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Title: Muslim women, religious identity, commitment and expression in Britain
Author: Dar, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 2748 2759
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2010
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Since 9/11 and 7/7 the focus on Muslims as a subject of political, media and academic debate has intensified. Muslim women, who are critical to these various debates, are often essentialised and typified as casualties of Islam, and their voices are effectively silenced. This study, which ‘gives voice’ to the experiences of Muslim women, examines the ways in which Muslim women negotiate their religious identities and commitments in twenty-first century Britain through their engagement with artistic projects. Through a combination of semistructured interviews with twenty-six women and participant observation in a Muslim women’s arts organisation and nasheed group, it addresses three research questions each of which tries to cast sociological light on the intersection between artistic practice and identification with Islam. Firstly, it asks to what extent Durkheim’s notion of religion as la vie sérieuse helps to describe the beliefs, identities and practices of Muslim women. Secondly, it considers the extent to which, and manner in which, Muslim women’s artistic participation expresses selfidentification with religion and culture. Finally, it examines the implications of artistic participation for other areas of Muslim women’s lives. In responding to these questions, I draw upon literature on religion and identity, religious commitment, Islam and gender, and Islam and the arts. My analysis focuses on how religion and everyday life are entwined in the experiences of Muslim women and how these experiences problematise the idea of strict boundaries between the ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’. It highlights variety in the commitment and practice of Muslim women and how individualisation and choice are very much part of the variation in their religious lives. I consider how my participants negotiate their gendered, religious and cultural identities through artistic participation and show that Muslim women engage in performances, not only in their roles as artists, but also as they navigate the expectations or (cultural) scripts handed to them by their families and religious communities. I also highlight how re-presenting and representing Muslim women and Islam can be an important act for those engaging in artistic practices and how this activity demonstrates active agency in a public sphere that often excludes them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy ; etc ; HQ The family. Marriage. Woman