564.3 “I am German, too” biographical accounts of young Muslim women from an intersectional perspective

Friday, August 3, 2012: 12:54 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Aletta DIEFENBACH , Institut für Soziologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
The concept of “hybrid identity” (Hall 1994) implies that people feel they belong to different hegemonic cultural spaces. This description seems to be adequate for a new generation of young women in Germany who define Islam as a major identity marker and simultaneously feel as German citizens. However, in everyday life this subject position can be highly precarious in different social fields because Islam is still perceived as the cultural other.The aim of this paper is to strongly connect empirical data with theoretical considerations. First, it draws on biographical narratives with young, female Muslims from a religious youth organization to show how they struggle for a Muslim and German identity during adolescence. The biographies reveal the importance of their faith-based community to successfully integrate their religious and national identities. Nevertheless, it also shows the women’s experience of double marginalization due to the non-recognition of their new subject position by the host society and within their religious milieu. On a theoretical level it will be argued that the intersectional approach is a fruitful way to analyze life realities and ambivalent social positioning of Muslim-German women. The analysis illustrates how strongly the social representations of a “German narrative” and “Muslim narrative” are bound to and interwoven with categories of ethnicity, religion, gender and class. However, the paper suggests that categories of religion and secularity have been undertheorized in intersectional approaches on gender and migration. This study of representatives of the so-called “second generation” of guest workers in Germany reveals that not gender, class or ethnicity but religion is the major mechanism of social exclusion.