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UAL Research Online

Veiling and Visibility in the City: The Hijab and Public Space in Finland

Almila, Anna-Mari (2014) Veiling and Visibility in the City: The Hijab and Public Space in Finland. In: British Sociological Association Annual Conference, 23-25 April, 2014, Leeds.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Almila, Anna-Mari
Description:

Hijab - female ‘Islamic’ veiling - has been often violently debated in Europe for over two decades, resulting in many academic studies. However, the relations between social spaces and veiling practices remain largely unexplored. Based on ethnographic research in Finland, I analyse the hijab in Finnish social spaces. Drawing on Lefebvre’s theory of space, I claim that dress styles are profoundly connected to the spatial and material characteristics of cities, and therefore follow logics inherent to that space. In the dialectics of how dress and space 'fit' or do not fit, a dress style following a different spatial logic to the norm is in conflict with surrounding space and so will seem 'foreign' and 'unsuitable' to those following local dress and spatial codes. Such processes apply to Arabian full-body veils in the Finnish context. Finland's so-called ‘architecture of transparency’ demands certain kinds of visibility from the ‘users’ of public space. This constructs certain kinds of veiling as 'dishonest' and 'suspicious'. This type of architecture also creates many opportunities for surveillance, making face-veiling Muslim women problematically visible in the Finnish public sphere. Muslim women themselves are highly conscious of the high visibility of their attire, and seek to manage it by attempting either to reduce visibility completely or embracing it and self-consciously drawing attention to themselves. I explore the subtle ways in which space, dress and identity combine to create feelings of security and insecurity among Muslim women, drawing attention to their forms of 'dress agency' within often challenging socio-spatial conditions.

Official Website: http://www.britsoc.co.uk/events/bsa-annual-conference.aspx
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: Islamic fashion, face-veil, Muslim women, Finland
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 23 April 2014
Event Location: Leeds
Date Deposited: 27 May 2014 13:28
Last Modified: 27 May 2014 13:28
Item ID: 6657
URI: http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/6657

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