‘Muslim women’, Islam and sport : ‘race’, culture and identity in post-colonial

Farooq, Samaya (2010) ‘Muslim women’, Islam and sport : ‘race’, culture and identity in post-colonial Britain. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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This thesis offers insight into the lives and lived (sporting) experiences of 20 British born Muslim women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage. They comprise working professionals and students who live in the urban diaspora community of Stratley, UK, and have been playing basketball (since April 2007) in preparation for the 5th Islamic Women’s Games. Adopting a post-colonial philosophical consciousness this qualitative ethnographic study centralises the voices of subjects who are pathologised in media-hyped discourses pertaining to the ‘Islamic peril’ on the one hand, and simultaneously truncated by the demise of fundamentalist Islamism on the other. It does this by addressing four inter-related research questions. The first asks how membership of urban diasporic communities contributes to British Muslim women’s self-identifications and whether living in such spaces shapes the nature and context of women’s (social) lives and their entry to sport. The second question explores the extents to which British Muslim women are able to activate a ‘politics of difference’ to (re)-negotiate their access to sport. The third question centralises the complex identity politics of being ‘British Muslims’ and assesses, in particular, whether my respondents’ sporting ambitions have any impact on their identity work as ‘British born’ Muslim women who are of a migrant heritage. The fourth question also addresses British Muslim women’s sense of self, but investigates, in particular, whether playing basketball has any impact on the ‘self/bodywork’ of single, heterosexual ‘British-born’ Muslim women of a migrant heritage. Drawing upon critical literatures rooted in post-colonial, Asian and Islamic feminism the study contextualises the conditions of post-colonialism for Muslim individuals in Britain, especially Muslim women. It also focuses upon debates pertaining to Muslim women and sport. By privileging marginal epistemologies that have often been silenced or distorted through essentialist, uncritical and simplistic understandings of ‘Muslim women’, findings advance arguments about the lives, lifestyles and identities of subjects whose social, gendered, cultural and religious authenticities beneath the (body) veil evoke both sensitive questions and global concerns (especially in the aftermath of 9/11). The overall discussion brings into sharp focus the collective and subjective struggles of respondents in terms of their identity re/construction. I allude to the agentic capacity which my respondents had to re-constitute and re-negotiate aspects of their day-to-day lives, their engagement with sport, their identities and their bodies. I exemplify the myriad ways and extents to which my participants struggle against multiple material constraints that impose a particular ‘identity’ upon Muslim women and enforce a way of life upon them that restricts their access to sports. The thesis concludes that those frequently depicted as being oppressed and voiceless do indeed have the power to relationally make, unmake and/or remake their selfhoods.
Item Type:Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):Muslim women -- Great Britain -- Case studies, Basketball for women -- Great Britain -- Case studies, Sociology, Urban -- Great Britain
Date:July 2010
Institution:University of Warwick
Thesis Type:PhD
Supervisor(s)/Advisor:Hughes, Christina, 1952- ; Parker, Andrew, 1965-
Sponsors:Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC)
Extent:vi, 274 leaves : ill.