Building Christian-Muslim relations through beauty practices in Madina
Kauthar Khamis (Leiden University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper focuses on the encounters between women of different religious, ethnic and social background in everyday beauty practices. The presentation takes beauty salons in Madina, a multi-religious and multi-ethnic suburb of Accra as an entry point.
Paper long abstract:
In contemporary Ghanaian society beauty is considered from different perspectives-moral, physical, spiritual and sexual-that are intricately linked. Women in Ghana try to enhance their physical beauty in several ways and this has implications for the other dimensions. In so doing, they take into account not only longstanding traditional beauty practices, but also negotiate Christian and Muslim beauty regimes. Interestingly, the beauty practices of Muslim and Christian women partly differ and partly overlap. This paper focuses on the encounters between women of different religious, ethnic and social background in everyday beauty practices. The presentation takes beauty salons in Madina, a multi-religious and multi-ethnic suburb of Accra, as the main entry point into studying beauty practices amongst Christian and Muslim women. The main aim is to examine how physical beauty practices of both Christian and Muslim women bring them together or set them apart in a religiously pluralistic community, and to what extent borrowing and appropriation of beauty practices of the 'other' yield connections or tensions. It also investigates how women are able to negotiate or sometimes compromise their religious identities in order to gain physical beauty. In this regard, Kwame Appiah's concept of "cosmopolitan contamination" which discusses cross cultural influences will provide useful insights for our discussions.