CLER seminars with Dr Mie Hiramoto

Dr Mie Hiramoto will talk about the rise of Islamic fashion and her research which looks at how Muslims self-mediatize their faith and fashion in their social networking services.

While mainstream media in the West has commonly mediatize the wearing of headscarves by Muslim women as a sign of oppression, urban hijab-wearing Muslim women have helmed a grassroots phenomenon, (re)aligning their images as modern and optimistic. The rise of Islamic fashion, also known as modest fashion, especially in places like Southeast Asia where a more liberal mode of dressing is preferred, can be attributed to the desire to resist hegemonic negative discourse on Islam.  An example is the Islamic Fashion Festival in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia’s capital city) which states its mission as countering “the myth of an outdated and ill-adapted faith”.  This vision reflects the resistance against existing views that hijab-wearing women are victim to Islamic misogyny. By adopting a methodology of multimodal discourse analysis, this study investigates data derived from popular fashion social networking services (SNS) posts of locally-recognised young Muslim women in Singapore. We study how they self-mediatize their faith and fashion in their SNSs through carefully managed semiotic representations. Positioning the headscarves as a positive and fundamental self-identity marker, the bloggers project their pious yet stylish nature with prudently edited photos accompanied by sensibly -crafted texts.  As a result, their SNSs feature common and normative topics for young women, e.g., outfit-of-the-day, food, friends and family, relationship, career, and holidays, which blend effectively with other popular (non-Muslim) fashion blogs.