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Accepted Paper:

Negotiating moral values, personal desires, and everyday Islam among Zanzibari women, through the use of mobile phones   
Marloes Hamelink (African Studies Centre Leiden)

Paper short abstract:

Communication technologies are used by women in Zanzibar to conform to socially expected moral values which are part of the everyday practice of Islam, and also to create the freedom to live according to contrasting personal desires.

Paper long abstract:

Moral values determine many aspects of 'the everyday' for women in Zanzibar. These values are rooted in the Islamic traditions of the archipelago. Morality is gendered, as women are predominately held responsible for both living according to moral ideas and in raising their children with certain values. Through a system of social surveillance, neighborhood communities and family members take on the responsibility of monitoring moral practices of others. Women live according to these societal expectations, and meanwhile they have personal desires that might be in contrast with certain moral values. My research focuses on how the use of communication technologies enables women to navigate between both discourses. Mobile phone and internet use are embedded in the societal system of moral values, and the religious cultural background of women helps determine how mobile phones and internet are used. Through the use of communication technologies, women can negotiate between living according to these societal expectations, in addition to following their personal desires. Internet and mobile phone use allow different communication levels for women, without leaving the safe and controlled environment that they inhabit. According to gendered norms, women find innovative ways of being in touch with others in other spaces. This paper seeks an understanding of the dynamics of mobile phone and internet use in the everyday moral practice of Islam.

Panel P094
Gendering 'everyday Islam'
  Session 1