Imaging Islamic Identity: Negotiated Norms of Representation in Euro-Muslim Picture Books

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Abstract

The article analyzes the recent genre of Islamic children’s picture books, originally produced as a means of religious socialization for the British Muslim communities, but marked on a global Islamic market. Particular attention is devoted to the visual norms of the books produced by one of the pioneering publishers of Islamic children’s literature, the Islamic Foundation. With one foot in the pedagogic needs of contemporary British-Muslim children and the aesthetic standards of a Euro-American picture book tradition, and the other foot in an Islamic theological and artistic tradition of visual representation, the article discusses the creative processes of negotiation defining the visual codes of images illustrating the stories. While the books produced during the formative period of the 1980s remained faithful to a strict interpretation of Sunni orthodox norms of representation, avoiding depiction of animated beings, the children’s literature published from the late 1990s has abandoned such visual restriction. Then again, the depiction of animated beings in more recent materials is balanced by more subtle ways of underscoring the particularly Islamic character of the children’s literature. Rather than bluntly imposing visual or theological norms on reading children, the recent literature aims at the religious socialization by relying on a careful selection of topics for narration (the domestic sphere, ritual space, created nature) as well as key-symbols in the illustrations.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Social Sciences

Keywords

  • Islam, Children's literature, Islamic art, norms of representation, minority, Britain, Kube Publishing, Islamic Foundation, multiculturalism
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-338
JournalComparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
Volume32
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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