Veiled Threats? Producing 'the Muslim Woman' in the UK Public Policy Imaginary

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Naaz RASHID, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
As Abu-Lughod writes,“gendered orientalism has taken on a new life and new forms in our feminist twenty first century” (2013 p. 202). This paper examines this phenomena in the UK context through a critique of the UK government’s engagement with Muslim women as part of its Preventing Violent extremism (Prevent) agenda. Whilst superficially framed in terms of empowerment, such interventions reflect a narrow form of neoliberal empowerment focused on access to consumer capitalism (McRobbie 2009). The paper analyses the way in which such engagement, through a focus on religious identity alone rather than a broader more intersectional approach to Muslim women’s lives contributes to a wider process of gendered racialization of Muslims. As such it feeds into new forms of gender injustice against Muslim women in the form of increasing marginalization, discrimination and racial violence. The paper will frame these developments in the context of historical continuities and global parallels. Furthermore, through deconstructing contemporary constructs of ‘the Muslim woman’ in the UK, the paper will discuss the possibilities for greater solidarity as part of a wider anti-racist feminist struggle.