Our colleague Anna Piela is working on a new project, and here’s her call to papers:

I would like to announce a call for chapters for an edited collection “Muslim Women’s Digital Geographies”. The collection aims to bring together research on Muslim women’s diverse activity on the Internet that may span personal writing, debates in discussion groups, political activism, networking and other forms of interaction with other people and audiences. The collection is interdisciplinary, and welcomes perspectives from all disciplines, be they Islamic studies, media studies, social sciences, technology studies, gender studies, fashion studies, linguistics, art, politics and many others.

Scholarship on Muslim women in the recent years has extensively focused on the Islamic dress-code as the main signifier of faith. However, there are many other, under-researched aspects of Muslim women’s lives, including their use of new technologies for religious purposes. Most notably, Muslim women use the Internet as a platform for creation of gender-specific understanding of Islamic scriptures. These alternative readings question the validity of patriarchal, mainstream interpretations that have shaped lives of generations of Muslim women who have long challenged them from within academia (see Wadud, 2001; Barlas, 2006) and locally, in ‘face-to-face’  grassroots contexts such as women’s organisations and mosque study circles (see Afshar, 1998; Mahmood, 2005; Badran, 2006; Bhimji, 2009).

The Internet is increasingly seen as a facilitator of such interpretive practices that can now be conducted through collaboration of Muslim women from different geographic and cultural locations. This geographic and cultural diversity is likely to have an impact in terms of originality of the scriptural readings, as such Internet-based interpretations have the potential to be much more inclusive than previous, localised understandings of Islam. This is particularly important for grassroots women who have been largely excluded from decision-making in Islamic religious structures in spite of the rise of Islamic feminism. As a result, the Internet is perceived by some Muslim women as a platform enabling them to create and publish their interpretations of the Qur’an and the Hadith to many audiences.

The collection Muslim Women’s Digital Geographies retains a focus on intersections of the Islamic faith and technology. Exploration of different ways in which Muslim women employ new technologies, in particular the Internet, to develop and emphasise their identity and agency as Muslim women (especially in the context of stereotypical media representations of Islam in the West) will contribute to more complex and sophisticated understanding of their lives and experiences.

Please contact me if you have any queries regarding publication of a chapter in the book.

Contact details:

Dr Anna Piela

Tel. 00447772175801

Middle East Studies supports the works and the projects of all its Editorial Board members.




Our colleague Anna Piela, from University of Westminster (London), is publishing a book soon with Routledge Middle East Studies Research section. Congratulations Anna! Here is a blurb about it:

Religion and technology are still perceived as incompatible; Muslim women are imagined as uneducated and backward. Yet, thousands of them have created their own spaces on the Internet, where they discuss contemporary events and dispute religious interpretations. In an age when no other religion is vilified as much as Islam, Muslim women’s discussions on the Internet provide captivating and valuable accounts of their lives and views as female believers.

MUSLIM WOMEN ONLINE: FAITH AND IDENTITY IN THE VIRTUAL SPACE is the first book to explore the largely unknown online world of Muslim women, located in different places across the globe, mostly in the US and Europe but also in Muslim majority countries. Located within Islamic feminist discourse, the book analyses women’s views on education, culture, marriage, sexuality, work, dress-code, race, class and sisterhood. In the online context, as opposed to during offline interactions, Muslim women are much more willing to cross boundaries between traditional and progressive interpretations of Islam and engage in a dialogue with supporters of different views on women’s Islamic rights and responsibilities. Throughout the book, I highlight women’s argumentative techniques and their thorough knowledge of Islamic sources which they use to justify their points in online discussions. The book is also one of very few publications looking at both egalitarian and traditional Muslim women’s views, the latter being largely ignored by academic scholarship. Complementing these two categories, it introduces a new category of holists, who seek reconciliation between egalitarian and traditional Muslim women and introduce a middle ground, which creates a basis for Islamic sisterhood. Most importantly, it looks beyond hermeneutic differences between the women and emphasises ways in which traditionalists, egalitarians and holists attempt to engage in a common debate and understand each other’s views.


Acknowledgement of Others’ Contributions As a Peer Facilitation Skill In Online Discussions

Anna Piela with Julia Braham

The Cambridge International Conference on Open and Distance

Our experience is reflected by the experience of other authors, suggesting that the ‘continuous evolution of learning technologies requires new competencies and a further study of roles and competencies’ (Williams, 2003: 47). There is a large body of literature which provides guidelines for tutors in online education on how to make a course successful (see Salmon, 2008; Salmon, 2002, Holmes and Gardner, 2006, Hartley et al, 2005), but there is little literature available on how to be a successful estudent.
This study is a part of a research project1 which attempts to bridge this gap by focusing on students’ interpersonal skills in virtual learning environments (VLEs). It has provided guidelines which have been used to produce resources aimed at increasing students’ and tutors’ awareness of interpersonal skills in an online setting. Continue reading