7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Jennifer Cheng

Jennifer E. Cheng is a Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University. She is also a member of the Challenging Racism Project at Western Sydney University. Her research contributions lie in the areas of Islamophobia and anti-Islamophobia, migration multiculturalism, racism and anti-racism, integration and approaches using critical discourse analysis. Her recently funded projects include "Muslim Women’s Participation in the Auburn Giants AFL Team", "Reimagining Muslim Women through Sport", and "CALD Parental Experiences of Children's Extracurricular Activities". She has published on anti-racist and anti-Islamophobic discourses, including her book, entitled Anti-racist Discourse on Muslims in the Australian Parliament, discourses on Australian values, and Muslim women’s experiences of participating in sport.

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Critical Discourse Analysis and Anti-racism: an Analysis of Muslim Women’s Opinions on the Burkini Ban

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a methodological approach often used to expose racist and discriminatory talk. As it is nowadays taboo to make explicitly racist remarks, CDA can be used to reveal xenophobic beliefs and arguments which are deliberately concealed by certain discursive strategies. However, while CDA can equally be used to challenge and resist racism, there are very few studies investigating how CDA can reveal anti-racist strategies.

This paper explores the anti-racist discourses of ten Australian Muslim women discussing the 2016 ban on burkinis on several French beaches. As members of an informal swimming club, the ‘Swim Sisters’, and wearers of variations of the burkini, the women are well placed to comment on the ban. In contrast to many studies on anti-racism which investigate the anti-racist discourses of those from the dominant group, the Muslim women themselves were specifically asked for their opinion on the ban.

Findings show that the women actively disputed pre-existing beliefs around notions of ‘comfort’ and what Muslim women’s motives are in wearing a burkini. This paper will discuss both the conversion of pre-existing CDA methodologies to be suitable for a study on anti-racism as well as the findings from the study.