The Headscarf as a Discursive Battlefield
Positions of the Current Discourse on Muslim Veiling in Austria and Germany
Practices of Muslim female veiling are a frequent object of concern in the political debate in Austria and Germany. Reviewing current empirical and theoretical literature on the issue, I will try to trace relevant positions of the current debate employing a theoretical framework based on poststructuralist discourse theory. As I want to show, dominant discursive positions frequently refer to the oppressive element of the headscarf, understand it as opposed to shared ‘Western’ values or interpret it as an element of a process of Islamisation. Other, often marginalised speakers try to constitute veiling as a matter of freedom of religion, as a spiritual endeavour or as an act of resistance. Many of the positions represented in the public discourse, I argue, tend to overlook the variety of experiences Muslim women face at the intersection of various forms of dominance, and make invisible some of the multiple layers of meaning the practice of veiling is imbued with.
Keywords: Veiling • Headscarf • Islam • Discourse analysis • Headscarf debate • Hijab • Discourse