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Constructing Islam, gender and class: Everyday experiences of veiled muslim women in the public sphere of Istanbul
AuthorKeskin Aksay, Nursem
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CitationKeskin Aksay, N. (2019). Constructing Islam, gender and class: Everyday experiences of veiled muslim women in the public sphere of Istanbul. S. Dwyer, R. Franks ve R. Green (Ed.), With(Out) Trace: Interdisciplinary Investigations into Time, Space and the Body içinde (189-200 ss.). Brill.
This study, which summarises part of my doctoral research, examines how veiled women, who with their various class-based activities are recently becoming more visible in the public sphere of Istanbul, are represented within the recent urban transformations of the city according to their religiosity. My main goal is to demonstrate the relationship between the embodied practices of women and the constructed religious subjectivities in a city that goes through spatial change in time. This relationship is significant because it offers the possibility of reexamining the ‘classless’ representation of women, while challenging the tendency of studying ‘Muslim women’ as a homogenous category. The study also creates a productive area in terms of creating new conceptualisations and subjectivities about class, gender and Islam. Gender and class are historical constructions with experiences and practices varying depending on historical, social, cultural and economic contexts of the subjects being studied. The history of exclusion for Muslim women wearing headscarves in Turkey, at least from some specific spheres such as workplaces and universities, is in tension with ‘secular’ rules; and the rise in public visibility raises questions about inclusion and exclusion strategies and an ‘Islamic’ movement. I will illustrate the everyday practices and experiences of Muslim women through their represented class subjectivities, which are vital mediators in the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion in the public sphere in Turkey. Using an ethnographic approach, I conducted in-depth interviews and participant observation in four spaces in Istanbul: ‘conservative’ women Journals; ‘Islamic’ gated community; the Women’s Branch of the Government Party; and a university. According to my findings, this study shows how these women are recently constructed as neoliberal subjects through differential gender relations, Islamic practices and class habits, and how they are ambivalent enjoying, but also morally criticising, the new transformations.