Irritating Questions for Scholars of Anything

21/04/2012 § Leave a comment

Yesterday, I attended a guest lecture in the communications department. The talk, given by Pushkala Prasad, entitled “Veiled Remarks: The Discourse of the Islamic Headscarf in the Scandinavian Workplace.” Prasad’s research, which took place in Denmark and Sweden in the late 90’s and early 00’s, examined the ways in which immigrants to Sweden and Denmark, especially dark-complected immigrants, were excluded from the workplace, and the headscarf, although worn by fewer than 5% of immigrant women, was consistently given as the reason why immigrant women were rejected from the workplace. The discourses surrounding this concerned immigrant women as too passive, lacking agency, unprofessional and so on. Further, the headscarf was conflated with brownness. I thought it was pretty fab. For the record, Prasad was inspired by George Marcus’ writings on Multi-sited Ethnography, which is part of why I bothered with a talk in the Comm Department (no offense, comm people)

In any event, some of the amazingly brilliant questions after the lecture were:

“Why didn’t you do this study in Norway?”

“What do you think Turkish people would think about this?”

“Well, it’s the same as Western women wearing the miniskirt in Saudi Arabia. Why didn’t you study that?”

She handled it¬†marvelously, but seriously guys, stop. It’s sort of like when people ask me why I don’t study, for example, Tibetan refugees. The answer is “Well, because.”


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