Book review: Mainstreaming the Headscarf: Islamist Politics and Women in the Turkish Media

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This is a timely book as Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP: Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi) under the leadership of president Tayyip Erdogan is about to reach two decades of increasingly authoritarian rule and conservative political transformation. As an expat feminist, Turkish communications and media scholar working now in the United States, Esra Ozcan, has experienced first-hand the headscarf ban of the 1990s in Turkish universities as a BA and MA student. In the preface, Ozcan mentions how her own personal experience of the headscarf ban informed her graduate studies later on. As a young woman wearing headscarf herself, she has suffered discrimination through the repressive policies of the secularist Kemalist elite that held checks and balances through an unelected military-civilian bureaucratic elite that ruled the country until the early 2000s. In her book, Mainstreaming the Headscarf, Ozcan reflects on the symbolic use of the headscarf in newspaper images and how the conservative women newspaper columnists used it at first to bring attention to their marginalised/repressed status as women under an authoritarian system and later on how these same women broke their negotiation with liberal intellectuals and secular feminists and betrayed them by supporting the neo-con agenda of AKP and Erdogan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528
Number of pages530
JournalEuropean Journal of Communication
Issue number5
Early online date24 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Oct 2020


  • women
  • gender
  • Islam
  • covering
  • turkey


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