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Islamic-ness in the life of a commodity: veiling-fashion in Turkey

Banu Gökariksel and Anna Secor
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
New Series, Vol. 35, No. 3 (July 2010), pp. 313-333
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40890990
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Islamic-ness in the life of a commodity: veiling-fashion in Turkey
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Abstract

What makes a commodity 'Islamic'? By focusing on the question of 'Islamic-ness' as it traverses both material and symbolic production, this paper aims to contribute to recent research in geography on the lives of commodities. Our study demonstrates the instability of Islamic-ness in the veiling-fashion industry in Turkey and draws out the implications of this finding for our understanding of the socio-spatial work of the commodity. The veiling-fashion (or tesettür) sector has become a conspicuous part of the Turkish apparel industry in the past 30 years. Firms producing veiling-fashion engage in the design, production, marketing and sale of distinctive commodities stylised to signify Islamic-ness. We begin by situating veiling-fashion within the broader contours of the Turkish apparel industry, economic restructuring and the rise of an Islamic habitus in Turkey. Based on our 2008 survey of 174 veiling-fashion firms in Turkey and our case studies of three such firms, we seek to understand how and to what extent the commodity is inscribed as an Islamic commodity in the course of its life, from financing to marketing. We use survey data to explore the role of Islamic banking practices, Islamic trading practices and Islamic workplace ethics in the itinerary of veiling-fashion. Drawing on our case studies of three veiling-fashion firms (Tekbir, Boutique Dayi and Armine), we show how these companies represent their ambivalent relationships to Islamic-ness, both as a set of values and as a particular milieu in Turkey. Through this analysis, we find that the Islamic-ness of the commodity cannot in fact be located or fixed; it is instead best understood as a mode of insertion into socio-spatial networks. Veiling-fashion as a commodity thus enters into and becomes constitutive of the wider material and symbolic networks that enact Islamic-ness in Turkey today.

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