Culture, Media and Everyday Practices: Unveiling and Challenging Islamophobia

  • Fatima Khan
  • Gabe Mythen
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture book series (PSCMC)

Abstract

In this chapter we wish to broach the issue of the cultural representation of Muslims. While there is now a broad range of literature which documents the ways in which Muslims and Islam are commonly depicted in the Western media, relatively scant attention has been paid to the gendered nature of prejudice against Muslims. Moreover, moving from the plain of representation to material impact, there has been a paucity of studies focused on how Muslims themselves engage with and negotiate distorted representations of their faith, identities and aspirations. Presenting qualitative evidence from a 2015 empirical study with young British Pakistani Muslims living in the North-West of England, in this chapter we consider the associations made between women and Islam at a representational level, focussing primarily on clothing as a marker of identity. We argue that intersecting discourses of gender, identity and faith—which are based on erroneous assumptions—serve to present Muslim women as simultaneously victims of gendered oppression and agents of cultural separation. Further, we posit that dominant ideologies prevalent in the UK undermine Islam and seek to impose upon Muslims narrow, assimilationist notions of British culture and values. Drawing on the data from the empirical study, we contrast common and negative non-Muslim understandings of the meaning and purposes of the veil with the positive attachments and affiliations expressed by Muslim participants. In addition, we emphasise the importance of resistance as a response to labelling and stereotyping, outlining the ways in which this is made manifest in both counter discourses and everyday practices. Before we provide a capsule account of the research methods deployed in the study, it is first necessary to discuss the specificity of the British context in general and a focus on the veil in particular.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fatima Khan
    • 1
  • Gabe Mythen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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