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Naturalising, Neutralising Women's Bodies: The "Headscarf Affair" and the Politics of Representation

Vom Bruck, Gabriele (2008) 'Naturalising, Neutralising Women's Bodies: The "Headscarf Affair" and the Politics of Representation.' Identities, 15 (1). pp. 51-79.

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Abstract

The recent "headscarf affair" has created a divisive national crisis in several European countries. Like Turkey, France and Germany have introduced legislation prohibiting "conspicuous" religious symbols in government institutions. The article argues that interpretations of 'Muslim' female head covering as a sign of oppression ignore their resemblance to European symbols of ideal womanhood. The question of the 'ethnicity' of the symbol is thus elusive, and the assertion of categorical difference can be challenged on the level of citizenship law. Recent amendments to German citizenship law based on jus sanguinis have eased immigrants' adoption of citizenship, diminishing the contrast with the French jus soli. Thus, in Germany there has been a shift from the emphasis on the transmission of substance toward display of cultural competence through other forms of embodiment. In both Germany and France, in key social locations of state reproduction, national belonging and loyalty to the state must be demonstrated through linguistic competence and modes of bodily performance that mainly focus on women.

Item Type: Articles
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
ISSN: 1070289X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): doi: 10.1080/10702890701801791
Depositing User: Huei-Lan Liu
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2008 13:29
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/5224

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