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Session Overview
RN33_RN34_11a_P_JS: JOINT SESSION: (Un)Making Europe: Religion and Gender
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Roberta Ricucci, University of Turin
Session Chair: Katie Christine Gaddini, University of Cambridge
Location: PD.4.35
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: D, Level: 4.
Joint Session of RN33 Women’s and Gender Studies and RN34 Sociology of Religion

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Multiple agencies and in/visibility of British Muslim women

Hengameh Ashraf Emami

University of Northumbria, United Kingdom

This paper will offer an insight into intergenerational identities of British Muslim women in two cities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Glasgow. Multi-sited ethnographic research will explore in/visibility of Muslim women in post secular space in Britain. Therefore, the politics of inclusion and exclusion will be examined through research participants in this studies. Oral History interviews were used to interview thirty research participants to explore multi-dimensional of identities of Muslim women with diverse backgrounds. The fluidity of identity will be examined through intersection of gender, ethnicity and religion in intergenerational context. The paper will discuss the dynamic of agency is influenced by knowledge and Self actualisation. A double consciousness emerged through the narratives in the research and explains the relation between knowledge and gender autonomy. Muslim women’s agency and its complexity due to the geopolitical situation in Europe have significant impact on constructing and reconstructing identities. This paper explores multiple agency of Muslim women through veiling and unveiling in intergenerational context. It will illustrate the intersectionality of ethnicity, gender and religion and explore the ways that British Muslim women create ‘safe space’ in a secular space. Thus paper will provide a critical insight on British women who identified themselves as Muslim.

Is religion a feminist issue? The Italian Burkini debate.

Elisa Rapetti1, Caterina Peroni2

1University of Milan, Italy; 2University of Padua, Italy

The use of Burkini by Islamic women during the Olympic games in Rio and the ban on its use in several French municipalities were relevant issues of the European and Italiansummer newspapers and blogs editorials concerning women’s freedom and the relationship between secularity and religion. This reveals that the women’s body is still the cultural and political battlefield of the conflict between secularism, neo-fundamentalisms and different perspectives of feminism.

Focusing on the current feminist debate, the paper analyses the different opinions emerged after the publication of an interview on the Burkini ban to LorellaZanardo, a popular feminist blogger engaged in the critical analysis of women’s representation in the mass media . Zanardo agreed with this prohibition in the name of women’s freedom and secularity,provoking a relevant number of reactions of feminist journalists and experts in gender issues and women rights.

Following the Critical Discourse Analysis methodology, we analysed 25 articles published in different Italianfeminist and women blogs, websites and online journals, which are exemplary both for the public recognition of the authors as feminist exponent, and for the diffusion of the articles in the social media.

From the analysis emerge two main positioning, one reproducing a neo-colonialist rhetoric and one moving from a post-colonial perspective. Despite their different perspectives,they share,meaningfully,a common secularistic frame, both removing religion from women's agency issues.

Women’s Migration and Gender Empowerment? The Case of Polish Religious Activists in Belgium.

Sylwia Eliza Urbańska

University of Warsaw, Poland

Since the late 1980s there has been a growing interest in women’s migration, which led to the emergence of intersectional analysis as a main focus of gendered studies of mobility. However, intersectional research of global migration processes rarely includes the analysis of religion in the experience of migrants, not asking about the possible role of religion in the gender revolution and sources of empowerment. Studies focus primarily (and often only) on the gendered division of care work, new forms of maintaining transnational families, and caring for children from abroad.

In the presentation I will show that the inclusion of religion in the analysis helps to answer in a more complex way, how the shifts in gender roles during the process of migration takes place in conservative communities. Thus, the main aim is to answer the question of which gendered patterns of social practices of migrant women (in relation to the men) are produced and reproduced in the organizations of the Polish Catholic Mission in Belgium. The starting point for analysis is the assumption that the high level of secularization and egalitarian gender regime in Belgium (Global Gender Gap ranking) seem to support the more egalitarian perception of the role of women in the religious organizations in this country in comparison to Poland. Therefore, I would like to discuss the impact of different environment – the socio-cultural context of pluralistic and multicultural Belgium – on construction of gender patterns and practices in a religious organization.

Mobilization of masculinity in the religious and transnational contexts. Gender practices of men in the parishes of Polish Catholic Mission in England.

Katarzyna Leszczyńska

AGH University Science and Technology, Poland

The main aim of the paper is to answer the question of which patterns of masculinity are produced and reproduced in gendered practices of men, involved in the varied religious groups in the organizations of Polish Catholic Missions (PCM) in England. In my presentation I place particular emphasis on the experiences of lay men and clergymen involved in the religious groups of "The Men of St. Joseph", very active community in parish organizations of the PCM, oriented on the mobilization of the traditional and conservative patterns of masculinity.

The masculinity patterns in religious organisations of PCM needs to be sought as a social institution; it means that it acts as restriction and facilitation to social actions and manifests itself through formalized as well as non-formalized rules, social practices and their interpretations through social actors. These rules within the social institution are isomorphic. This implies that they depend on the environment which constitutes the context for the functioning of that institution of masculinity. I interpret these patterns of masculinity as dependent on the institutional context – position of laity and men in the Church structures in Poland and England context, access to resources in the Church institution and relation of the Church structures with cultural, religious and social environment. Particularly important in the paper is issue of renegotiation of institutional rules on masculinity in the context of transnational relations.

The paper is based on the results of qualitative research: especially 20 in-depth interviews with biographical elements which I carried out in January 2017 with religiously active lay men and clergymen involved in migratory organisations of Polish Catholic Mission in England.

Identity Experiences of Kurdish Alevi Women in the Public Sphere of Turkish Society

Seçil Aslan

Galatasaray University, Turkey

Although Turkish society includes different religious and ethnical identities, for the Turkish state the national identity is formed as ethnically Turkish, religiously Muslim and sectarian Sunni. Therefore, the first reflex is to repress, discriminate and assimilate non-Turks, non-Muslims and non-Sunnis in case of potential harm against national unity. However, despite this official unrecogntition; people can feel differences and can easily develop discriminative attitude to “others.” Hence, in the public sphere although the main attitude is assimilation; people have tendencies to dissimilatie the differences. Gender could also be taken as a discriminated identity and we can call women as subaltern groups in a patriarchal society.

In this situation, what is the meaning of being Kurdish Alevi women in patriarchal Turkish Sunni society? They belong to a minority group both in terms of their religion and ethnicity and might be discriminated in triple ways (ethnicity, religion and gender). Taken as a minority of minority group; they are different from Turkish Sunni community, Turkish Alevi community and Kurdish Sunni Community and they have strategies against Kurdish and Turkish (Alevi) men. This study aims to analyze one subaltern identity (Alevi identity as religion) within the other (ethnicization of it as Kurdish Alevism) with a reference to gender-based discussions (how women experience it). Focusing on relation between society-individual, society-inner communities and inner dynamics of community in terms of “inclusion” and “exclusion”; it investigates whether one of these identities can be the most visible one in the case of co-existence/intersection of identities and understands whether we can take gender as signifier identity which intersects others.

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