The aim of this conference is to examine how these texts negotiate the misconceptions and prejudices affecting the lives of Muslim women in Europe with a specific focus on Italy and France.
As Sam Husseini has noted, ‘there is a good deal of confusion as to who Muslims are’ (1995). He also speaks of anti-Muslim sentiment as being framed by ‘sanctioned bigotry’ (ibid.), a situation which intensified in the post-9/11 period. Muslim women specifically have been weighed down by the added burden of being seen as ‘the repositories of religious beliefs and keepers of purity and integrity in the community’ (Amrita Basu 1997: 3) — as such, framed by both their religion and gender.
In the past few decades, different voices have emerged across Europe that challenge the colonising gaze that has been used to scrutinise Muslim women. Through autobiographical writings, these voices contribute to the debate on Muslim women’s identity and agency in contemporary Europe and invite us to rethink traditional analyses (including feminist ones) that position the ‘non-Western’ as backwards and restrictive. Drawing on the work of Leila Ahmed (1992), these texts show us that resistance also takes place within tradition, and, in so doing, contribute to a new paradigm for Muslim women that challenges and problematises (mainly, Western) generalisations about the conservatism of Islam and the submissiveness and invisibility of Muslim women in the private and public sphere.
The aim of this conference is to examine how these texts negotiate the misconceptions and prejudices affecting the lives of Muslim women in Europe with a specific focus on Italy and France. The inevitable specificities of their postcolonial history notwithstanding, what these two countries have in common is a postcolonial legacy marked by a complex entanglement between multiculturalism, integration and citizenship. We invite submissions of papers addressing autobiographical texts written by Muslim women in Italy and France. Possible themes to be discussed can include, but are not limited to, the following:
●Stereotypes of Islam and gender-based violence and harassment;
●Misunderstandings about Muslim women and their role within the public sphere;
●Muslim women, identity and agency;
●The dichotomy of private and public space;
●Autobiography, intermediality and agency.
This one-day event will feature a dialogue with author Shirin Ramzanali Fazel (Lontano da Mogadiscio, 2017) on her personal and literary experience regarding the themes discussed during the conference.
Abstract deadline: 15 May 2023
Conference: 27 October 2023
Address: Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU