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      Redefining status through burqa: Religious transformation and body politics of Indonesia's woman migrant workers

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          Abstract

          Apart from being commonly understood as a symbol of religious identity, full-face veils (burqa) are also a process through which women redefine their bodies and social status. This article investigates Indonesian women's commitment to wearing burqa after their work migration in Taiwan and Hong Kong. It focuses on the signification and the redefinition of the body through hijrah (transformation). In-depth interviews conducted with nine Indonesian women migrant workers (WMWs) revealed that this hijrah process characterised by the wearing of the burqa is not always motivated by a religiously radical mindset but more likely by practical considerations aiming to create a sense of security and comfort while working overseas. The burqa is perceived as a symbolic shift in body definition: from being a source of harm, to piety and privilege, paving the way for women to join an emerging elite community, rendering them a new noble and influential social status through socio-religious activities. This study recommends that further research on WMWs in the Middle East needs to acquire a more comprehensive picture taking into account its complexity. CONTRIBUTION: Beyond the symbolic religious identity, burqa wearing is also a form of political participation. It illustrates women's agency and transformation in redefining their bodies, public space, authority and public recognition

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                hts
                HTS Theological Studies
                Herv. teol. stud.
                University of Pretoria (Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa )
                0259-9422
                2072-8050
                2022
                : 78
                : 4
                : 1-8
                Affiliations
                [04] Yogyakarta orgnameUniversitas Islam Negeri orgdiv1Department of Graduate Studies Indonesia
                [02] Yogyakarta orgnameUniversitas Gadjah Mada orgdiv1Faculty of Cultural Sciences orgdiv2Department of Anthropology Indonesia
                [01] Yogyakarta orgnameUniversitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta orgdiv1Faculty of Ushuluddin and Islamic Thought Indonesia
                [03] Pontianak orgnameInstitut Agama Islam Negeri orgdiv1Department of Social Science Indonesia
                Article
                S0259-94222022000400023 S0259-9422(22)07800400023
                10.4102/hts.v78i4.7270
                7ccfa021-d05d-4694-a6f8-461090adf8ad

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

                History
                : 14 February 2022
                : 30 November 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 51, Pages: 8
                Product

                SciELO South Africa

                Categories
                Original Research: HTS Historical Thought and Source Interpretation

                burqa,participatory politics,social recognition,hijrah (religious transformation),the body,woman migrant workers (WMWs)

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