Headscarves: A Comparison of Public Thought and Public Policy in Germany and the Netherlands.

This article takes a comparative approach to analyzing the structuring of the concept of citizen ship in two countries ( Germany and the Netherlands) and how this relates to their treatment of the Muslim hijab. The primary investigation deals with the hijab, or headscarf as less of an ideologically charged issue and more as an example on which each country’s socio-historical creation of the concept of citizenship is able to manifest itself politically. In addition, because the governments that she examines do not treat the headscarf officially as a gendered subject, she eliminates almost all talk of the hijab as a point of convergence of religion, gender, and governmentality.

The Netherlands is described as having a more civic construction of citizenship that allows for easier access to naturalization, whilst Germany is posited as having an ethno-cultural conception of citizenship leading to the exclusion of those who seem not “German” enough, and this informs how these governments officially deal with the wearing of the headscarf in the public sphere. This is a very interesting comparison, and one that can lead to fruitful insights into current political policy in each country and in Europe as a whole. However this article does not delve far enough into the hijab as an intensely charged ideological symbol. Though the author does mention the importance of the headscarf as a symbol of Islam and “otherness” she does not investigate the headscarf as a positive vehicle of nationalism set up against the sovereignty of the state. The hijab is most often viewed as a threat from ‘without’ coming into contact with ‘us’. It would have been interesting to see more of a discussion along those lines; but as a preliminary article on the topic it does serve to raise interesting questions and serves well as an introduction to a very complex and contentious issue.

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