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Shaping the Boundaries of National Belonging: Muslim Women in Switzerland across German-speaking Media Platforms

Applicant Aeschbach Mirjam
Number 181937
Funding scheme Doc.CH
Research institution Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar Theologische Fakultät Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Religious studies, Theology
Start/End 01.09.2018 - 31.07.2021
Approved amount 206'360.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Religious studies, Theology
Communication sciences

Keywords (6)

Nation; Religion; Islam; Media; Digital; Gender

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
In derzeitigen Schweizer Mediendiskursen werden Muslim*innen in der Schweiz wiederholt als ‘fremd’ dargestellt und problematisiert. Dabei wird häufig zwischen ‘akzeptablen’ und ‘problematischen’ muslimischen Positionalitäten unterschieden. In diesem Kontext stehen muslimische Frauen nicht nur als Diskursobjekte im Zentrum sondern nehmen auch aktiv an medialen Debatten teil.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

In einem Kontext, in welchem Muslim*innen als in der Schweiz ‘fremd’ problematisiert werden, lieferte die Analyse der aktiven Beitrage muslimischer Diskursakteurinnen Einblicke in konkrete Reaktionen zu Bildern nationaler Zugehörigkeit und beleuchteten, wie diese aufgegriffen, angeeignet und potentiell in Frage gestellt werden. Hierfür wurden die in der Deutsch-Schweizer Medienöffentlichkeit aktiven, muslimischen Diskursakteurinnen identifiziert und ihre Beiträge über digitale und nicht-digitale Medienplattformen hinweg verfolgt. Die anschließende Dokumentenanalyse untersuchte die Positionierungen dieser Frauen, die ihnen zugeschriebene Legitimität und die von ihnen geäusserten Diskurslinien bezüglich nationaler Zugehörigkeit.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Vor dem Hintergrund historisch variierender Darstellungen von ‘Fremdheit’ in der Schweiz können die analysierten Debatten rund um Muslim*innen als historisch spezifischer Identitätsdiskurs verstanden werden. Die medienübergreifende Herangehensweise dieses Projektes erlaubt es zudem, der zunehmenden Digitalisierung gerecht zu werden. Einblicke in online Narrative bieten dabei das Potential, durch die Identifikation von Alternativen zu bekannten Darstellungen neue Erkenntnisse zu gewinnen, potentielle Ausschlüsse zu erkennen und einen gesamtgesellschaftlichen Dialog zu erleichtern.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 05.08.2021

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Politisierung von Kultur, Religion, und Geschlecht: Die Kulturalisierungen eines verweigerten Handschlags in Deutschschweizer Medien
Aeschbach Mirjam (2021), Politisierung von Kultur, Religion, und Geschlecht: Die Kulturalisierungen eines verweigerten Handschlags in Deutschschweizer Medien, in Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft, 29(1), 60-82.
Invoking the Secular: Gendered Delineations of Muslim Belonging in Switzerland
Aeschbach Mirjam (2020), Invoking the Secular: Gendered Delineations of Muslim Belonging in Switzerland, in Entangled Religions , 11(1), 1-23.
Representations of Muslim Women in German Popular Culture, 1990–2015 by Lauren Selfe
Aeschbach Mirjam (2020), Representations of Muslim Women in German Popular Culture, 1990–2015 by Lauren Selfe, in German Studies Review, 43(2), 441-443.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Inter-University Gender Studies Doctoral Program/ Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, UZH/ Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Department of Religious Studies/UZH Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Colorado, Boulder United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Ge)Schlechte(r) Religionswissenschaft!? Multidisziplinare Ansatze einer kritischen Genderforschung zu Religion Talk given at a conference ’Die Muslimin’ in der Deutschschweiz: Gender, Religion und nationale Zugehörigkeit in medialen Islamdiskursen 01.03.2021 online, Germany Aeschbach Mirjam;
Säkular, muslimisch oder säkular-muslimisch: Die Konstitution mehrheitsfähiger Positionierungen in deutsch-schweizerischen Mediendiskursen Talk given at a conference Mediale Verhandlungen religiöser Mehr- und Minderheitenpositionen im öffentlichen Diskurs 17.02.2021 online, Germany Aeschbach Mirjam;
Magical Britain Individual talk Neue Medien, Islam und nationale Identität in Grossbritannien 23.07.2020 Philipps Universität Marburg (online), Germany Aeschbach Mirjam;
NWSA Annual Conference Protest, Justice, and Transnational Organizing Poster “Secular Muslims” in the German-Speaking World: Gendered Connotations of a Strategic Counter-Positionality 14.11.2019 San Francisco, CA, United States of America Aeschbach Mirjam;
Women in German Conference Poster Muslim Women in Swiss-German Media Discourse: Visible Representations of Intersectional Social Identities 17.10.2019 Sewannee, TN, United States of America Aeschbach Mirjam;
German Studies Association 43rd Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Between “Swissness” and “Muslimness”: Racialized Differences in Swiss-German Media Debates surrounding Muslim Women 03.10.2019 Portland, OR, United States of America Aeschbach Mirjam;
EASR Religion – Continuations and Disruptions Talk given at a conference Meaning as Multi-modal and Hyperlinked: A Qualitative Frame Analysis Approach to Muslim Women on Social Media 25.06.2019 Tartu, Estonia Aeschbach Mirjam;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Komplexitat abbilden – Medien, Wissenschaft und die Darstellung von Islam & Nahem Osten Workshop 14.02.2019 Zürich, Switzerland Aeschbach Mirjam;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions "Filter bubbles" und "counter publics": Religion und Politik in sozialen Medien German-speaking Switzerland 2020

Abstract

The research focused on nationalizing identity processes in contemporary, Swiss-German media discourse on Muslims in Switzerland with an actor-specific focus on Muslim women. A qualitative media analysis of how national belonging is formed around and shaped by Muslim women in the German-speaking part of Switzerland across digital and non-digital media platforms was conducted. In the analyzed mass media publications, Muslims were repeatedly portrayed as ‘foreign’ in Switzerland and questions about the extent to which Islam is socially acceptable were discussed. Such issues have figured prominently in media outputs such as the NZZ Folio “Muslims in Switzerland: How much Islam can the country tolerate?” (2016). Muslim women actively take part in these debates on the relationship between Islam and Switzerland and negotiate their own positionalities and the way they are entangled with notions of national belonging. With issues of gender equality figuring prominently as normative demarcation strategies and Muslim women frequently marking images of “self” and “other” in public debates, analysing the contributions of Muslim women shed light on how such representations are taken up, re-appropriated, and potentially challenged.The analysis showed that Muslims were portrayed as 'foreign' along two key categories; geographic and historic difference. The most prominent narratives of progress drawn on to problematize Muslims as historically different were secularization, individualization and gender equality. In order for Muslim actors to be able to appear legitimately in media discourse, such problematizing portrayals of difference have to be relativized. Hence, the pluralization of Muslim positionalities, resulting in (self-)positionings such as ‘secular Muslim’, ‘liberal Muslim’ or ‘progressive Muslim’, can be seen as a specific effect of media discourse. Another effect identified in this research is that certain portrayals of difference are further hegemonialized in mass media discourse in two ways; First, Muslim women marked as ‘liberal’, ‘secular’, ‘progressive’ or similarly are more likely to be portrayed as legitimate discourse actors and be evaluated benevolently. Second, the analysis of online media highlights that certain narratives of belonging and sameness that contradict portrayals of difference and suggestions of ‘incompatability’ between Muslims and Switzerland are excluded or marginalized in the mass media discourse.
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