Embodied Enlightenment: The Submissive Islamic Female Body in the Contemporary Dutch Enlightenment Project

By Katherine Margaret Kirk.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A new form of Dutch Nationalism, which identifies itself with the Enlightenment, is using the Islamic female body as a symbolic battle ground on which to fight against native Muslims and their beliefs. Just as in other orientalist
depictions of Islamic women, in this discourse they are eroticised and depicted as suppressed while the women’s own conceptions of themselves are dismissed. ‘Enlightenment fundamentalist’, as this brand of nationalist will be
called, have adopted an absolute moral belief in the superiority of what they perceive to be the Enlightenment values, such as equality between the sexes, underlying Dutch political and social relations. This form of absolutism
leaves no room of dialogue with Islamic women about their lives and their bodies. Thus, ‘enlightenment fundamentalists’ have failed in their emancipitory mission and they have further polarise Dutch society.

Keywords: Marginalization, Islamic Women, The Netherlands, Enlightenment Fundamentalism

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.199-204. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 508.930KB).

Dr Katherine Margaret Kirk

PhD Student, The School of Politics , International Relations, and Philosophy, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, UK

During my undergraduate studies I focused on the fields of anthropology and political science. In particular, I concentrated on the political and cultural factors contributing to social exclusion within the Western World. Through my course work I became fascinated by the impact of transnationalism and globalisation on the choices and opportunities available to minority groups at the local level. As a master’s student in Political Science at Leiden University, I focused on the areas of political theory and political socialization. I explored the political institutions and power relations that foster social exclusion. My thesis examined these issues in the context of the debate on homosexual marriage in the United States. Herein I used an interdisciplinary approach drawn from political science and anthropology. I am currently a first year PhD student at Queens University Belfast and I am conducting research on conceptions of citizenship in the Netherlands. I have chosen to research citizenship because, as a concept, it sharpens the analysis of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary Europe. The Netherlands is a particularly interesting case study because of recent shifts from multiculturalism to republican conceptions of citizenship in light of large numbers of Muslim immigrants.

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