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Power and territoriality: a study of Moroccan women in Antwerp

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Muslim women's participation in Western society is hampered by specific restrictions. This paper, based on qualitative interviews in an ethnic neighbourhood in Antwerp, Belgium, focuses on Moroccan women's participation in leisure activities and their noncommittal use of public space. The paper demonstrates that the difficulties Moroccan women experience in undertaking activities out of the house result from the territorial behaviour of dominant groups wishing to maintain existing power relations. Collins’ matrix of domination is used, into which is integrated Islam, to conceptualise the dominance relations involved. Spatial strategies in the neighbourhood are analysed by means of Sack's human territoriality theory. The author concludes that Sack's theory is well suited to the analysis of territoriality at a neighbourhood level, if his centralised power concept is replaced by a more fragmented one, accounting for both dominance and resistance. In this development of resistance, borders and geographical scale, both neglected by Sack, play a crucial role.
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Keywords: Antwerp; Human territoriality; Moroccan women; feminist geographies; matrix of domination; public space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Catholic University of Leuven

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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