Christiansen, C. C. ‘Contesting Visibilities: Sartorial Strategies among Muslim Women in Danish Media’. Journal of Intercultural Studies, vol. 32, no. 4, 2011, pp. 335–353.
New media technologies and migration networks create a new situation for the Muslim population in Europe. During the past decade Muslims, usually descendants of migrants, have increasingly taken part in media debates in Danish national and interactive media. They blog on the Internet, write in newspapers and partake in televised panel debates. A significant share of these media activists are women and their reflections on clothing and appearance constitute the major part of my argument in this paper. I discuss the clothing style of eight women who identify as Muslim and who have attracted attention in different forms of media; written and visual mass media or individualised interactive media. Beginning with the concept of sartorial strategies, I argue that by entering the Danish media these women challenge what it means to be equal and available for social contact in a Danish public realm. Some do so by considering how to avoid being ascribed negative stereotypes in everyday interaction and by media audiences, and others by choosing a distinct Islamic style of clothing, consequently their visibility as Muslim women is contested. In other words for some, subtle ways of communicating the new presence of active Muslim women in the media is the response, whereas others communicate this presence more distinctly. These strategies constitute a form of conscious impression management, revealing that Muslim women enter the Danish media with caution. Thus, wearing Islamic fashion is a form of micro-politics, a level of politics usually ignored in discussions of Islam in Europe.