“Eroding the symbolic significance of veiling? The Islamic fashion magazine Âlâ, consumerism, and the challenged boundaries of the ‘Islamic neighborhood'”, authored by Feyda Sayan Cengiz (BİLGİ Department of Media) has been published in the latest issue of New Perspectives on Turkey.
Islamic fashion and lifestyle magazines enable the global circulation and consumption of newly emerging images of, narratives about, and discourses on Muslim women across the globe. Such magazines also trigger debates by making visible the language of commodification and consumerism that is increasingly shaping Muslim subjectivities. In particular, Âlâ—the pioneering Islamic fashion magazine in Turkey—has been the target of extensive criticism by Islamic intellectuals and columnists. This study contextualizes these criticisms within the broader debate on veiling fashion and Islamic consumerism in the context of 2010s Turkey, a context in which the Islamic bourgeoisie has been strengthened and class cleavages among veiled women have been further sharpened. The study analyzes the opinion columns focusing on Âlâ published in the Islamic, pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak, as well as the responses of Âlâ‘s editors and producers to such criticisms. The findings demonstrate that the magazine is criticized for making visible the surge of consumerism among the Islamic bourgeoisie, for blurring the boundaries between Islamic and secular identities, and for fragmenting an idealized imagination of Islamic collectivity by emphasizing class cleavages among veiled women. I argue that these criticisms of Âlâ in Islamic circles reflect a concern with the erosion of the symbolic connotations of veiling in Turkey, particularly in terms of marking the boundaries that define the imagination of an Islamic collectivity.