Controversy surrounding French legislation effectively banning hijab in public schools has sparked similar public debates over Islamic dress in a variety of national settings, including Australia. In the Australian context, some claim that hijab is “symbolic of a clash of cultures” and should be banned in schools, while for others it represents a legitimate expression of religious identity that is compatible with Australian multiculturalism. Drawing on ethnographic research carried out among participants in an Australian Muslim youth development program, I argue that hijab can only be understood in terms of the meaning ascribed to it by those who wear it and the roles it plays in their everyday social encounters. As the findings discussed in this paper demonstrate, the young women involved in the program made strategic use of hijab as a means of negotiating subjective positions, both within the program and in relation to Australian society in general. The findings also indicate that despite the lack of political support for a ban on hijab in Australian schools, negative representations of hijabi identity played a significant role in shaping the subjective identities of hijabi participants.
|Keywords:||Hijab, Veil, Muslim Youth, Multiculturalism, Subjective Identity|
PhD Candidate, School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
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