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New transnational geographies of Islamism, capitalism and subjectivity: the veiling-fashion industry in Turkey

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The rise of the transnational veiling-fashion industry in Turkey has taken place within the context of neoliberal economic restructuring, the subjection of the veil to new regulations, and the resurgence of Islamic identities worldwide. Even after almost two decades since its first catwalk appearance, the idea of ‘veiling-fashion’ continues to be controversial, drawing criticism from secular and devout Muslim segments of society alike. Analysing veiling-fashion as it plays out across economic, political and cultural fields is to enter into a new understanding of the role of Islam in the global arena today. Veiling-fashion crystallises a series of issues about Islamic identity, the transnational linkages of both producers and consumers, and the shifting boundaries between Islamic ethics and the imperatives of neoliberal capitalism. In this paper, our overarching argument is that controversies and practices surrounding veiling-fashion show how Islamic actors are adapting and transforming neoliberal capitalism at the same time as they navigate a complex geopolitical terrain in which Islam – and the iconic Muslim, headscarf-wearing woman – has been cast as a threatening ‘Other’. Thus the rise of veiling-fashion as a transnational phenomenon positions women and women's bodies at the centre of political debates and struggles surrounding what it means to be ‘modern’ and Muslim today. Based on interviews with producers, consumers and salesclerks, and our analysis of newspaper articles, catalogues and web sites, this article traces out how the transnational production, sale and consumption of veiling-fashion works to order spaces of geopolitics, geo-economics and subject formation.

Keywords: Islam; Turkey; fashion; neoliberalism; transnational; veiling

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3220, USA, Email: 2: Department of Geography, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0027, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2009


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