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‘ Sister you’re not supposed to be wearing tight jeans with that scarf’ ’: Examining discourse, identity and young Muslim women in UK society Bróna Murphy University of Edinburgh . Objective.

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Sister you re not supposed to be wearing tight jeans with that scarf

‘ Sister you’re not supposed to be wearing tight jeans with that scarf’’:

Examining discourse, identity and young Muslim women in UK society

Bróna Murphy

University of Edinburgh


Objective
Objective

  • To investigate a corpus of young Muslim women discourse in order to discover if their use of language reveals insights into the identity of the modern-day young Muslim woman


Muslim culture in the uk
Muslim Culture in the UK

  • Large Muslim presence has existed in Britain since the beginning of the 19th century:

    • seamen and traders from the Middle East settled in Liverpool, South Shields

    • post-war saw Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians arrive to fill the labour shortage in industrial cities (Abbas, 2005: 18-9)

  • Christians accounted for 71.6 per cent of the UK population followed in second place by Muslims (Abbas, 2005)


Representation of muslims
Representation of Muslims

  • Muslims in the UK have become a focus of national concern and debate – ‘an alien other’ (Saaed, 2007)

  • They have found themselves at the centre of a newwave of suspicion and hostility as a result of the terrorist attacks and their aftermath

  • Britain has been seen to develop agendas of equality and multiculturalism (Modood, 2005)


Representation of muslims1
Representation of Muslims

  • Representation of Muslims/Islam in UK and American press (McEnery, 2008; Baker, 2010)

    • Muslims: victims or villains

    • Women as victims, arranged marriages, wearing hijaab

  • Representations of Muslims/Muslim Women in BBC News Reporting (Al-Hejin, 2009)

    • Women: hijaab, should, allowed to


Language and identity
Language and Identity

  • Identity is

    • ‘who we are’ (Joseph, 2004)

    • ‘how people understand their relationship to the world, and...how that relationship is constructed (Norton, 1997: 410)

    • non-fixed, non-rigid and always being co-constructed by individuals of themselves or by people who share certain core values or perceive another group as having such values (Omoniyi and White, 2006)


The muslim women corpus mwc
The Muslim Women Corpus (MWC)

  • 20, 933 word spoken corpus consisting of Muslim women group committee meetings/discussion groups :

    • 20-35 year olds

    • 35-52 year olds

  • Participants belong to theMuslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh(MWAE)

    • Association set up in 2005 by a group of Muslim women who found a lack of educational and social activities for Muslim women in Edinburgh


The muslim women corpus mwc1
TheMuslim Women Corpus (MWC)


Analysis of the mwc
Analysis of the MWC

  • Exploration of the corpus using Wordsmith Tools 5 (Scott, 2008):

    • Keyword analysis of the MWC

    • Collocational and concordance analysis

    • Expanded concordance extracts


Top 40 keywords in mwc
Top 40 Keywords in MWC

Yeah, Muslim, mmh, like, mosque, Islam, women, wear, hijaab, wearing, Edinburgh, pray, prayer, married, husband, woman, feel, scarf, Koran, halal, drink, prophet, stupid, really, community, marriage, friends, Pakistan, veil, young, Jewish, wedding, family, men, he, teenagers, touch, allowed, interrogated, Ramadan


Top 40 keywords in mwc1
Top 40 Keywords in MWC

Yeah, Muslim, mmh, like, mosque, Islam, women, wear, hijaab, wearing, Edinburgh, pray, prayer, married, husband, woman, feel, scarf, Koran, halal, drink, prophet, stupid, really, community, marriage, friends, Pakistan, veil, young, Jewish, wedding, family, men, he, teenagers, touch, allowed, interrogated, Ramadan




Religion muslim1
Religion - Muslim


Religion real muslim
Religion - RealMuslim

  • Nahid: You see when they look at me I feel that in my point of view I feel that when they look at me wearing the long ah coat they say she’s veryreal Muslim she’s very very extremist because it depends they think that’s real Muslim is a very very extremist that’s why I’m trying to be more ah more you know more fashion to be <laughing> show them I’m not extremist like a baby trying to fit in


Religion real muslim1
Religion – RealMuslim

  • Nahid: If we are real Muslim we are following something not real it’s just we are stupid because we are following this guy...we are not enjoying the life like the others we are stupid


Religion good muslim
Religion- GoodMuslim

  • Nahid: Because I don’t blame them ah to be frank I don’t blame them and yeah because of the media <laughing> yeah yeah actually because of the media when you see am ah a shop has been exploded by Muslim ah ahah a plane has been exploded by Muslim they are looking at Muslims as terrorists <friend laughs> yeah I don’t actually I don’t blame them because this is what Muslims doing is not is not a real is nota good Muslim


Religion muslim2
Religion - Muslim


Dress wear wearing
Dress – wear/wearing


Dress hijaab scarf veil
Dress – hijaab, scarf, veil


Dress hijaab
Dress-hijaab


Dress veil
Dress – veil...

  • Aisha: Well when I startedwearinga veil about like four years ago or something I have to say that at that time a lot of my friends had started wearing it as well and that is why I started<laughing> no people would say oh you know you should kind of startwearing it now and I think that is an issue as well that people are are not not forced but there is a kind of pressureto wear it... But then after a while then and then I stoppedwearing it for a bit and then I realised that I wanted to wear it ...


Dress veil1
...Dress - veil

  • Aisha: I just felt it was the right thing to do and I dunno I justkind of missed it I think it just makes me feel like it does give me an identitycos I Idunno I kind of want to be part of a group or something like that...I did feel it in myself that you know I really have a need that I want I feel like I need to wear it


Dress hijaab1
Dress - hijaab

  • Nuha: It was quite honestly my own decision it was quite like I was quite angry at a lot of things actually I thought I would wear it to remind me that I should kind of focus on God ...It reminds me to be a more independent Muslimwomancosit’s a choice I made by myself


Dress hijaab2
Dress - hijaab

  • Nahid: I said you are not Muslim but you are woman <laughing> we share the same so you can look at me without hijaabshe was very so why you are covering your hair with hijaabthis is this is the main questions always we have we just like a stupid we are covering a beauty we have we are not enjoying the life like the others we are stupid<laughing> this is I’m not laughing at them I’m not ah I’m really worrying about them because they don’t know the reasons the real reason that makes me do these things in these tempting situations


Dress hijaab3
Dress - hijaab

  • Nahid: Yeah I can remember the first time I went to Brighton the taxi driver told me “you are Muslim” “yeah” I said “yeah” he said, “yeah but are you coming alone” I said “yes nobody here with me I I’m alone no no not with my family” he said “so why you are wearing hijaab?” I said “because I’m Muslim I have to” he said “no no nobody can see you here” he said “because you are alone” <laughing> I told him <laughing> “this is not the issue” I said I can’t believe how and why they can’t understand why we are wearing hijaabeven if you told him that this is the reason they never convinced youcan’t convince them let them know how to it’s just aam


Dress scarf
Dress – scarf...

  • Nuha: I decided not to wear it and you know I won so I was like <laughing> so I honestly started wearing it after I finished my term cos ...what example would i be if I like gave in to what other people thought I should wear but it was kinda funny cos the week after I started wearing thescarf some like random person in the supermarket came up to me and went ‘Sister you’re not supposed to be wearing tight jeans with that scarf’ <laughing>


Dress scarf1
...Dress- scarf

  • Nasim: <laughing> And you’re like <laughing>

  • Nuha: I was like what <laughing> and I honestly had no idea who I like who this person was <laughing> and I was like okay <laughing>

  • Nasim: So you just said okay <laughing>

  • Nuha: It was genuine as like you know I I presume his intentions were genuine like <laughing> genuine trying to make me a better Muslim I I say okay thank you very much <laughing> it was really strange <laughing>


Observations identity
Observations - Identity

  • Important traditional Muslim values e.g. hijaab, sense of community

  • How Muslims think non-Muslims perceive them e.g. stupid, extremists

  • A desire to be seen as ‘normal’, as human beings

  • A sense of realism which provides a contemporary insight e.g. clothing, fitting in


Reference list
Reference List

Abbas, T. 2005. Muslim Britain: communities under pressure. Zed Books.

Al-Heijin, B. 2009. ‘What matters about Muslim women? A comparison of BBC news and Arab news 1997-2008’. ICAME 30, Lancaster, May 2009.

Baker, P. 2010. ‘Representations of Islam in British broadsheet and tabloid newspapers 1999-2005’. Language and Politics. Forthcoming.

Joseph, J. 2004. Language and Identity: National, Ethnic, Religious. Palgrave Macmillan.


Reference list1
Reference List

McEnery, T. 2008. ‘Moral Panic? Representations of Islam in the British and American Press 1999-2005. ICAME 29, Ascona, Switzerland

Modood, 2005. Foreword in Abbas, T. Muslim Britain: communities under pressure. Zed Books

Omoniyi, T and White, G. 2006. The Sociolinguistics of Identity. Continuum.

Saaed, A. 2007. Media, Racism and Islamophobia: The representation of Islam and Muslims in the Media. Sociology Compass 1 (2): 443-462