The digital lives of Muslim sportswomen: Navigating the spaces of sport, culture, and social media
Ahmad, N. (2019). The digital lives of Muslim sportswomen: Navigating the spaces of sport, culture, and social media (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13336
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13336
This research focuses on the multiple and diverse ways that Muslim sportswomen navigate a range of online spaces. In exploring the digital lives of Muslim sportswomen, this research moves beyond stereotypical representations and binaries (e.g., the hijab vs non-hijabi athlete). It also considers the broader context of ongoing racial, cultural, religious, and gender inequalities to recognise the complexities of Muslim sportswomen’s lived experiences and interactions with social media. Adopting an intersectional feminist approach, this thesis explores how Muslim women negotiate various dimensions of their identities (e.g., religion, ethnicity, nationality, culture, gender) within and across offline and online spaces. Adopting a digital ethnographic approach, this research is informed by observations of the social media platforms of 26 Muslim sportswomen conducted over eight months. The primary platforms studied included Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Participants are from eight countries and participate in a wide range of sports (e.g., football, mountaineering, CrossFit, snowboarding). In-depth semi-structured interviews with the Muslim sportswomen provided further space for the women to share how they navigate various social media platforms to represent aspects of their sporting, social, and cultural identities. Findings are organised into three analysis chapters, each being informed by feminist theories on intersectionality. Chapter Four explores how Muslim sportswomen negotiate power and surveillance within and across the different digital platforms. Chapter Five examines the multifaceted digital practices of Muslim sportswomen, particularly their self-branding strategies, which they navigate in culturally specific ways. Chapter Six explores how Muslim sportswomen are ‘invading’ digital spaces and disrupting stereotypical discourses of Muslim women. These chapters expand current understandings of sportswomen’s use of social media, as well as contemporary understandings of the challenges and strategies of Muslim women living within and across online and offline worlds. Adopting a feminist intersectional analysis, this research offers new ways of thinking about and doing research in the interstitial spaces of Muslim women’s sporting and digital lives.
The University of Waikato
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