• collage of eight book covers to which Anna Piela contributed or wrote in full

    ABOUT

    I am a scholar of gender, Islam and new media affiliated with the Department of Religion at Northwestern University. My second book, Wearing the Niqab: Muslim Women in the UK and the US came out in February 2021. I have a PhD in Women's Studies (York, U.K.)
     

  • 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

    a picture of woman wearing a hijab looking at the camera

    (2022-) Whiteness and conversion to Islam in Poland

     Dr. Joanna Krotofil (Jagiellonian University) and I trace how Polish White Female Converts strategically perform 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 published our first article in Sociology of Religion.

    Picture of a green door with a padlock on

    (2020-) Muslim Women's Religious Practice during the COVID-19 Pandemic

    (with Dr. Joanna Krotofil (Jagiellonian University)) We investigate the consequences of the lockdown for pluralist Muslim women.

    Our talk at George Mason University:

    At #AAR21 we presented two papers from this project: (1) & (2)

    Read our 2021 article in Religions.

    Our research recruitment poster is here.

     

    picture with the title and logo of the project - a red crescent

    (2017-21) Managing Spoiled Identity: Social Functioning of Polish Female Converts to Islam

     

    A collaborative investigation into identities of Polish women converts who live in Poland or the UK. We have published articles in  Sociology of Religion and the Journal of Contemporary Religions. The book is coming out in December 2022.

    a picture of a group of men holding a banner at a demonstration with torches

    (2018-20) Islamophobia in Poland

     

    This involved my contributions to the annual Islamophobia in Europe Report in 2017, 2018, and 2019, as well as my chapter about representations of Islam in Polish media published in the Handbook of Religions and Journalism (2020).

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    (2005-9) Muslim Women Online

     

    This project comprises a book, Muslim Women in Virtual Space (Routledge, 2014); journal articles in The Muslim World, Contemporary Islam, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, and Online: Heidelberg Journal of Religions; and a book chapter in the anthology Media, Gender and Religion (2013).

  • MY ESSAYS

    Public scholarship

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    Conversion Isn't a Ticket Out of White Supremacy (Religion and Politics)

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    What Poland’s Anti-Abortion Laws Foretell about the United States (The Revealer)

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    Burka Enforcement and Burka Bans: Where Extremist Policies Meet (Religion and Politics)

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    Mosques of their Own (JStor Daily)

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    Muslim Women and the Politics of the Headscarf (JStor Daily)

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    What Does the Russian Invasion Mean for Religious Minorities in Ukraine?(Religion and Politics)

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    Fetishization of impartiality and the gospel (The Christian Citizen)

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    Swiss Burka Ban Is Not About Protecting Women Or Security (Modestish.com)

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    One Year On, Muslim women Reflect on Wearing the Niqab in a Mask-Wearing World (The Conversation US)

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    What Face Coverings Mean for Some Minorities (Psychology Today)

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    Some Pitfalls of Public Engagement (Women in Higher Education)

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    2020: The Niqab Revisited (The Maydan)

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    “I Wear A Two-Layer Niqab When I Want To Look Really Marvelous”: How Fashion Influences Face Veils (Modestish.com)

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    Muslim Women Who Cover Their Faces Find Greater Acceptance Among Coronavirus Masks (The Conversation US)

    A picture of a Muslim woman in a purple abaya taking a selfie

    Muslim Women Observe Ramadan Under Lockdown – and Some Say Being Stuck at Home for the Holiday is Nothing New (The Conversation US)

    A photo of a woman in a single layer niqab on a busy street

    Wearing the Niqab in the UK: What is British Culture, Anyway? (London School of Economics Religion and Global Society Blog)

    A woman in a black niqab is sitting in a park with a young child and playing

    The Niqab Wearers Bracing Themselves for Abuse: “It’s Open Season on the Muslims Now” (The New Statesman)

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    Sexual Misconduct in Academia: Reassessing the Past (Times Higher Education)

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    The Study of Islam in the US: Now What? (Times Higher Education)

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    The Study of Islam in the US: Now What? (Times Higher Education)

  • SKILLS

    RESEARCH

    QUALITATIVE & QUANTITATIVE

    PROJECT MANAGEMENT

    MANAGING RESEARCH

    TEACHING

    RELIGIOUS & GENDER STUDIES SOCIOLOGY

    GRANT WRITING

    PROPOSALS & APPLICATIONS

    TRANSLATION

    ENGLISH-POLISH-ENGLISH

    WRITING

    ACADEMIC & NON-ACADEMIC

    PUBLIC SPEAKING

    CONFERENCES & INTERVIEWS

    CONSULTING

    EDUCATION, MEDIA AND BUSINESS

  • IN THE MEDIA

    Interviews, contributions, and mentions

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    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

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    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

     

    A homemade magazine cover featuring a woman in a black niqab and pink makeup.

    The New York Times, January 13, 2022

    “White people are considered unthreatening in the U.S. and Western Europe, and so they are given much more freedom to wear whatever they wish,” said Anna Piela, author of “Wearing the Niqab” and a visiting scholar at the department of religious studies at Northwestern University. more

    A homemade magazine cover featuring a woman in a black niqab and pink makeup.

    The Guardian, May 10, 2021

    "Some Muslim women told researcher Anna Piela that the pandemic allowed them to feel more comfortable adopting the niqab, which they had wanted to do before." more

    A homemade magazine cover featuring a woman in a black niqab and pink makeup.

    "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

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    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

    A drawing of three individuals wearing masks that read Smiley Annoyed and Neutral on a green background

    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

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    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."

     

    A homemade magazine cover featuring a woman in a black niqab and pink makeup.

    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)

  • PEDAGOGY

    Critical thinking

    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.

    Fostering diversity

    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.

  • Download my CV + publications list

  • CONTACT ME

  • CONNECT

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