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Ritual performance and belonging in everyday life

Iraqi women in Denmark is an ethnographic study of ritual performance and place-making among Shi‘a Muslim Iraqi women in Copenhagen. The book explores how Iraqi women construct a sense of belonging to Danish society through ritual performances, and it investigates how this process is interrelated with their experiences of inclusion and exclusion in Denmark. The findings of the book refute the all too simplistic assumptions of general debates on Islam and immigration in Europe that tend to frame religious practice as an obstacle to integration in the host society. In sharp contrast to the fact that Iraqi women’s religious activities in many ways contribute to categorizing them as outsiders to Danish society, their participation in religious events also localizes them in Copenhagen. Drawing on anthropological theories of ritual, relatedness and place-making, the analysis underscores the necessity of investigating migrants’ notions of belonging not just as a phenomenon of identity, but also with regard to the social relations and practices through which belonging is constructed and negotiated in everyday life.The Iraqi women’s religious engagement is related to their social positions in Danish society, and the study particularly highlights how social class relations intersect with issues of gender and ethnicity in the Danish welfare state, linking women’s religious practices to questions of social mobility. The book contextualizes this analysis by describing women’s previous lives in Iraq and their current experiences with return visits to a post-war society.

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Ritual performance and belonging
Marianne Holm Pedersen

Conclusion Ritual performance and belonging In this book, I have explored Iraqi women’s constructions of belonging in Denmark. I started by pointing out the contradiction that, while from a Danish majority perspective Iraqi (Muslim) women are viewed as not belonging in Denmark, from their own perspectives they are thoroughly grounded in Denmark through their local lives in Copenhagen. I then suggested that in order to understand this contradiction it is useful to explore the social relations and processes of place-making that are part of these women’s daily

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Notions of belonging revised
Marianne Holm Pedersen

migrants’ ways of living. However, when they return to their former place of residence, they may well realise that not only the organisation of their daily lives, but also many practices and ways of interaction have changed, thus affecting their sense of belonging to different places (Grünenberg 2006; Pedersen 2003; Stefansson 2003). Likewise, the place of origin is no longer the same as the place they left (Warner 1994). In this chapter, I will investigate how the increase in transnational practices among Iraqi women and their families in Iraq affected women’s sense of

in Iraqi women in Denmark
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Ritual performance and place-making in everyday life
Marianne Holm Pedersen

; Werbner 2002b). Such cultural expressions are generally performed by a small elite and they therefore tell us little about how ordinary people construct notions of belonging while living in exile. In contrast, the rituals I have studied were organised, performed and interpreted by Iraqi women during their daily lives in Copenhagen. The book thereby takes its starting point in women’s own cultural expressions (cf. Bruner 1986a: 7). A large number of studies in anthropology and sociology have debated the definitions or interpretations of ritual, moving across the broad

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Processes of settlement in Denmark
Marianne Holm Pedersen

only know one Dane, and she didn’t even invite me to her wedding!’ Ignoring Umm Zainap’s comment about the fact that I had not invited her to my recent wedding celebration, I asked her, slightly stunned: ‘Am I really the only Dane you know?’ ‘Yes’, she replied, ‘how should I get to know Danes? They are closed people’. Umm Zainap’s limited contact with ethnic Danes turned out not to be unusual among the Iraqi women with whom I worked. Despite the fact that my main interlocutors had been living for between eight and seventeen years in Denmark, their primary social

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Notions of relatedness among extended families
Marianne Holm Pedersen

major holidays, it also affected women’s everyday lives. I therefore use the discussion of ‘Id al-fitr as the starting point for a more general discussion of notions of relatedness associated with kinship among the Iraqi women. By looking at the expectations and obligations inherent in particular social relationships, I will investigate the ways in which women’s relations with their extended family and neighbours linked them with their place of origin and served as a framework for the construction of belonging. The new social context in Denmark meant that the

in Iraqi women in Denmark
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Bringing up children for a good future
Marianne Holm Pedersen

relatedness discussed earlier: connection through descent and the sharing of everyday practices and obligations. However, the Iraqi women perceived the ‘intergenerational contract’ as being threatened by the social structure of Danish society. Some parents did not raise their children properly, they said, and they expected that as a consequence children would start caring less for their parents. For instance, this was said about families in which the adult children did not visit their parents frequently. In this way, many women perceived raising children as particularly

in Iraqi women in Denmark
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Challenges of belonging
Marianne Holm Pedersen

exotic. The women dressed in their black abayas,2 as well as the weeping, recitation and rites of lamentation, gave the impression of migrants performing rituals from their homeland, keeping alive traditional norms and practices and emphasising their sense of attachment to their places of origin. It also fitted well into Danish public discourses that see Muslim women as culturally oppressed ‘others’ who are isolated but also refuse to become part of Danish society. In sum, the event seemed to epitomise all the ways in which Iraqi women did not belong in Denmark

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Open Access (free)
The Algerian war and the ‘emancipation’ of Muslim women, 1954–62
Author: Neil Macmaster

In May 1958, and four years into the Algerian War of Independence, a revolt again appropriated the revolutionary and republican symbolism of the French Revolution by seizing power through a Committee of Public Safety. This book explores why a repressive colonial system that had for over a century maintained the material and intellectual backwardness of Algerian women now turned to an extensive programme of 'emancipation'. After a brief background sketch of the situation of Algerian women during the post-war decade, it discusses the various factors contributed to the emergence of the first significant women's organisations in the main urban centres. It was only after the outbreak of the rebellion in 1954 and the arrival of many hundreds of wives of army officers that the model of female interventionism became dramatically activated. The French military intervention in Algeria during 1954-1962 derived its force from the Orientalist current in European colonialism and also seemed to foreshadow the revival of global Islamophobia after 1979 and the eventual moves to 'liberate' Muslim societies by US-led neo-imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the women of Bordj Okhriss, as throughout Algeria, the French army represented a dangerous and powerful force associated with mass destruction, brutality and rape. The central contradiction facing the mobile socio-medical teams teams was how to gain the trust of Algerian women and to bring them social progress and emancipation when they themselves were part of an army that had destroyed their villages and driven them into refugee camps.

Place, space and discourse
Editors: Christine Agius and Dean Keep

Identity is often regarded as something that is possessed by individuals, states, and other agents. In this edited collection, identity is explored across a range of approaches and under-explored case studies with a view to making visible its fractured, contingent, and dynamic features. The book brings together themes of belonging and exclusion, identity formation and fragmentation. It also examines how identity functions in discourse, and the effects it produces, both materially and in ideational terms. Taking in case studies from Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, the various chapters interrogate identity through formal governing mechanisms, popular culture and place. These studies demonstrate the complex and fluid nature of identity and identity practices, as well as implications for theorising identity.