Dressing Religious Bodies in Public Spaces: Gender, Clothing and Negotiations of Stigma Among Jews in Paris and Muslims in London
Topics: Clothing, Ethnography, Comparisons with other communities, Main Topic: Identity and Community
Abstract: In recent years religious clothing has become prevalent across many European cities, making religious bodies more visible in public spaces. This paper brings together our separate research on Jews in Paris and Muslims in London. While recognising the clear differences between these two socio-political contexts and distinct religious groups, we suggest that a focus on clothing allows us to consider some points of similarity and difference in the presentation of gendered religious bodies, particularly in situations of heightened stigmatisation. We draw upon Goffman’s notion of impression management, in contexts of risks and threats, to explore how individuals experience and negotiate self presentation as members of stigmatised religious groups. We use rich qualitative data based on indepth interviews to consider how, when faced with collective stigmatisation, actors make deliberate and measured choices to present themselves and attempt to impression manage.