Silvestri on the Identities of Europe’s Muslim Women

In June, Columbia University Press will publish Europe’s Muslim Women: Beyond the Burqa Controversy, by  Dr. Sara Silvestri, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at City University London.  Silvestri’s text attempts to transcend the international debates—e.g., about the burqa, the niqab, and subjection to men—surrounding Muslim women in Europe that inadvertently have the effect of obscuring who these women actually are.  Through the content of interviews and surveys, Silvestri hopes to paint a truer portrait of the domestic, religious, and socio-political identities of Europe’s Muslim women.

Please see the publisher’s description after the jump.

Sara Silvestri urges readers to move beyond the “burqa debate” and appreciate the complexity of Europe’s female Muslim population. Synthesizing years of research on European Islam and incorporating recent fieldwork among Muslim women in five European countries, Silvestri’s groundbreaking book offers an innovative, comparative perspective for those seeking a deeper understanding of this group. 

Between 2008 and 2010, Silvestri conducted in-person research in Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, and Spain. Through interviews and questionnaires, she recorded the views of Muslim women from a variety of backgrounds and professions. Bringing their voices to the fore, Silvestri shares the daily concerns, aspirations, and challenges of these women, illuminating their agency, community, and relational status within their families and society. Her work underscores the inadequacy of fixed typologies and trite discourses of victimhood and oppression. Silvestri offers unprecedented insight into the experiences of these women, which differ from those of their counterparts in the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa. She details their relationship to and understanding of faith and tradition, their contact with and perception of their communities, and, most important, their contribution to and involvement with European society.

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