El-Tayeb, Fatima “Secular Submissions—Muslim Europeans, Female Bodies, and Performative Politics”

El-Tayeb, Fatima “Chapter 3: Secular Submissions—Muslim Europeans, Female Bodies, and Performative Politics” in El-Tayeb, Fatima. European Others: Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe. 1 edition, Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2011.

From introduction:

In chapter 3, I trace this discourse from its affirmation in both liberal feminism, exemplified by Dutch playwright Adelheid Roosen’s work, and in the escape narratives of ex-Muslims such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to its deconstruction by Muslim feminist activists like Danish Asmaa Abdol-Hamid. My focus throughout is on the uses of performative strate- gies in constructing as well as destabilizing binary notions of movement and immobility, progress and stagnation in relation to West and Global South, Orient and Occident, Islam and (secular) Christianity, Muslim men and women. That is, I am following Diana Taylor in using performance as a “methodological lens that enables [me] to analyze events as perfor- mances” (Taylor 2003, 3). Common to these very different types of per- formative politics is the centrality of the image of the (veiled) Muslim woman, signifying much larger assumptions around cultural (im)mobili- ties and (im)possibilities. My notion of performance in this context be- gins with Frantz Fanon’s assessment of nationalism as a scopic politics often symbolized by the clothing of female bodies. I move from tradi- tional forms of performance illustrating this view, such as Roosen’s plays, to the performative interventions of political activists like Hirsi Ali, both of which retain a hierarchy in which the authors “speak for” Muslimas, literally inscribing their perspective on generic, deindividualized female bodies. I end with feminist socialist Abdol-Hamid, who takes a radically different approach by using her own body to insist on the compatibility of supposedly exclusive positionalities, such as wearing the hijab and be- ing a radical feminist, and most importantly on the right and ability of European Muslimas to speak for themselves.

Publisher’s book description:

European Others offers an interrogation into the position of racialized communities in the European Union, arguing that the tension between a growing nonwhite, non-Christian population and insistent essentialist definitions of Europeanness produces new forms of identity and activism. Moving beyond disciplinary and national limits, Fatima El-Tayeb explores structures of resistance, tracing a Europeanization from below in which migrant and minority communities challenge the ideology of racelessness that places them firmly outside the community of citizens.Using a notable variety of sources, from drag performances to feminist Muslim activism and Euro hip-hop, El-Tayeb draws on the largely ignored archive of vernacular culture central to resistance by minority youths to the exclusionary nationalism that casts them as threatening outcasts. At the same time, she reveals the continued effect of Europe’s suppressed colonial history on the representation of Muslim minorities as the illiberal Other of progressive Europe. Presenting a sharp analysis of the challenges facing a united Europe seen by many as a model for twenty-first-century postnational societies, El-Tayeb combines theoretical influences from both sides of the Atlantic to lay bare how Europeans of color are integral to the continent’s past, present, and, inevitably, its future.