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Etsuko Maruoka

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Wearing “Our Sword”: Post-September 11 Activism Among South Asian Muslim Women Student Organizations in New York

This article explores the forms of political activism among Muslim women of South Asian descent in the post-September 11 era. An ethnographic study of two religious student associations in New York shows a rising trend of “identity movements” centering on the religious dress code of veiling. The women’s narratives discussed in this article illustrate the ways in which socially persecuted young women after September 11 use their practice of the headscarf (or hijab) as a major political tool to fight anti-Islamic sentiment in local and global contexts. The author offers two theoretical views regarding South Asian women’s activism: (1) the cultural “difference” and “disadvantage” that Asian women bear could be also seen as a source of group mobility, strength, and resiliency for their political activism; and (2) women’s religious identity might play a increasingly significant role in boundary formation associated with South Asian women as social and political attention to Muslims and the Islamic faith increases in the future.

Muslim women, identity movement, anti-Islamic sentiment, political activism

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 35, No. 2 (2008-09): 119-133