Nieuwe Moslima’s: Gender Discourse, Identity, and Conversion in the Netherlands
KeywordsThe Netherlands: Sexuality and Gender Identity
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
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AbstractMy research looks at the discourses on gender in Islam and in Dutch culture as developed by female converts to Islam in the Netherlands. The goal of this research is to view the issue of conversion to Islam from the perspective of Dutch Muslim women, and to include them within the field of feminist research. In five informal interviews conducted with female converts, four Dutch and one Welsh, I discussed gender issues in Islam and in the Netherlands. I approached the data from two perspectives: Foucauldian postmodern theory and realist feminist theory on identity. I found that female converts critique Dutch society and cultural Islamic practices when speaking about issues of gender. My conclusion is that since the converts are both insiders and outsiders in Dutch society and in Muslim communities, they are in distinct position to make a critique that exposes the inconsistencies between theory and practice. They do this by appropriating the discursive tools that are meant to oppress them, and using them to empower themselves. The discourse on gender also serves to redefine the convert’s identity as a Dutch/Western Muslim woman.