Gender and sexuality online on Australian Muslim forums
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This paper examines the e-religious discourse that Australian Muslims produce on the internet. The study of two online discussions on MuslimVillage forums—one of Australia’s largest online Muslim communities—about polygamy and homosexuality will illustrate how online interaction within virtual Islamic environments provides both greater and lesser fluidity to e-Islamic normative discourses associated with gender and sexuality. Muslim forums provide opportunities for members to display a variety of views and opinions: on the one hand, they allow Muslims to post views that may challenge, contest, or even transgress Islamic gender and sexuality norms, while equally allowing members, on the other hand, to reaffirm more authoritative normative Islamic views. The various voices that inhabit Australia’s Islamicyberspace’s new Muslim social and networked environments thus need to negotiate virtual normative representations.
KeywordsInternet Forums Gender Polygamy Homosexuality Australia
I would like to thank both the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland, and its director, Professor Graeme Turner, for the Faculty Visiting Fellowship (fall 2007) I received for the project “Prescription, Construction, and Contestation of Selves, Identities, and Representations of Muslim Women in Cyberspace” and Dr. Juliane Hammer, Visiting Professor at Princeton University who, together with Professor Cemil Aydın (also Visiting Professor at Princeton University), organized a very successful 2 day workshop entitled “Muslims and Media: Representation, Discourse, and Participation,” held at Princeton University (USA), May 1–2, 2008; they and the other participants of the workshop were most forthcoming with encouragements and feedback.41 I would also like to thank the Department of Religious Studies of Seoul National University, for their invitation to present part of this research at a departmental seminar on October 2, 2008, and which I subsequently presented at a seminar for the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland, October 21, 2008. Last but not least, I need to thank heartily anonymous reviewers whose suggestions for improving this paper have been invaluable.
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