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Accepted Paper:

All her glory: Religious women's fashion and the cosmopolitan condition  
Dalit Simchai (Tel Hai College) Amalia Sa'ar (U of Haifa)

Paper short abstract:

This paper documents fashion among religious Muslim and Jewish women in Israel as a dispositive that engenders a cosmopolitan worldview. We argue that it creates a common space, open to diversity and global influences, which is shared by communities that otherwise perceive each other as enemies.

Paper long abstract:

The talk will present work in progress about fashion among religious Muslim and Jewish women in Israel, as a lens to the vernacularization of cosmopolitanism in a Middle Eastern setting. Religious women's fashion (RWF) has captured the attention of the global fashion industry and has gained growing momentum in critical feminist literature. We draw on the latter and aim to take it a step further by treating RWF as a dispositive, whose unstable structure encourages participants to reach out across group boundaries, which they rarely do otherwise, therefore engendering a cosmopolitan outlook. RWF spreads across offline and online spaces, inviting participants to move back and forth between local, regional, and global relations, images, and destinations. Concomitantly, communitarian ethics and parochial orientations inadvertently blend with the late-modern habitus and its compulsion to self-invent. RWF's analytical importance lies in the fact that it features seemingly unexpected combinations of lifestyles and moral discourses. Indeed, our ethnography of religious Muslim and Jewish women's fashion practices documents unprecedented interactions between members of communities that otherwise perceive each other as enemies. We find that the RWF dispositif entails innovative maps of semiotic exchange and surprising affinities among Strangers, which effectively redraw the contours of the common. Accordingly, we suggest that RWF may offer hope for a sustainable, if seemingly incidental and unstable, coexistence of communities that are simultaneously racist and segregationist, but also diverse and open to global influences.

Panel P127a
The Reconfiguration of the Cosmopolitan: 'Being Transnational' in Viral Times
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -