Embodying nationhood? Conceptions of British national identity, citizenship, and gender in the 'veil affair'

Meer, Nasar and Dwyer, Claire and Modood, Tariq (2010) Embodying nationhood? Conceptions of British national identity, citizenship, and gender in the 'veil affair'. The Sociological Review, 58 (1). pp. 84-111. ISSN 0038-0261

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Abstract

This article reports on a study of mediatised public discourses on nationhood, citizenship, and gender in Britain, and analyses the ways in which these accounts may be utilised in the cultivation of particular kinds of social identities. We distinguish our approach at the outset from other lines of inquiry to report on a macro level exploration of an event in which these value discourses were operative, namely the national the press reaction to the former Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's 2006 comments on the Muslim face-veil or niqab. The article traces and analyses the interactions and intersections of completing but overlapping accounts of nationhood, citizenship, and characterisations of the role of Muslim women. It identifies interdependent clusters of responses that illustrate the ways in which the niqab is a 'contested signifier' in contemporary social and political life, and the ways in which nationhood, citizenship, and gender feature prominently in its signification.