Journal article

Muslim women in Australia, Britain and the United States: the role of “othering” and biculturalism in identity formation

21 Nov 2016

When Muslims migrate to Western countries, they bring their identity and culture with them. As they settle in their host countries, some Muslims encounter structural inequality, which is often revealed through media representation, unequal labour market status and racial profiling. Through the dynamics of structural inequality, some Muslim women remain doubly disadvantaged. Within their ethnic/religious community, Muslim women are expected to follow their cultural traditions and in the wider society their overtly Muslim appearance is often questioned. The discussion of identity formation in this paper is based on interviews with Muslim girls and women in Australia, Britain and the United States, aged between 15 and 30 years. Though the cultural and political contexts of these three countries are different, the practice of “othering” women have been similar. Through their life stories and narratives, I examine the formation of the participants’ identities. It was found that for many of these women their sense of identity shifted from single to multiple identities, thus revealing that identity formation was a flexible process that was affected by a variety of factors, including the relevance and importance of biculturalism in the women’s identity formation.

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