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Sister youre not supposed to be wearing tight jeans with that scarf: Examining discourse, identity and young Muslim women in UK society Bróna Murphy University.

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Presentation on theme: "Sister youre not supposed to be wearing tight jeans with that scarf: Examining discourse, identity and young Muslim women in UK society Bróna Murphy University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sister youre not supposed to be wearing tight jeans with that scarf: Examining discourse, identity and young Muslim women in UK society Bróna Murphy University of Edinburgh

2 Objective To investigate a corpus of young Muslim women discourse in order to discover if their use of language reveals insights into the identity of the modern-day young Muslim woman

3 Muslim Culture in the UK Large Muslim presence has existed in Britain since the beginning of the 19 th century: seamen and traders from the Middle East settled in Liverpool, South Shields post-war saw Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians arrive to fill the labour shortage in industrial cities (Abbas, 2005: 18-9) Christians accounted for 71.6 per cent of the UK population followed in second place by Muslims (Abbas, 2005)

4 Representation of Muslims Muslims in the UK have become a focus of national concern and debate – an alien other (Saaed, 2007) They have found themselves at the centre of a new wave of suspicion and hostility as a result of the terrorist attacks and their aftermath Britain has been seen to develop agendas of equality and multiculturalism (Modood, 2005)

5 Representation of Muslims Representation of Muslims/Islam in UK and American press (McEnery, 2008; Baker, 2010) Muslims: victims or villains Women as victims, arranged marriages, wearing hijaab Representations of Muslims/Muslim Women in BBC News Reporting (Al-Hejin, 2009) Women: hijaab, should, allowed to

6 Language and Identity Identity is who we are (Joseph, 2004) how people understand their relationship to the world, and...how that relationship is constructed (Norton, 1997: 410) non-fixed, non-rigid and always being co- constructed by individuals of themselves or by people who share certain core values or perceive another group as having such values (Omoniyi and White, 2006)

7 The Muslim Women Corpus (MWC) 20, 933 word spoken corpus consisting of Muslim women group committee meetings/discussion groups : 20-35 year olds 35-52 year olds Participants belong to the Muslim Womens Association of Edinburgh (MWAE) Association set up in 2005 by a group of Muslim women who found a lack of educational and social activities for Muslim women in Edinburgh

8 The Muslim Women Corpus (MWC) Meeting 1 AgeBirthplaceNationalityEducationLivingYears Aisha25EdinburghBritishThirdEdinburgh25 Nuha22SingaporeSingaporeanThirdEdinburgh3 Nasim27EdinburghBritishThirdEdinburgh27 Meeting 2 AgeBirthplaceNationalityEducationLivingYears Amira27LibyaLibyanThirdEdinburgh3 Nahid26LibyaLibyanThirdEdinburgh3

9 Analysis of the MWC Exploration of the corpus using Wordsmith Tools 5 (Scott, 2008): Keyword analysis of the MWC Collocational and concordance analysis Expanded concordance extracts

10 Top 40 Keywords in MWC Yeah, Muslim, mmh, like, mosque, Islam, women, wear, hijaab, wearing, Edinburgh, pray, prayer, married, husband, woman, feel, scarf, Koran, halal, drink, prophet, stupid, really, community, marriage, friends, Pakistan, veil, young, Jewish, wedding, family, men, he, teenagers, touch, allowed, interrogated, Ramadan

11 Top 40 Keywords in MWC Yeah, Muslim, mmh, like, mosque, Islam, women, wear, hijaab, wearing, Edinburgh, pray, prayer, married, husband, woman, feel, scarf, Koran, halal, drink, prophet, stupid, really, community, marriage, friends, Pakistan, veil, young, Jewish, wedding, family, men, he, teenagers, touch, allowed, interrogated, Ramadan

12 Top 40 Keywords in MWC - Classification Religion Muslim, Islam, Koran, pray, prayer, mosque, prophet, Ramadan, halal, Jewish Gender Men, woman, women Dress hijaab, veil, scarf, wear, wearing Relationships friends, husband, family, married, marriage, Celebration Wedding Emotion/Feel verbs Stupid, touch, feel Society/ community, drink Authority Interrogated, allowed Places Edinburgh, Pakistan Age Young, teenagers Features of conversation yeah, mmh, like, really, he Keywords in the MWC

13 Religion – Muslim N3-Word ClusterFreq. 1a good Muslim8 2you are Muslim7 3a real Muslim6 4real Muslim A5

14 Religion - Muslim as much as I can I want to be a goodMuslimnot just a Muslim for women to be real Muslim a goodMuslimso you have to wear hijaab as my friend says part of being a goodMuslimas well is is no bad eh completely there is a goodMuslimbad Muslim it or not but you have to be a realMuslimfrom inside about Islam you have to go to a realMuslimwho believes in god and in they should come to a realMuslimand ask him about Islam is not is not a real is not a goodMuslimIm saying you can you can Drink sometimes this is not a goodMuslimbut still Muslim it depends they think thats realMuslimis very very extremist

15 Religion - Real Muslim Nahid: You see when they look at me I feel that in my point of view I feel that when they look at me wearing the long ah coat they say shes very real Muslim shes very very extremist because it depends they think thats real Muslim is a very very extremist thats why Im trying to be more ah more you know more fashion to be show them Im not extremist like a baby trying to fit in

16 Religion – Real Muslim Nahid: If we are real Muslim we are following something not real its just we are stupid because we are following this guy...we are not enjoying the life like the others we are stupid

17 Religion- Good Muslim Nahid: Because I dont blame them ah to be frank I dont blame them and yeah because of the media yeah yeah actually because of the media when you see am ah a shop has been exploded by Muslim ah ah ah a plane has been exploded by Muslim they are looking at Muslims as terrorists yeah I dont actually I dont blame them because this is what Muslims doing is not is not a real is not a good Muslim

18 Religion - Muslim They feel thatwe arevery very very tough tough people Praying togetherwe arehearing the special words Im going to the mosquewe arepraying together No we have been herewe aretested we have problems like the others Yeahwe arewe make mistakes as well Becausewe arehuman They cant understand whywe arewearing hijaab Is just like a testwe arehere everything is open to us I think also though becausewe arecoloured in a sense

19 Dress – wear/wearing Thats why Im trying towearit like this back home Id wear it longer there is a kind of pressure towearit mmh I thought I wouldwearit to remind me that I should kind of be judged on whether Iwearthe hijaab or not You will not get it unless youweara scarf no way Im just going toweara scarf to win it then I realised I wanted towearit a way its like easier to just towearit just to get by in life Like I want towearit so then I wanted to wear it yeah Very white and when theywearit they get a lot more abuse

20 Dress – hijaab, scarf, veil

21 Dress- hijaab And no muslim is wearinghijaabwhich one should you ask about Islam You an look at me withouthijaabshe was very so why Covering your hair withhijaabthis is this is the main question in that city they liked thehijaabYeah discovered they liked thehijaabYeah Can take off yourhijaabno no no If I take off myhijaabI will not be comfortable Why are you wearinghijaabbecause I am Muslim

22 Dress – veil... Aisha: Well when I started wearing a veil about like four years ago or something I have to say that at that time a lot of my friends had started wearing it as well and that is why I started no people would say oh you know you should kind of start wearing it now and I think that is an issue as well that people are are not not forced but there is a kind of pressure to wear it... But then after a while then and then I stopped wearing it for a bit and then I realised that I wanted to wear it...

23 ...Dress - veil Aisha: I just felt it was the right thing to do and I dunno I just kind of missed it I think it just makes me feel like it does give me an identity cos I I dunno I kind of want to be part of a group or something like that...I did feel it in myself that you know I really have a need that I want I feel like I need to wear it

24 Dress - hijaab Nuha: It was quite honestly my own decision it was quite like I was quite angry at a lot of things actually I thought I would wear it to remind me that I should kind of focus on God...It reminds me to be a more independent Muslim woman cos its a choice I made by myself

25 Dress - hijaab Nahid: I said you are not Muslim but you are woman we share the same so you can look at me without hijaab she was very so why you are covering your hair with hijaab this is this is the main questions always we have we just like a stupid we are covering a beauty we have we are not enjoying the life like the others we are stupid this is Im not laughing at them Im not ah Im really worrying about them because they dont know the reasons the real reason that makes me do these things in these tempting situations

26 Dress - hijaab Nahid: Yeah I can remember the first time I went to Brighton the taxi driver told me you are Muslim yeah I said yeah he said, yeah but are you coming alone I said yes nobody here with me I Im alone no no not with my family he said so why you are wearing hijaab? I said because Im Muslim I have to he saidno no nobody can see you here he said because you are alone I told him this is not the issue I said I cant believe how and why they cant understand why we are wearing hijaab even if you told him that this is the reason they never convinced you cant convince them let them know how to its just aam

27 Dress – scarf... Nuha: I decided not to wear it and you know I won so I was like so I honestly started wearing it after I finished my term cos...what example would i be if I like gave in to what other people thought I should wear but it was kinda funny cos the week after I started wearing the scarf some like random person in the supermarket came up to me and went Sister youre not supposed to be wearing tight jeans with that scarf

28 ...Dress- scarf Nasim: And youre like Nuha: I was like what and I honestly had no idea who I like who this person was and I was like okay Nasim: So you just said okay Nuha: It was genuine as like you know I I presume his intentions were genuine like genuine trying to make me a better Muslim I I say okay thank you very much it was really strange

29 Observations - Identity Important traditional Muslim values e.g. hijaab, sense of community How Muslims think non-Muslims perceive them e.g. stupid, extremists A desire to be seen as normal, as human beings A sense of realism which provides a contemporary insight e.g. clothing, fitting in

30 Reference List Abbas, T. 2005. Muslim Britain: communities under pressure. Zed Books. Al-Heijin, B. 2009. What matters about Muslim women? A comparison of BBC news and Arab news 1997-2008. ICAME 30, Lancaster, May 2009. Baker, P. 2010. Representations of Islam in British broadsheet and tabloid newspapers 1999-2005. Language and Politics. Forthcoming. Joseph, J. 2004. Language and Identity: National, Ethnic, Religious. Palgrave Macmillan.

31 Reference List McEnery, T. 2008. Moral Panic? Representations of Islam in the British and American Press 1999-2005. ICAME 29, Ascona, Switzerland Modood, 2005. Foreword in Abbas, T. Muslim Britain: communities under pressure. Zed Books Omoniyi, T and White, G. 2006. The Sociolinguistics of Identity. Continuum. Saaed, A. 2007. Media, Racism and Islamophobia: The representation of Islam and Muslims in the Media. Sociology Compass 1 (2): 443-462


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