Muslim Immigrant Bangladeshi Women and the Politics of Gender, Class and Religion

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Pallavi BANERJEE, University of Calgary, Canada
In this ethnographic study, I explore how participation in two types of religious groups - mosque-based and home-based - structures the material lived experiences of Muslim immigrant Bangladeshi women in terms of their immigrant experiences and gendered relationships within the families. I deploy "multiple intersections" approach to find that women's participation in the two forms of religious groups is filtered through their class identities such that their religious participation is largely mediated by how they perceive their own class positions. This approach “interrogates the boundary-making and boundary-defining process itself” and focuses on “social groups at neglected points of intersections” (McCall 2005, 773-74). Class dictates what religious groups and institutions the women can access, their experiences participating in religious groups and what it does for them as women and migrants in the context of these groups, their own conjugal families and the larger American social structure. I interrogate how different forms of religious participation (in the mosque and in the home) become the site of contestation over multiple identities filtered through class, immigrant subjectivities, religious participation and gendered relationships. The strength of this work is twofold: first, it illuminates the importance for qualitative researchers to tease apart nuances in their data. Second, it shows that even small differences in class locations can alter access to religious participation, which in turn has incremental but lasting influence on familial gendered relationships and overall affective well being of the women participants of this study.