Tørklædet på dansk

Maria Pagels

Student thesis: Master thesis


Drawn on qualitative research, the aim of this thesis is to give voice to headscarved Danish women and through this to arrive at an understanding of their perceptions and experiences of the headscarf and the headscarf issue in Denmark. I have therefore interviewed young Muslim women at the ages between 18 and 22 who all wear the headscarf. The Muslim headscarf has been a hot issue in Denmark through the last years. Especially the muslim woman Asmaa Abdol-­‐Hamid has drawn attention to this relative new phenomena where young muslim women with a strong educational background claim their space in society. Based on Judith Butlers (1956-­‐) theoretical notion of interpellation, performativity and agency, I analyze how the headscarf and the women who wear it are positioned in the public debate; how this influences the way the headscarved women utilize the headscarf and finally which effects – if any – this new position articulated by the headscarved women has had on the public discourse on muslim women and the headscarf. The thesis concludes that restricting the headscarf issue only to the oppression of Muslim women and cultural differences negates understanding of how the headscarf is utilized as a symbol and an instrument of resistance identity building in the Danish context where an exclusive mono-­‐cultural notion of Danish identity has become increasingly pronounced. I have shown how the Muslim women create new Muslim figures: Those who have acquired a double symbolic capital, both religious and secular. The latter refers to their educational background that provides them with the techniques required to communicate in modern spaces as schools, workplaces and media. This new Muslim figure is furthermore reflected in their alternative dress codes where they both display the religious identity with the headscarf but at the same time combine it with a more secular fashionable dress practice. The result is a fashionable version of the Islamic dress that alters the image of a traditional Islamic woman and thereby deconstructs this conception. The message from the headscarved women seems to be that it is possible to be different/ Muslim and Danish at the same time, but they don’t seem to be able (for now) to convince their audience, as reflected in the national debate, as the latter perceives the headscarf as a polemic or a provocative sign and therefore rejects it. Considering the discrepancy between the uptake of the headscarf in the national debate and the way that the headscarved women themselves experience the headscarf, it is not easy to tell what the future regarding this issue will bring. Whether there will actually become an acceptance of the new category that the headscarved women propose or whether the headscarf will be banned in public spaces like educational institutions as in France and Turkey and thereby prevent them from living as they do now.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages85