Ph.D. Thesis: “Comparing Modesty in Orthodox Jewish Women and Muslim Women in the U.S”

Comparing Modesty in Orthodox Jewish Women and Muslim Women

Ph.D. Thesis: “Comparing Modesty in Orthodox Jewish Women and Muslim Women in the U.S”

Author: Hatice Altundal-Erkmen

University: Indiana University

Date of Award: 2022


In this dissertation, Ms. Hatice Altundal-Erkmen focuses on (i) how the concept of modesty has been understood, interpreted, and practiced in Judaism and Islam by identifying similarities and differences and (ii) how Orthodox Jewish women and Muslim women perceive the concept of modesty in a secular society, America. She tackles the question of how Orthodox Jewish women and Muslim women in America make sense of modest dress code, where modest clothing, especially the practice of head covering, is seen largely as a sign of oppression, especially at the public level. More specifically, despite negative and orientalist representations of the concept of modesty embedded in American mainstream media and political discourse, religious women who embrace a modest dress code challenge stereotypical assumptions about and orientalist discourse on the practice of head covering. By using social media to be heard, they underscore that they dress modestly by choice, not by force. In doing so, they not only challenge popular assumptions, including that these women are forced to wear modest clothing, but also assert agency. In this study, she utilizes the concept of modesty because this term functions as an analytical framework to explore the connections and commonalities between two cultures and religions. She employs narrative analysis and discourse analysis in examining media texts, journals, news reports, blogs, and other digital platforms.  The author also provides historical context for both religions in America and their responses to modernity to explore the layers and complexities of understanding religious modesty in a secular setting and draw attention to an ever-growing diversity in the interpretation, meaning, and display of modesty among orthodox Jewish women and Muslim women.

Source: Proquest

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