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Muslim American CityGender and Religion in Metro Detroit$
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Alisa Perkins

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479828012

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479828012.001.0001

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Gender, Space, and Muslim American Women

Gender, Space, and Muslim American Women

(p.62) 2 Gender, Space, and Muslim American Women
Muslim American City

Alisa Perkins

NYU Press

This chapter analyzes how Yemeni and Bangladeshi American women and teenage girls in Hamtramck establish a particular type of gender organization—what I call “civic purdah”—across a variety of different contexts. Although there is no exact word for it in Arabic, Bangladeshis and other South Asians use the word “purdah” to signify gender separation, most often in expressed through patterns of dress (hijāb) and proximity, enacted in an effort to protect the sanctity of women’s bodies and spaces from the gaze and interference of unrelated men. Civic purdah signifies the way that women interpret and apply the purdah ethos in the municipal context as a means of participating in different aspects of city life. When enacted in public spaces and institutions, civic purdah can be considered a means for advancing cultural citizenship, defined as engaging in the dominant society while maintaining differences from the norm.

Keywords:   Yemeni American women, Bangladeshi American women, dress, hijāb, gender, purdah, cultural citizenship

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