Article

Contemporary Islam

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 115-134

First online:

Modesty and style in Islamic attire: Refashioning Muslim garments in a Western context

  • Géraldine MossièreAffiliated withDépartement d’Anthropologie, Université de Montréal Email author 

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Abstract

My ethnographic fieldwork conducted with female converts to Islam in France and in Quebec (Canada) shows that, for these women, being Muslim does not necessarily mean wearing clothes with ‘oriental’ designs. Rather, they are starting their own clothing companies so as to produce distinct Muslim-Western fashions that they promote through the Internet. By interpreting Islam in a context where Muslims are a minority religious group, converts construct alternative religious and social representations of Muslim identity that accord with their feminist interpretation of the Qu’ran while simultaneously incorporating the Western background within which they were socialized. In this regard, the strategies that they develop for wearing the veil and for integrating into their environment (family, workplace, etc.) make it clear that fashion, religion and politics are interacting in multiple, creative ways. In this paper, I look at how new Muslim feminist subjectivities are produced and realized through habits of dress, resulting in new representations of the body. I explore this issue by considering dress and hairstyle strategies developed by Muslim converts, in order to examine new perspectives on the place of gender in religion as it relates to particular social contexts.

Keywords

Conversion Islam Gender Fashion Dress Body Identity