Mattering Moralities: Learning Corporeal Modesty through Muslim Diasporic Clothing Practices

Social Sciences. 2017;6(3):97 DOI 10.3390/socsci6030097


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Social Sciences

ISSN: 2076-0760 (Print)

Publisher: MDPI AG

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Lauren B Wagner (Technology and Society Studies, Maastricht University, Grote Gracht 90-92, 6211SZ Maastricht, The Netherlands)


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Questions of ‘coveredness’ in Islamic codes of dress, particularly as they apply to women, are often framed through the symbolic statements that they enable or disable, or through discourses on public versus private spaces. Rather than focus on these disciplining dimensions, this article explores observations about embodied practices for clothing oneself ‘modestly’, and some of the paradoxes thereof, which emerged in the context of research about diasporic mobilities of European-Moroccans in Morocco. Drawing heavily on Karen Barad and a materialist phenomenological approach to corporeality, this approach produces an understanding of how moral bodies materialize with and through clothing. By observing and following the mobilities of participants across spaces dominated by ‘Muslim’ and ‘Western’ regimes of modesty, certain dissonances of their practices in these differentiated spaces indicate ways bodies, clothing and moralities are intra-actively entangled. Proposing ethnography as a diffractive apparatus, the analysis incorporates participant reports, as well as embodied learning through ethnographic time. By approaching this ‘disciplining’ diffractively, all agents–knowledgeable bodies, malleable clothes and spatially moral gazes–are considered as intra-actively influencing each other, mattering into ‘modesty’ where ‘subjected’ bodies, as well as clothing and regimes of modesty are adapting.