The Headscarf and Nikab Politics in France, the Netherlands and Germany: Appropriating Feminism and Negotiating Difference

Friday, 20 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Gokce YURDAKUL, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
Anna KORTEWEG, University of Toronto, Canada
In this paper, we analyze headscarf and nikab debates that unfolded in the first decade of the 21st century in France, the Netherlands, and Germany. Looking at newspaper articles, policy and legal documents, we understand attempts to regulate the headscarf and nikab as attempts to manage politics toward gender and Islam in three countries. We show that while formal regulations vary importantly between them, in all three countries feminist and feminist-inspired interlocutors enacted a form of governance feminism that largely promoted an exclusionary approach to the headscarf and nikab by relying on the rhetorics of secularism, state neutrality and gender equality. They equated forbidding or curtailing the wearing of the headscarf and nikab with advancing women’s liberation. We show possibilities for alternative governance strategies that lead to more inclusive approaches to gendered difference by comparing the approaches to headscarf and nikab in three countries.