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The Burkini as a Symbolic Threat: Anthropological Perspectives on the Ban of the Burkini on French Beaches 2016

Thylin, Julia LU (2017) SANK02 20162
Social Anthropology
Abstract
The Burkini, a swimwear that covers the entire body except but the face, hands and feet, was banned from French beaches in 2016 and created a heated debate in French and international media. This study focuses on the politics of the Burkini, where politicians’ arguments against the Burkini are divided into three major themes: (1) the Burkini as oppressive, (2) the Burkini as a threat to the social order, and (3) the Burkini as against ‘vivre-ensemble’. The study aims to discuss the French Burkini ban with the help of anthropological theories of symbolic categorization. Mary Douglas’ theory of the body as a symbol was utilized to analyze the material, together with the concept of dress. Through the symbolism of dirt and pollution ‘Muslims’... (More)
The Burkini, a swimwear that covers the entire body except but the face, hands and feet, was banned from French beaches in 2016 and created a heated debate in French and international media. This study focuses on the politics of the Burkini, where politicians’ arguments against the Burkini are divided into three major themes: (1) the Burkini as oppressive, (2) the Burkini as a threat to the social order, and (3) the Burkini as against ‘vivre-ensemble’. The study aims to discuss the French Burkini ban with the help of anthropological theories of symbolic categorization. Mary Douglas’ theory of the body as a symbol was utilized to analyze the material, together with the concept of dress. Through the symbolism of dirt and pollution ‘Muslims’ were positioned as dangerous outsiders threatening the safety of the French people and the social order in French society. The Burkini was also used as a ‘reversed mirror’ through which the moral code of the nation was promoted; where bodies should be uncovered on French beaches and women’s sexuality should be freely available. The rhetoric reveals how the Burkini was used as a political tool to create and reproduce symbolic boundaries between ‘Muslims’ and the imagined national community in France. This thesis highlights the use women’s bodies in an elitist discourse to construct a symbolism that legitimizes a continued domination and discrimination of Muslims in France. (Less)
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author
Thylin, Julia LU
supervisor
organization
course
SANK02 20162
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
Muslims, France, Symbolism, Social Anthropology, Burkini, Citizenship
language
English
id
8903229
date added to LUP
2017-02-15 11:39:27
date last changed
2017-02-15 11:39:27
@misc{8903229,
  abstract     = {The Burkini, a swimwear that covers the entire body except but the face, hands and feet, was banned from French beaches in 2016 and created a heated debate in French and international media. This study focuses on the politics of the Burkini, where politicians’ arguments against the Burkini are divided into three major themes: (1) the Burkini as oppressive, (2) the Burkini as a threat to the social order, and (3) the Burkini as against ‘vivre-ensemble’. The study aims to discuss the French Burkini ban with the help of anthropological theories of symbolic categorization. Mary Douglas’ theory of the body as a symbol was utilized to analyze the material, together with the concept of dress. Through the symbolism of dirt and pollution ‘Muslims’ were positioned as dangerous outsiders threatening the safety of the French people and the social order in French society. The Burkini was also used as a ‘reversed mirror’ through which the moral code of the nation was promoted; where bodies should be uncovered on French beaches and women’s sexuality should be freely available. The rhetoric reveals how the Burkini was used as a political tool to create and reproduce symbolic boundaries between ‘Muslims’ and the imagined national community in France. This thesis highlights the use women’s bodies in an elitist discourse to construct a symbolism that legitimizes a continued domination and discrimination of Muslims in France.},
  author       = {Thylin, Julia},
  keyword      = {Muslims,France,Symbolism,Social Anthropology,Burkini,Citizenship},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Burkini as a Symbolic Threat: Anthropological Perspectives on the Ban of the Burkini on French Beaches 2016},
  year         = {2017},
}