‘Wherein the Women?'- Gendered Notions of Citizenship, British South Asian (BSA) Muslim Women and a Case for the Extra-Ordinary…'

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Rashida BIBI, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
In a post 9/11 and 7/7 societies, British Muslims have become increasingly centralised in discourses on citizenship and belonging.  The ‘hypervisible’ (Archer, 2009) Muslim communities face an increasingly hostile and Islamophobic atmosphere, characterising them as ‘suspicious’ and the ‘fifth column’ in British society. Consequently issues of citizenship and loyalty to the nation have gained increased precedence; yet discourses of citizenship remain highly gendered. Characterised as a largely ‘public endeavour’ performed in a 'public' setting, citizenship experiences of ethnic minority women, for whom citizenship is not only different but unequal (Yuval-Davis, 1992), have been largely overlooked. Drawing on empirical research and focussing on the intersectional nature of discrimination faced by BSA Muslim women this paper relates the experiences of citizenship for BSA Muslim women living in Oldham, United Kingdom. As the site of race riots in 2001 and the subsequent policy shifts from multiculturalism to ‘active citizenship’, the experiences of BSA Muslim women in Oldham were noticeably absent in policy documents (Ritchie, 2001 & Cantle, 2001).This absence highlights the ‘blind spot’ ethnic minority women occupy within policies of race relations.

The public/private dichotomy in citizenship discourses have reinforced gender roles of public ‘active males’ and private ‘passive females’. However this research shows that ‘everyday’ practises of citizenship and belonging are practised on the micro, intimate level in the home through adaptation of food and dress. Highlighting these practises of ‘everyday’ and ‘ordinary’ allows us to explore how discourses of citizenship and ‘anti-citizenship’ impact on notions of ‘belonging’. In seeking to blur private/public distinctions (Lister, 2003) this paper draws attention to the understudied nature of ethnicity/gender in discourses of citizenship, as well as providing a means to counter accusations of ‘loyalty’ to the nation.