Have Faith: Rethinking the ‘Woman Question’ in the ‘Arab Spring’
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In this thesis I consider how secularism influences the construction and use of Muslim women and agency (or lack of agency) that is produced in the discourse on the ‘Arab Spring’. I will then discuss whether this can be re-thought in a more productive and positive way through use of post-secular theory. The question of women and agency in the ‘Arab Spring’ is quite complex, but a central concept to me seems to be secularism. Consequently, I will start this thesis by historicizing and deconstructing the related concepts of secularism and democracy, to show how the narrative on these issues operates on a very specific preconception of Muslim women. In the following chapter, I will attempt to deconstruct and problematize the various ways in which Muslim women are viewed as having or lacking agency in the discourse on the ‘Arab Spring.’ By doing this, I will show how ‘the Woman question’ in the ‘Arab Spring,’ that is, whether they have agency or not, is the problematic concept on which many narratives operate. In my last chapter, I will suggest an alternative way of thinking about ‘the Woman question’ in the ‘Arab Spring’ through use of post-secular theory, in order to complicate the relation between politics, religion, women and agency. Many of the politics of intervention by the U.S. and Europe are based on the problematic preconception of Muslim women that I am attempting to deconstruct. I wish to criticize these politics of intervention. Moreover, I hope to contribute to new ways of thinking about the ‘Arab Spring,’ that are not based on problematic Orientalist narratives and assumptions that underlie some of the arguments about these topics.