Accepted Paper:

“Honour and shame” on the move: sexualities and multicultural tensions in an Austrian town  


Sabine Strasser (University of Bern)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will first deal with the legal and social situation of Islam and Muslims in Austria and then turn to particular 'troublesome issues' at the intersection of gender equality and ethnic/religious diversity in a small town.

Paper long abstract:

The public debate on Muslims in the European Union increasingly focuses on the verdict that Muslims are 'not willing to integrate' and contribute to the formation of 'parallel societies'. Hierarchical gender relations and crimes 'in the name of honour' (e.g. forced marriages, honour killings, virginity tests, and genital mutilation) have recently become the centre of attention and a main argument for the retreat from principles of multicultural accommodation. Despite the general rejection of the idea that Islam is responsible for these 'harmful traditions', legal as well as political practices in Austria not only combat violence against women but also fuel anxieties between different religious and ethnic groups. Honour is in this context presented as an uncontested tradition and reduced to men's sexual control or violence against women. I will show how this debate on crimes 'in the name of honour', shaped by the idea of 'cultural difference' as something coming from the outside and being concentrated in segregated Muslim enclaves, affects neighbourhood relations and the minority-majority power structures in a small town in Austria.

Panel W079
Globalising neighbourhoods or tradition-based parallel societies? Studying migration and cultural diversity in rural areas