Giving Muslim girls ‘a voice’: the possibilities and limits to challenging patriarchal interpretations of Islam in one English community
This paper presents the philosophies and practices of 'Laura', a young English community liaison worker and former religious studies teacher who has recently converted to Islam. Drawing on data generated from a qualitative and predominantly interview-based research project that investigated issues of pedagogy and social justice in English schools, the focus is on Laura's efforts to support Muslim girls through an Islamic discussion group. The paper highlights how Laura draws on Islamic beliefs to support the girls' questioning of patriarchal interpretations of Islam within their Pakistani immigrant community. The paper also provides insight, however, into some of the tensions and limitations of Laura's liberatory approach in terms of her positioning as white, western, and middle-class. Against this backdrop, a self-reflexive approach that is sensitive to how 'ethnic-specific sociability' shapes understandings and enactments of gender is advocated. Such an approach is presented as central in considering how spaces of gender justice might be mobilised within community environments where unprecedented levels of multi-cultural fragmentation and diversity have amplified tensions and conflict between and amongst racial and religious groups.
Pedagogy, Culture & Society
Gender, Sexuality and Education