Muslim Women and Girls: Searching for Democracy and Self-Expression
The stories that we aim to tell are significant because historically, the voices of Muslim women have been marginalized in U.S. society. In California, particularly following the events of 9/11, we’ve seen an increase is stigma, discrimination, as well as a lack of understanding of Muslim women’s experiences (Hopkins, 2007). Scholars have noted the increasing construction of hate, fear, and misunderstanding, as well as increasing incidences of “Islamophobia” through the construction of Muslims as “the other”. Others have focused on Muslim women’s negotiations of religious freedom and self-expression, concluding that they are either ‘betwixt and between’ or the synthesizers of two distinct cultures (Knott & Khokher, 1993). While many studies have focused on Muslim women’s experiences, there has yet to be a study that incorporates art and visual storytelling to illustrate the experiences of Muslim women in California.
This visual media project aims to capture the stories of Muslim women and girls, and the ways in which they exercise religious freedom as a form of democracy and self-expression. The participants include women and girls of different ethnicities and racial backgrounds, between the ages of 18-65, who live in the San Fernando Valley, and who self-identify as Muslim. The purpose of this project is two-fold. The first involves giving Muslim women cameras to photo-document their lives, in order to understand how women express themselves as a form of democracy. After each woman takes her photographs, she will be invited to participate in an individual interview that will be videotaped, in which she will describe her photographs and the meanings behind her images. The second part of this project involves the creation of a short documentary film, based on the themes of the photographs, which will feature the women’s voices, images and experiences.