Navigating the Binary between Speech and Silence: Muslim Women in Post-9/11 Australia
Free Public Lecture
Kathleen Fitzpatrick Theatre
T: 8344 5944
The Wednesday Lectures 2018 hosted by Raimond Gaita
Like members of other racialised communities, Muslim women in contemporary Australia find themselves locked in a double-bind between patriarchy and racism. This has forced them to navigate between competing pressures towards both speech and silence. Muslim women are always aware that when they speak out against patriarchal leaders and norms within their own religious community, their voices will be seized upon by those who hold Muslims collectively responsible for any shortcomings displayed by any Muslim, anywhere. When they speak out against anti-Muslim racism, on the other hand, their voices are welcomed by male Muslim leaders who use this evidence of external hostility as a means of legitimising their own power-base.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the call went out for Muslim women to be allowed to speak for themselves, rather than being left on the sidelines while others (whether Muslim spokesmen, western feminists or conservative politicians like John Howard who suddenly discovered their inner feminist when it came to the topic of gender norms in Muslim communities) spoke out on their behalf. Seventeen years later, there is no shortage of prominent female Muslim voices in Australian public life, but the pressure towards both speech and silence has only become more intense. Muslim women no longer have to assert the right to speak at all, but instead find themselves addressing the issue of which women should be provided with a platform, which audiences should they seek to address, how to frame their concerns in such a way as to minimise their inevitable appropriation by other misogynists within their own communities or racists from outside them, and how best to survive the now regular hate-fest that ensures when Muslim women step outside the mandated boundaries.
The Wednesday Lectures is an annual series of talks hosted by Professor Raimond Gaita that invites speakers from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds to offer their perspective on a subject of pressing public, and sometimes intensely personal, concern.
Professor Raimond Gaita, The University of Melbourne
Professor Raimond Gaita
The University of Melbourne
Raimond Gaita is Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and the Melbourne Law School at the University of Melbourne, and Professor Emeritus of Moral Philosophy at King's College London In 2009 the University of Antwerp awarded Gaita the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa “for his exceptional contribution to contemporary moral philosophy and for his singular contribution the role of the intellectual in today’s academic world”. Gaita's books, translated into many languages, include: Good and Evil: An Absolute Conception, the prize wining Romulus, My Father, which was made into a feature film of the same name, A Common Humanity: Thinking About Love & Truth & Justice, which the Economist judged to be one of the best books of 2000, The Philosopher's Dog, Breach of Trust: Truth, Morality and Politics, After Romulus and, as editor and contributor, Gaza: Morality Law and Politics and Muslims and Multiculturalism.
Shakira Hussein is a writer and researcher based at the University of Melbourne and the author of *From Victims to Suspects: Muslim women since 9/11*. Her essays have been published in *Meanjin, The Griffith Review* and *The Best Australian Essays*. She is a regular contributor to media outlets including *Crikey, The Australian* and *ABC Online*.