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Gendering the diversification of diversity

[journal article]

Coene, Gily; Longman, Chia

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Abstract This article presents an analysis of the recent headscarf debate in Belgium, and explores in particular to what extent issues of gender equality and feminist arguments were central to the discussion. It is argued that compared to France, concerns about secularity and state-neutrality, national identity and equality, all find resonance in the Belgian context, but are articulated in a more ambiguous and less `principled' way. This partly explains the paradoxical situation in which, despite a widespread resistance to a general law banning the wearing of religious symbols in public schools, in practice, headscarf prohibitions are on the rise throughout various regions of the country. Although issues of gender equality and cultural diversity often cut and flow across debates and policies in European nation states, the Belgian hijab question provides a unique case, because of various lines of fracture and processes of increasing diversification that characterize Belgian society.
Classification Women's Studies, Feminist Studies, Gender Studies
Free Keywords gender equality; headscarves; multiculturalism; national identity; neutrality of the state; public education;
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 302-321
Journal Ethnicities, 8 (2008) 3
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)