Immigration and Minority Women: presentation outline

Research questions:

What political, social and economic obstacles do minority women face in the process of immigration and integration in contemporary Western Europe?

Is gender a differentiating factor in minority women’s experience of immigration and integration?

Presentation outline:

  1. Intro
  2. Primary agent of exclusion: the economic market
  3. Constructed conceptions of womanhood: inclusion or assimilation?
  4. Political treatment of minority women: differentiated path to citizenship
  5. Conclusion

1. Intro

  • Immigration, Asylum seeking: how general analyses of immigration / asylum seeking do not take into account the gendered differentiations. How policies based on such analysis turn out to damage women.
  • The unjustified generalisations of migrant women
  • Discrimination of minority women: multi-layered identities make them more vulnerable to discrimination, violence and violation of their rights.
  • Defining key terms: conception of immigrant v. refugee, integration, assimilation.


2. Primary agent of exclusion: the economic market

  • Complexity of the diversity of experiences in terms of economic well-being according to gender, ethnicity and intra-ethnicity identity.
  • Experience of specific minority migrants (and their descendents): Quantitative (hard statistical data) / Qualitative research (personal experience and perception)
  • Neoliberalism: free market model turns out to be exclusive and harmful towards minorities.
  • Institutionalised racism.


3. Constructed conceptions of womanhood: inclusion or assimilation?

  • Integration of Immigrants: Personal – Family – State 
  • Immigrants are perceived as a homogenous group, with no differentiation between men and women in the process of immigration/integration
  • The fear of integrating: the image of women is linked to an idealised notion of home, thus connected with the fundamental structures of society.
  • The image of women is forced into dichotomies: ‘minority women becoming visible and audible only as domestic violence victims or rendered invisible if they do not conform to this identity.’


4. Political treatment of minority women: differentiated path to citizenship

  • Immigration and social integration are gendered issues. (Kofman 1999, Sinke 2006)
  • Political effects of austerity: Ghettoization: isolation within communities, which intensify minority women’s exposure to patriarchal oppression (gang rape, crime, forced marriage etc.)
  • Securitisation of immigration: migrant women are put under explicit scrutiny.
  • Secular policies disproportionately impact minority religious women: 2004 ban on the headscarf, 2010 ban of the burqa.
  • Explicit discrimination again an infinitely marginal part of the national population: at the time of the law, roughly 1900 women wore the burqa in France, thereby representing no more than 0.04% of the French Muslim population, and less than 0.003% of the french population.

Restrictive access to citizenship rights

  • Sexual democracy: refers to the way in which democracy seeks to accommodate and appropriate sexuality. In this model, sexuality is seen as a vital aspect of democracy, citizenship, etc. Discrimination occurs at the ‘private’ level, pervading areas such as sexuality, body image, one’s choice of partner, children’s rights, etc.
  • Strong emphasis on Muslim women’s relation to their bodies and the way they dress. Muslim women’s dress-code is constructed as a threat to public order, and associated with oppression, terrorism and extreme religious belief: securitisation theory.
  • PM Manuel Valls ‘The headscarf, which prevents women from being who they are, remains for me, and must remain for the Republic an essential fight.’ (Europe 1, Feb. 2013)



One thought on “Immigration and Minority Women: presentation outline

  1. This is great – as a group you’ve worked hard to try and tackle this complex and wide-ranging topic, and I’m glad to see you’ve reached a structure for the presentation. The conclusion will be key in bringing together these issues into a coherent and assertive statement.

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