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Hijab Micropractices: The Strategic and Situational Use of Clothing by Qatari Women

Sociological Forum

Published online on


--- - |2 The hijab, the headscarf and cloak worn by some Muslim women, is often viewed through a lens of constraint, but in this article I emphasize its flexible use by women in Qatar, a wealthy, conservative Arabian Gulf nation. As part of a neoliberal agenda, the Qatari government frequently depicts female citizens using an “empowered woman” narrative that touts increased college enrollment, workforce participation, and sports involvement as evidence of a progressive gender milieu. Yet Qatar continues to be steeped in patriarchy and institutional gender discrimination. This domination finds its most visible expression in the scrutiny and regulation of women's clothing. In this article, I describe how Qatari women strategically modify, adjust, reimagine, and remove their hijabs to suit changing circumstances. These hijab micropractices—women's strategic and situational use of traditional Muslim clothing—are at times so infinitesimal they are easy to overlook. Yet they are significant because they enable Qatari women to exercise agency within the confines of clothing that is believed to signify Islamic patriarchy and female oppression. I argue that hijab micropractices are a means by which Qatari women resist these conditions, while maintaining a religious identity and commitment to family. - 'Sociological Forum, EarlyView. '