Of Bodies and Burkinis: Institutional Islamophobia, Islamic Dress, and the Colonial Condition

2020-04-02T14:25:18Z (GMT) by Kimberley Brayson

The 2016 burkini controversy and the criminalization of visibly Muslim women in France is a violent reminder of the precarity of colonial bodies in public space. These laws demonstrate the ongoing management of colonial bodies and communities which speaks over time from historical colonization to present, and future, neocolonial narratives. This article moves beyond the dominant logics of security and gender oppression in the Islamic dress debate which, it is argued, are invoked in a strategic manner to obfuscate the colonial condition and engender a normative, institutional Islamophobia in the public‐political imaginary. It critiques the instrumental use of law in creating political space for such agendas and analyses the whiteness of public space and institutions. The article insists that it is necessary to acknowledge the epistemic lens of the colonial condition in the Islamic dress debate and critically reflects on the alienation and reduced capacity for action of bodies wearing Islamic dress.

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