Accepted Paper:

Integration between the poles of cultural difference: the intersectionality of Islam and gender in the Tyrolean municipality of Telfs  


Christina Hollomey (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to show an example of a local integration project, particularly focusing on two Turkish-Islamic associations in the Tyrolean municipality of Telfs. How does a multicultural discourse contribute to the exclusion of women in the process of negotiating "integration".

Paper long abstract:

Although the general discourse on cultural diversity as well as the policy framework regarding the integration of immigrants is created on a national level, it is local municipalities which are actually implementing integration projects. In trying to prevent social divisions and finding new ways of "living together" municipalities liaise with migrant associations in order to get into contact with the local immigrant population. However, as both actors often employ a view of "culture" that is essentialist and tends to "naturalize" hegemonic religious, ethnic or national constructions of identity, integration projects may fail to address basic structural inequalities between social majorities and minorities. Even more so, asymmetric participation structures within migrant associations remain unquestioned. This particularly affects marginalized groups who are not asked for their (dis)agreement to the way "their" culture is represented to society at large.

The focus of this paper is on women engaged in two Turkish Islamic associations in the Austrian Tyrolean municipality of Telfs. Discussing the example of a locally implemented integration project, it analyses how a multicultural discourse can serve to legitimate asymmetric participation structures within associations, as well as to reproduce them in the cooperation between migrant organizations and local municipalities.

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