A peculiar collaborative project: the making of the fashionable Muslim woman in Turkey
(University of Bucharest)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores ethnographically the collaborative assemblage of a particular ‘entity’, namely the fashionable yet pious Muslim woman; this brings together actors who hold different aesthetic, ethical and ideological understandings of what means and who can be a modern person in Turkey.
Paper long abstract:
In Turkey, in recent years, companies have diversified existing lines of Islamic dress; secular and conservative designers have begun designing for Islamic wardrobes; glossy Islamic lifestyle magazines have been launched; social media has become a platform for Islamic fashion related activity; and many women have flamboyantly positioned themselves as practitioners and intermediaries of Islamic fashion (attracting both admiration and criticism). In order to successfully enter this arena, these actors (must) fashion themselves as and construct and collaborate with a new type of person, that is, the fashionable yet pious Muslim woman. This takes place at personal and ideational levels, and necessitates material, visual and discursive formulations. However, given the social and political context, these actors might not get involved in this assembling project out of conviction only, but also necessity and, in the process, might contribute to the (de)stabilization and (re)formulation of the category of (modern)(Muslim)personhood. Turkey is the only Muslim country which was established as a modern state under an explicit rejection of Islamic influences on dress and where fashion was ideologically designated as an arena for the construction of personhood. Although under the decade-long government of an Islam-rooted party, the public presence of Islamic dress has been normalised, this has yet to be accepted by all sections of the Turkish society. Drawing upon research conducted in Istanbul, this paper explores how aesthetic, ethical and ideological differences are dealt with in the process of constructing this person and aims to enhance our understanding of such collaborative assemblages.
Collaboratively assembling persons