Being ‘religious and cultural rebels’ or being ‘cultural hybrids’? The role of identity capital in Muslim female university students’ self-construction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Research on university-educated Muslim women in different cultural contexts has displayed an intricate and paradoxical connection between experiences of higher education and identity mediation. A traditional model conceptualizes Muslim female university students as ‘rebels’ against their heritage religion and culture. Recent developments in the context of poststructural feminism highlight the configuration of a hybrid self-image embracing the target and heritage cultures in an additive and empowering manner. To enhance our understanding of the potential impact of higher education on identity negotiation, this study employs the notion of identity capital in an analysis of two South Asian Muslim female university students in Hong Kong over a two-year period. Participants’ life histories reveal that personal capacity to invest in identity capital (a contextually-dependent hybrid self) relies on an individual’s unique possession of various forms of capital. This study thus cautions against generalizations about Muslim women’s university experiences, and suggests that Muslim minorities as multicultural students and that their multilingual/multicultural skills, as forms of ‘intercultural capital,’ should be valued by all societal institutions. Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1032-1047
JournalGender and Education
Volume30
Issue number8
Early online dateMar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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Muslim
university
student
women's university
possession
feminism
self-image
mediation
Hong Kong
education
experience
Religion
minority
Group

Citation

Gao, F. (2018). Being ‘religious and cultural rebels’ or being ‘cultural hybrids’? The role of identity capital in Muslim female university students’ self-construction. Gender and Education, 30(8), 1032-1047. doi: 10.1080/09540253.2017.1296112

Keywords

  • Identity capital
  • Intersecting multiple capitals
  • University
  • Muslim women
  • Hong Kong