In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Muslim Women, Consumer Capitalism, and the Islamic Culture Industry
  • Banu Gökariksel (bio) and Ellen McLarney (bio)

This special issue of JMEWS examines the intersection of consumer capitalism, women, and the Islamic culture industry. While capitalist forms of economic development have long been part of Muslim societies in various (and often contested) forms (Gran 1979), in the last decade there has been a marked change in both the substance and the scale of the relationship between Islam and capitalism.1 Islamic movements and neoliberal consumer capitalism have arisen simultaneously in many settings, leading to newly articulated and contextually different manifestations of "Islamic capitalism" (Buğra 1998; Hefner 1998; Öniş 2000; Tuğal 2002; 2009; Kuran 2004; Adas 2006). A new market for commodities, media, advertising, businesses, and consumer segments identified as "Islamic" has helped in the creation of a new culture industry.2 While by no means uniform, this Islamic culture industry is increasingly central to the production, packaging, and dissemination of religious products: from traditional print media, cassette sermons, and online fatwas (Bunt 2009; Hirschkind 2009) to the fashionable hijab (Kılıçbay and Binark 2002; Balasescu 2003; 2007; Akou 2007; Lewis 2007; Moors 2007; Sandıkcı and Ger 2007; Schulz 2007; Tarlo 2007; Gökariksel and Secor 2009).

Islamic knowledge, performances, and selves are more and more mediated through increasingly commodified cultural forms and spaces. From memoirs, novels, lifestyle magazines, and newspapers to television channels; from religious education centers and halal markets and restaurants (where food is prepared according to Islamic rules) to holiday resorts and posh gated communities, Muslim identities are constructed [End Page 1] through commodities and consumption practices (Abu-Lughod 1995; 2005; Öncü 1995; Saktanber 1997; 2002; Bilici 1999; Göle 1999; 2002; Fealy and White 2008; Fischer 2008; Pink 2009). Muslims identify as such and connect with one another through Islamic products and spaces, forming new, transnational and transregional "Muslim networks" (cooke and Lawrence 2005). At the same time, networks forged through capitalist consumption practices create new marginalizations, leaving some unconnected.

In the newly emergent "Islamic" culture industry, a series of images, practices, knowledges, and commodities are marketed specifically to "Muslim women." Muslim women have been active participants in this industry as both consumers and producers (writers, editors, models, designers, business owners, etc.). New magazines, television programs, sports clubs, hairdressers, and clothing stores for and often by Muslim women have flourished in the last decades. Many have become entrepreneurs, establishing businesses that combine economic and religious motives. They have engaged in the creation, labeling, and advertising of the objects, narratives, representations, and performances of Muslim womanhood that combine Islamic teachings and practices with new (and old) conceptions of piety, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, motherhood, professionalism, and citizenship. Muslim women have been identified as a niche market with particular needs and desires, mostly attributed to an essentialized Muslimness. The papers in this special issue examine the images, practices, and ideals of Muslim femininity produced, circulated, and consumed in the global marketplace.

These papers collectively show that contemporary Muslim femininities are increasingly mediated through the market forces of consumer capitalism, impacting Muslim women's identities, lifestyles, and belonging in complex ways. What it means to be a Muslim woman is constantly negotiated, defined, and redefined through or in reaction to the images, narratives, and knowledges about Muslim womanhood constructed in the marketplace. As Muslim women stake out their own positions, they actively engage with given Islamic practice and knowledge as well as with modalities of capitalism. They often navigate between certain Orientalist stereotypes that marketed images sometimes challenge and sometimes reify. The continuing centrality of the veil epitomizes the simultaneous challenge to and reification of stereotypes, as it becomes [End Page 2] a marker of agency, self-expression, and empowerment. At the same time, representations of self-determined, independent, and professional Muslim women conform to images of the ideal consumer. While the veiled images reinscribe Islamic norms and identifications by emphasizing particular ways of being Muslim for women, they also transform the very content and contours of Islamic piety and femininity. The essays in this issue also reveal how Muslim women's bodies circulate in the market, turning into commodities themselves. Muslim women are not only targeted...