Call for Papers International Workshop: “Gender, Fashion, and Embodiment in Islam” June 29th – June 30th 2019, University of Hamburg, Germany
Dear colleagues,Through their bodies, people ensure or transform representations of identity. This means that it is possible to express to the outside world who one is, and how one wishes to be recognised through the body. As a result, people develop as a product of human modelling. Bodies are subject to performances and shaping, they participate in sports and get tattooed, decorated and dressed, and in the process, are “embodied”. Embodied subjects are not only biological entities, but they are bound to social processes. The embodiment of social ideals is connected to self-confidence and one’s self-perception. Thus, the body is an interface of internal expressions and needs, as well as of external perceptions. Clothes only become impressive when bodies wear and shape them within spaces. Clothing thus becomes a code of social order.
This workshop will discuss ways of dressing and fashion as gendered and embodied, but equally as “religionized” phenomena, particularly focusing on one significant World religion: Islam. ‘Muslimah wear’ is very diverse and heterogeneous and differs in colours, styles and cuttings according to the regional, cultural, socio-political and religious background of the female wearers. Through their clothing, Muslims negotiate concepts and interpretations of Islam and equally constitute their intersectionally interwoven position in the world. Muslim Malay women from Malaysia, for example, have appropriated the abaya, the long black Arabian cloak, over the past years as a result of increasing pilgrimage journeys to Mecca and Medina. Emirati women prefer to wear a light-coloured trench-coat-like ‘travel abaya’ once they travel to European countries. Muslim women in the Netherlands start wearing the veil in order to resist racist hostilities towards Muslims. Designers in Dubai create a brand new abaya that allows UV-radiation to pass through the material in order to solve the problem of Vitamin D deficiency in the Gulf states due to their covering. ‘Muslimah wear’ has become more and more integrated into the international fashion industry. In fact, designer jallabiahs, kaftans, or abayas with tight fits transform its actual function as a loose garment which actually should not draw attention to the female body. The designer brands, which are in part visible to the outside world by their labels, however, do play a role in drawing attention to themselves – and, thus, also to the female body which it covers. Shops selling these items in Indonesia, Sudan, Kenya, Germany, or Great Britain support the notion of these garments as a ‘modern piece of fashion.’ Gendered Muslim clothing in general signify different meanings to those who wear, promote, sell, or distribute it: as a religious article of clothing, as a vehicle to negotiate being ‘modern’ and ‘sexy,’ as garment for self-protection to chase away the male gaze, and as a lucrative good that fits into commercialization strategies in capitalist and halal industries alike.
The central aim of the conference is to bring together research on the changing meanings and practices of gendered clothing in Muslim contexts. We want to compare the dynamics in the so-called and self-proclaimed “Islamic center” (the Arabian Peninsula) with developments in the so called “Muslim Periphery.” Foregrounding contemporary scholars’ diverse theoretical and methodological approaches, the workshop aims to problematise and complicate the discursive and lived interactions and intersections between gender, fashion, spirituality, religion, class, and ethnicity.
The comparison of interdisciplinary cases will focus on four themes in particular:
1) Social dimension: In what ways are the transformations of clothing practices connected to changing gender roles and generational relations?;
2) Normative dimension: what is the relationship between changing cultural ideas about a ‘good woman and a good man’ and ‘appropriate garments abiding Islamic rules’ and changing clothing practices?;
3) Material dimension: what can be said about the entanglements between gendered Muslim fashion and class formation processes?;
4) Economic dimension: How do clothing practices in Muslim contexts relate to the booming halal industry?
Please send proposals (title and ca. 200-word abstract), by Monday 19 January 2019, to
Dr Viola Thimm at the Asia Africa Institute, University of Hamburg:
All students and academic researchers interested in Gender, Fashion, and Embodiment in Islam are very welcome to attend. There is no charge for attendance but due to limited space booking is essential. Please register your attendance until 31 May 2019 at
For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.
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