Wearing Hijab in Sarajevo

Dress Practices and the Islamic Revival in Post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina

in Anthropological Journal of European Cultures
Restricted access

This essay observes contemporary Islamic dress practices in Bosnia-Herzegovina as a catalyst throwing into relief various tensions within Bosnian society – not only between Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, but among Bosniaks themselves. Based on fieldwork carried out in Sarajevo, it looks at how people employ notions of culture and tradition when justifying what types of Islamic dress, if any, are compatible with Bosnian modernity. The essay analyses how people selectively draw on fragments from the historical and ethnographic record when they argue for or against veiling, and shows how, even though many denounce veiling and particularly face veiling as foreign to Bosnia, women who veil themselves equally draw on notions of culture and tradition when justifying their dress choices to others. The essay highlights how competing visions of Islam play a role in the transformation of religious, ethnic and gender identities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and argues that dress as a gendered bodily practice does not merely mark assumed essential differences between an imagined Bosnian and foreign Islam but serves as a crucial means of their construction.

Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

(formerly: Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures)