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Current Research Projects

Women from Muslim Communities and Politics in Britain and France

ESRC finded project RES-062-23-0380

Khursheed Wadia (with Danièle Joly) both in the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations

The aim of this research is to find out how Muslim women in Britain and France constitute themselves as social and political actors as a result of their interactions within the structural frameworks and political cultures of the two countries.

Although women constitute a significant proportion of Muslim communities in both countries, they figure very infrequently in public discourses on the place of Muslims in public life. Where women are mentioned or depicted, it is almost always in relation to questions of sexuality and gender relations (wearing hijab, forced marriage, honour crimes and so on) so that ultimately western discourses end up reinforcing the view that Muslim women are hidden from the public eye, that they are submissive, subjugated, apathetic or uninformed beings, unable or unwilling to act as subjects in their own right and hence not entirely worthy of the many rights accruing from social, economic and political participation.

We explore the way in which the articulation of gender, ethnicity/ethnicities and faith impacts on Muslim women’s political participation; how, in Britain and France, these women identify facilitators and obstacles within Islam, their specific ethnic communities and in western majority society in order to negotiate ways of living and acting within the private sphere of family and the public political arena.

Britain and France are selected as sites of comparison because these are two major (EU) democracies; traditionally, they constitute subjects of comparison in political science due to differences between their political histories, cultures and institutions; both countries have large Muslim populations and hence offer a vast scope for examining Muslim women’s political participation.