Yılmaz, Ferruh. ‘From Immigrant Worker to Muslim Immigrant: Challenges for Feminism’. (2014)

Yilmaz, Ferruh. ‘From Immigrant Worker  to Muslim Immigrant: Challenges for Feminism’. European Journal of Women’s Studies, vol. 22, no. 1, Feb. 2015, pp. 37–52.

In many Western European countries, gender equality and sexual tolerance have increasingly become markers of national cultures and European values that face an insistent threat from Muslims. Gender equality and sexual tolerance are increasingly framed in cultural terms and they play an important role in the construction of a social imaginary based on a cultural antagonism between ‘us’ (the nation) and ‘them’ (Muslims). This article argues that a new ‘culturalized’ social imaginary has been established by turning ‘immigrant workers’ into ‘Muslim immigrants’ over the last three decades. The unending moral panics around Muslim immigrants’ cultural practices such as honor killings, forced marriages, headscarves, female circumcision and homophobia create a sense of imminent threat and force progressive movements (e.g. feminists and gay movements) to forge unlikely alliances with right-wing groups against the insidious threat. These alliances are not, however, ephemeral mobilizations in defense of ‘common achievements’; the notion of common achievements creates a sense of cultural sameness vis-a-vis Muslims. Thus, what we see is the displacement of the internal frontiers and the creation of a new ‘hegemonic bloc’ around ‘common cultural values’. And this hegemonic displacement creates unresolvable tensions within feminist and queer movements.