Feminist Review

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 47–64

beyond emancipation: subjectivities and ethics among women in Europe's Islamic revival communities

  • Jeanette S Jouili


This article addresses the complex reflections regarding gender relations expressed by women active in the contemporary Islamic revival movements in Europe (especially France and Germany). Much recent research conducted among these groups aims to counter the rather negative accounts prevailing in public discourses on gender and Islam. This literature notably argues that women's conscious turn to Islam is not necessarily a reaffirmation of male domination, but that it constitutes a possibility for agency and empowerment. However, when faced with certain ‘traditionalist’ positions defended by these women, even this well-meaning literature seems precarious, left in a state of uncertainty. Taking this puzzlement as a point of departure, this contribution aims to think about the dilemmas involved in articulating a language for women's dignity and self-realization, which competes with dominant languages of equality, individual rights and autonomy. This project is rendered even more intricate by the fact that these pious Muslim women socialized in Europe have also been partly fashioned by the liberal discourses against which they want to position themselves.


Islamic revival women Europe subjectivity ethics rights 


  1. Amir-Moazami, S. (2007) Politisierte Religion. Der Kopftuchstreit in Deutschland und Frankreich, Bielefeld: Transcript.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amir-Moazami, S. (2011) ‘Dialogue as a governmental technique: Managing gendered Islam in Germany’, Feminist Review, Issue 98: 9–27.Google Scholar
  3. Amir-Moazami, S. and Jouili, J.S. (2006) ‘Knowledge, empowerment and religious authority among pious Muslim women in France and Germany’ Muslim World, Vol. 96, No. 4: 617–642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amiraux, V. (2001) Acteurs de l'islam entre Allemagne et Turquie, Paris: L’Harmattan.Google Scholar
  5. Asad, T. (2003) Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity, Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Benhabib, S. (2006) Another Cosmopolitanism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bracke, S. (2008) ‘Conjugating the modern/religious, conceptualizing female religious agency: contours of a ‘post-secular’ conjuncture’ Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 25, No. 6: 51–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, W. (1995) States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity, Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fernando, M. (2010) ‘Reconfiguring freedom: Muslim piety and the limits of secular law and public discourse in France’ American Ethnologist, Vol. 37, No. 1: 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fraser, N. (1992) ‘Rethinking the public sphere: a contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy’ in Calhoun, C. (1992) editor, Habermas and the Public Sphere, Cambridge, London: MIT Press, 109–142.Google Scholar
  11. Foucault, M. (1980) ‘Power/knowledge. Selected interviews and other writings 1972–1977’ in Gordon C. (1980) editor, New York/London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  12. Foucault, M. (2003) Society must be Defended. Lecture at the Collège de France, 1975–76, London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  13. Göle, N. (2002) ‘Islam in public: new visibilities and new imagineries’ Public Culture, Vol. 14, No. 1: 173–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Göle, N. (2005) Interpénétrations. L'islam et l'Europe, Paris: Ed. Galaade.Google Scholar
  15. Hirschkind, C. (2001) ‘Civic virtue and religious reason: an Islamic counterpublic’ Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 16, No. 1: 3–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hollywood, A. (2004) ‘Gender, agency, and the divine in religious historiography’ The Journal of Religion, Vol. 84, No. 4: 514–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jouili, J.S. (2007) Devenir pieuse: Femmes musulmanes en France et en Allemagne entre réforme de soi et quête de reconnaissance, Unpublished dissertation, Paris: EHESS.Google Scholar
  18. Jouili, J.S. (2008a) ‘Re-fashioning the self through religious knowledge: how Muslim women become pious in the German Diaspora’ in Al-Hamarneh, A. and Thielmann, J. (2008) editors, Islam and Muslims in Germany, Leiden: Brill, 465–488.Google Scholar
  19. Jouili, J.S. (2008b) ‘The pains and stakes of “doing the right thing”: Islamic piety and moral reasoning in secular contexts’ Paper presented at the ConferenceMoral Communities, Moral Ambiguities’, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Helsinki, Finland.Google Scholar
  20. Mahmood, S. (2001) ‘Feminist theory, embodiment, and the docile agent: some reflections on the Egyptian Islamic revival’ Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 6, No. 2: 202–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mahmood, S. (2005) Politics of Piety. The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Mahmood, S. (2006) ‘Secularism, Hermeneutics, and Empire: The Politics of Islamic Reformation’ Public Culture, Vol. 18, No. 2: 323–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mendus, S. (1995) ‘Human rights in political theory’ Political Studies, Vol. 43: 11–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Moors, A. (2009) ‘The Dutch and the face-veil: politics of discomfort’ Social Anthropology, Vol. 17, No. 4: 393–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Moosa, E. (2000) ‘The dilemma of Islamic human rights scheme’ Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 15, No. 12: 182–215.Google Scholar
  26. Nasr, S.H. (2002) The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity, New York: Harper Collins Publishers.Google Scholar
  27. Nökel, S. (2002) Die Töchter der Gastarbeiter und der Islam. Zur Soziologie alltagsweltlicher Annerkennungspolitiken. Eine Fallstudie, Bielefeld: transcript.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Okin, S.M. (1999) Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Rawls, J. (1971) A Theory of Justice, Cambridge, MA: Harvard U.P.Google Scholar
  30. Rose, N. (1999) Powers of Freedom. Reframing Political Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sandel, M. (1982) Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Samb, A.M. (2005) De la confiance en Dieu, Paris: al-Bustane.Google Scholar
  33. Scott, D. (1999) Refashioning Futures: Criticism after Postcoloniality, Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Scott, D. (2004) Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment, Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Venel, N. (1999) Musulmanes françaises. Des pratiquantes voilées à l'université, Paris: L’Harmattan.Google Scholar
  36. Waldron, J. (1987) Nonsense upon Stilts. Bentham, Burke and Marx on the Rights of Man, edited with introductory and concluding essays by Waldron, J. (1987) editor, London/New York: Methuen.Google Scholar
  37. Warner, M. (2002) ‘Publics and counterpublics’ Public Culture, Vol. 14, No. 1: 49–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Weibel, N. (2000) Par-delà le voile. Femmes d'islam en Europe, Paris: Complexe.Google Scholar
  39. Wohlrab-Sahr, M. (2003) ‘Politik und religion. ‘Diskretes’ Kulturchristentum als Fluchtpunkt europäischer Gegenbewegungen gegen einen ‘ostentativen’ Islam’ Soziale Welt, Vol. 14, No. Special Issue: 273–297.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Feminist Review 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanette S Jouili

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations