Wearing the Niqab: Muslim Women in the UK and the US (Bloomsbury Academic, 2021)
From the publisher's site:
The niqab has recently emerged as one of the most ubiquitous symbols of everything that is perceived to be wrong with Islam: barbarity, backwardness, exploitation of women, and political radicalization. Yet all these notions are assigned to women who wear the niqab without their consultation; “niqab debates” are held without their voices being heard, and, when they do speak, their views are dismissed.
However, the picture painted by the stories told here demonstrates that, for these women, religious symbols such as the niqab are deeply personal, freely chosen, multilayered, and socially situated. Wearing the Niqab gives voice to these women and their stories, and sets the record straight, enhancing understanding of the complex picture around niqab and religious identity and agency.
My other publications about the niqab
Wearing the Niqab is not just the book; it's a wider research project that explores the perspectives of women who choose to wear the Niqab. My articles about niqab wearing have been published in the Journal of American Academy of Religions, New Media and Society, Hawwa: Journal of Women in the Middle East and the Islamic World and Feminist Media Studies. My chapters that discuss the niqab are also included in two edited collections published this year: Cyber Muslims and Digital Religion 2.0.
Please contact me for copies of these publications if you do not have access to the publishers' databases, and check out my ResearchGate account where the pre-pub article versions are available.
MY OTHER PROJECTS
This project focuses on the question of Whiteness/race, which was not addressed in the larger project. Dr. Joanna Krotofil (Jagiellonian University) and I trace how Polish White Female Converts strategically deploy their Whiteness in different multiracial and transnational settings. This project is funded by the 2022 American Academy of Religion Collaborative International Research Grant. We have had an article accepted by Sociology of Religion.
(with Dr. Joanna Krotofil (Jagiellonian University)) We investigate the consequences of the lockdown for pluralist Muslim women.
Our talk at George Mason University:
Read our 2021 article in Religions.
Our research recruitment poster is here.
A collaborative investigation into identities of Polish women converts who live in Poland or the UK. We are writing a book together. As of 2022, we had two articles accepted: one by Sociology of Religion and one the Journal of Contemporary Religions.
QUALITATIVE & QUANTITATIVE
RELIGIOUS & GENDER STUDIES SOCIOLOGY
PROPOSALS & APPLICATIONS
ACADEMIC & NON-ACADEMIC
CONFERENCES & INTERVIEWS
EDUCATION, MEDIA AND BUSINESS
IN THE MEDIA
Interviews, contributions, and mentions
Atmos, April 18, 2022
"Perhaps scholar Anna Piela describes it best when she writes that covering rankles and insults Westerners who see the women who wear them as 'stubborn refuseniks of the opportunities that the West evidently affords women.'” more
Muslim Girl, April 8, 2022
"Anna Piela, the author of Wearing the Niqab, says: 'What is striking here is that this dichotomy is used by both detractors of the niqab, who reduce it to Arab ethnic dress without significance for Islamic practice, and its advocates who, on the basis of various Hadith, identify it as one of the outfit styles worn during the lifetime of the Prophet (and therefore rooted in Islamic history), preferable over ‘ethnic’ dress which may be insufficiently modest.'” more
The New York Times, January 13, 2022
"England Unwrapped: It's all in the eyes" - BBC Local Radio, Dec 22, 2020
I was invited by the program's author, Ruchi Tandon, to share some findings from my research on how women who wear the niqab are dealing with the pandemic, social distancing, and widespread mask-wearing.
Interview for the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project, July 28, 2020
The Guardian, July 18, 2020
"Dr Anna Piela, an academic and author of Wearing The Niqab (out next January), has reinterviewed some of her contributors since the start of the pandemic. Many told her they have found greater acceptance now that more people are covering up, she says. Loubna (a pseudonym) from Birmingham, says: “I went to a park the other day, and it felt completely different. (...)” more
An interview on the Drive Time Show on Voice of Islam Radio
Talking about the niqab in the context of the UK's new requirement to wear masks in public spaces
The New York Times, June 10, 2020
"Anna Piela, a visiting scholar in religious studies and gender at Northwestern University, has noted that Muslim women she interviewed said they find it easier to wear masks because it has softened the stigma of face coverings. 'Suddenly these women - who are often received in the West with open hostility for covering their faces - look a lot more like everyone else,' she wrote in an article in May (...)" more
TRT World, April 13, 2020
"As Northwestern University scholar Anna Piela points out in an article for the Conversation, Muslim women are finding themselves looking a lot like everyone else.
'Now, in an unexpected turn of events, people across the West are jogging in face masks and grocery shopping in bandanas tied across their mouths. That’s making public life in the niqab much more pleasant, say Muslim women.' Piela wrote."
My article on a #VogueChallenge cover made by @StockholmJilbabista
The best endorsement a is to be organically cited. Other examples include my work in syllabi of cool courses like
Veiling in the Muslim World (University of Texas);
Women in Scriptures (University of Texas);
Gender and Communication (Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism);
Intro to Gender Studies 125 (Manchester Metropolitan University, IN);
ART4001 Critical Debates: Photography (Middlesex University, UK)
Students leave my courses having mastered the skills to engage with critical concepts in the context of their personal experience. Demonstrating a great deal of scientific curiosity, they often develop remarkable answers to well-posed questions about social reality.
Using research to problem-solve
Connecting theoretical problems to life outside the classroom is one of the most important aspects of my teaching. It underscores students’ potential for social change in a wide range of contexts.
Critiquing power hierarchies
I place accounts of power at the center of my work. I aim to expose bias in academic disciplines and show how it may be overcome. I encourage students to become familiar with diverse perspectives beyond the usual canon.
I encourage students to question normative narratives in politics, media and their own social environments. In order to facilitate this, I help them develop vocabulary to discuss inequality in such ways as to remain respectful and appreciative of diversity. By independently building on the knowledge acquired in the classroom, they emerge as socially conscious, fair, and empathetic citizens.