Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN33_06a: Religion, Feminism and Sexism
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Elisabetta Ruspini, University of Milano-Bicocca
Location: BS.3.14
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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Gender Role Identity: Migration, Ethnicity and Religious Affiliation

Alexandra Deliu, Mălina Voicu

Romanian Academy, Romania

Gender role identity occurs at the intersection of various identity layers and is reshaped throughout one’s life course. Changes in individual life circumstances provide new points of reference and require the adjustment of social roles and individual identities. International migration leads to the reconfiguration of individual circumstances, bringing changes in gender roles and the readjustment social identities within family. Migration impact on gender identity occurs at the intersection of some structural factors like ethnicity and religious denomination. Belonging to an ethnic group might tie the individual within a specific migration network, putting him/ her on a migration path which influences employment opportunities in the host country and leads to the adjustment of gender roles within family. Religious belonging makes available specific repertoires of values and attitudes regarding work, family and gender which filter the impact of migration on gender identity.

This paper looks at intersectionality as process, inquiring how ethnicity and religious denomination intersect and shape gender roles. We employ mixed methods, combining qualitative data collected in 2012 – 2014 in a multiethnic and multireligious village from Romania, having rich international migration history with quantitative data coming from the Roma Inclusion Barometer (2009) conducted in Romania on a representative sample of general adult population and of Roma adults, which allows for cross-ethnic and cross-denominational comparisons. Our findings suggest that, while ethnicity, religious affiliation and migration have direct effects on gender role identity, their effect is moderated also by the intersection between ethnicity and religious affiliation, leading to the reconfigurations of the social and familial spaces at the origin.

Islam and Feminism in the North Caucasus: the Possibilities of Women’s Agency

Irina Kosterina

Heinrich Boell Foundation, Russian Federation

In my paper I would like to present some findings from the research of gender relations in the North Caucasus. The methodology included in-depth problem-oriented interviews with women and men, as well as ethnographic observation.

Gender relations in the North Caucasus are in many ways a litmus test demonstrating the relationship between modernization and traditional components. However, in the case of the North Caucasus, the concepts of modernization and traditions cannot be used as opposites - modern researchers working in non-European regions argue that the idea of Western European modernization cannot be universalistic and applied to the analysis of any cultures. So the manifestations of Asian modernization will significantly differ from the Western European, and the researchers of ‘Islamic modernization’ convincingly argue for the specifics of this type (for example, Göle 2000; Amin 2009; Esposito and Voll 1996).

Many attitudes toward women's behavior and ‘women's honor’ are governed mainly by customary law and Islamic norms. On the other hand, all these existing systems are often applied inconsistently, differentially and ad hoc.

To analyze women's resistance strategies I use the term ‘patchwork modernization’ when the features of a traditional society and patriarchy organically co-exist with modernized practices.

Feminism in the North Caucasus exists in practice, but not in discourse as many feminist ideas are viewed as contradictory to local standards of gender hierarchies.

In my paper I discuss the ways how women deal with patriarchy, the possibilities of women's agency and the role of religion in women's empowerment.

Reclaiming Muslim Female Body in Ecofeminist Theories of Embodiment

Rezvaneh Erfani Hossein Pour

University of Alberta, Canada

Ecofeminists have called for adding an ecological dimension to gender research to address various forms of oppressions women experience in their daily lives and to explain how feminine repression and exploitation of the environment result from the same logic of patriarchal domination. In the past 20 years, several ecofeminists have shown that ecofeminism needs to embrace and explore the body more closely and evoke embodiment theories to make them central in feminist theories and epistemologies. Now that it appears that the flow of essentialism-phobia, as Field (2000) called it, has decreased, it seems that it is time to deal with the risky topic of the body in ecofeminist research and theory. In theorizing body from an ecofeminist point of view, feminist theory needs to avoid repeating the past mistakes and pay proper attention to the question of difference; whose body is being discussed and generalized? In this paper, I focus on the importance of inclusivity of female body in any theoretical efforts addressing embodiment in ecofeminist theory and analysis. In particular, I examine how a Muslim woman’s embodiment theory should be characterized and theorized in relation to nature. In the analysis, I consider both visually identifiable and self-identified Muslim women to explore how a female Muslim body is controlled, marked, and possessed. I examine childbirth, breastfeeding, and sexuality as three main elements to suggest how ecofeminist theory should approach a covered and raced body and show why it is important for a feminist critical theory of embodiment.

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