Noor Cultural Centre

Shaping a Muslim Fashionista

Dec 30th 2008
Jul ’08
7:30 pm


Shaping a Muslim Fashionista: Identity Formation and Cultural Politics in the Post-9/11 World

With Zahra Rasul and Shelina Kassam

Date: Tuesday July 29, 2008

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Auditorium, Noor Cultural Centre

Admission: $5

The post-9/11 period in the West has brought a proliferation of cultural production about Muslims. This talk examines some of these sites, by looking at the ways in which both non-Muslims and Muslims alike are attempting to represent us in popular culture and fashion. Zahra Rasul will talk about gendered Orientalism in the post-9/11 world, discussing the ways in which Western feminism produces its identity in relationship to veiled women in high fashion magazines, taking Marie Claire‘s December 2006 as a case study. Shelina Kassam will examine the politics of cultural representation and identity negotiation for Muslims in the post-9/11 world. Using the case studies of Muslim Girl Magazine and the popular television show Little Mosque on the Prairie, Shelina will discuss the manner in which these cultural sites construct a particular identity for Muslims, one that imagines an ‘idealized’ Muslim. Both Zahra and Shelina will also discuss the political and social implications of these cultural productions within the context of post 9/11 North America.

Zahra Rasul is a Phd candidate in Sociology and Equity Studies at OISE/ UToronto and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto. She is the co-founder of an anti-racist feminist organization in Toronto, Making Anti-Racist Knowledges and Experiences Dominant (M.A.R.K.E.D.), which delivers workshops on feminism, anti-colonial resistance and anti-racist theory and practice to community and youth groups. Her work with Muslim communities includes sitting on the Aga Khan Education Board for Canada, where she has initiated and coordinated two major programs: the Knowledge Symposium and the national Graduate Application Assistance Program. Zahra serves as faculty in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto, where she teaches Gender and Islam (with Shelina Kassam), Critical Race Theory, and Race, Class and Gender. Her areas of specialization include: postcolonial feminism; violence in the post 9/11 world; Muslim women, the veil, embodiment, and desire; fashion and popular culture; critical race studies; and Canadian nationbuilding.

Shelina Kassam is a Phd candidate in Sociology and Equity Studies at OISE/ UToronto . She holds an M.A. from McGill University in Islamic Studies. Shelina has worked with numerous academic and educational institutions. She has worked with the UK-based Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network, where she was engaged in the development of educational materials and human resource development programs. She has also worked with the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), based in Leiden, the Netherlands. Shelina has also been involved in the social justice and global development sectors. She was the Director of Policy and Programming at the International Development Education Association (IDERA) in Vancouver, the Executive Director of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) in Toronto, and the Executive Director of the Saskatoon Open Door Society, an immigrant settlement agency. Most recently, she was the Director of an International Teacher Education Program for Muslim communities in some 15 countries. Shelina serves as faculty in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto, where she co-teaches Gender and Islam with Zahra Rasul. Shelina’s areas of academic specialization include: race, representation, media and Muslims, identity formation for Muslims in the post 9/11 world, post-colonial studies, and popular culture.

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