Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
The image of a veiled woman captioned, ‘’Face of Islam’’ appears in juxtaposition to the photos of the crumbling twin towers of the world trade center. Featured in the NY Times photo essay of the year 2001, those often-repeated media images link the oppression of Muslim women to terrorist violence. They also point to the gender politics on the war on terror. And the ways gender has been manipulated to reinforce a clash of civilizations of Islam versus the West.
Using the example of the ‘burka/burkini ban’ in Europe my paper explains how for the Western liberal state, these restrictions and forms of power, along with the neoliberal economy that allows global capital to accumulate centrally among an elite few, serve to subdue and further marginalize the citizens whose difference makes them threatening and for whom structural violence limits access to resources of all kinds. Given this problematic my paper tries to address the following issues: How do we then understand sexualities in Islam within a Western context of liberalism? What role does resistance play in these spaces when regulatory forces within the current post 9/11 Western framework of a liberal state restrict and regulate the individual expression of sexuality elevating gender and sexuality to mainstream political status.