The Hijab: representation among the Muslim women in Malaysia
O'Connor, MTS; Khalid, R
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The significance of this research lies in an analysis of Malay Muslim Women dress codes in relation to a specific period of time between the 1970s and 1980s in Malaysia. This period of time has been termed an Islamic Resurgence catalyzed by Malaysia’s independence from colonial rule in the late 60s. During this period Muslim Malay women found an unprecedented political voice through the reintroduction of Islamic cultural values and practices. This research identifies specifically the role of dress in this unprecedented political female empowerment. Further, the research identifies the coincidental framework of an absence of Malay women’s experience in historical accounts of Malay’s history and the absence of post-colonial voices omitted from Malaysian thresholds of tolerance with respect to educational discourse and practice. The research asks questions as to why woman’s experience has gone unnoticed in mainstream Malaysian history. And, does this omission have any relation to the exclusion of post-colonial critiques in Islamic scholarly environments. Further, the research privileges the voice of history as that documented through oral histories as a way of accounting for the everyday experience of (women’s) existence. In doing so it provokes questions around how political ‘official’ histories of place and experience are brought about through what philosopher historian Michel Foucault would describe as (a method of) counter memory. Through methods of oral histories and an analysis a language of counter-memory manifests in this research project as another history of the marginalized or other (in this case of Malay women). Like a literature their voices make up the unorthodox histories of experience. In this respect it embraces a phenomenological political historical analysis of the ordinary Malay woman through a study of Islamic dress codes. Lastly, the research looks at the relation between commodity culture in terms of fashion and that of dress as a fundamental element to spiritual and intellectual practices. The following list of categories outlines the key areas for this research investigation: • The primary Oral History as the Qur’an and Hadith: a constant and alive mechanism in everyday Islamic life • Methodology as an Islamic practice: Phenomenological Hermeneutics; Counter-memory (archeological genealogy) Oral Histories of Islamic Malay Women’s everyday experience; and Ethical procedures as espoused in Islamic culture • Auto-ethnographic analysis with respect to my own experience as a Islamic Malay Women (of this relevant resurgent period) • Understanding Islamic Practice through a spatial and temporal analysis of everyday Women’s Islamic Dress • Political History: An untold History of Malay Woman’s experience located through the Islamic Dress • Islamic Resurgence: Malay Women’s Freedom located through Islamic Dress • Post-colonial critiques: Transparency, Image and the Open Gaze of technology • Islamic Dress and Commodity Culture (the fashion system) • Suppressed Voices: Why Postcolonial and Women experience are omitted from Malaysian Culture today?