KITA Discourse Series 11/2017: Going Shopping on Muslim Pilgrimage: Clothing and Consumption by Muslim Malay Pilgrims on ‘Umrah and Ziarah Dubai’, 18 September 2017

On 18th September 2017 (Monday), KITA had co-organized KITA Discourse Series 11/2017 with the following details:

Title: Going Shopping on Muslim Pilgrimage: Clothing and Consumption by Muslim Malay Pilgrims on ‘Umrah and Ziarah Dubai’
Speaker: Dr. Viola Thimm (Monash University Malaya)
Venue: KITA Meeting Room

Abstract: Traveling plays a special role in Islam. The spirituality of travel becomes obvious in the big (haj) and the small (umrah) pilgrimage journey to the holy places of Islam in today’s Saudi-Arabia as well as in visiting holy graves and shrines (ziarah) even outside the Arabian Peninsula. In Malaysia, travel agencies offer umrah journeys connected with ziarah, which are understood here as part religious observance and part holiday and leisure. Malay women from Malaysia especially choose Dubai as the destination for ziarah due to the possibilities for going shopping. They are particularly interested in purchasing the abaya, a long black garment which is usually worn by Arab women. The way of dressing plays an important role in bodily self-representation and in communicating one’s self-image to the outside world. Muslim Malay Malaysian women allocate different meaning to their abayas: From “religiously-modern to “too sexy.” Through the abaya, they negotiate modernity as well as interpretations and concepts of Islam. This lecture gives insights into gendered negotiations of consumerist practices by Muslim Malaysian women on the religious journey to Dubai, especially with regard to the body and dress codes.

About the Speaker: Dr. Viola Thimm is Research Fellow at the Asia-Africa-Institute at Hamburg University (Germany). From May to October 2017, she is Visiting Researcher at Monash University (Malaysia). She was awarded her doctoral degree in Cultural Anthropology in 2013 from University of Göttingen (Germany) with a dissertation on Gender and Educational Migration in Singapore and Malaysia. She was guest researcher at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 2009 and at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) (now ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute), Singapore in 2008. Her research interests include cultural practices of mobility; gender relations and intersectionality; kinship and family networks; Islam and its socio-cultural entanglements as well as consumer culture and consumption. Thimm has been granted several fellowships and awards such as a Research Fellowship by the German Research Foundation (DFG), a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship by the “Nachwuchsinitiative der Universität Hamburg” and a Doctoral Fellowship granted by the Hans-Böckler-Foundation.