Narrating Liberal Rights and Culture: Muslim Face Veiling, Urban Coexistence and Contention in Spain

Marian Burchardt, Mar Griera, Gloria García-Romeral

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22 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis. Drawing on cultural sociology approaches to the role of narrative and framing in politics, this article explores urban contestations over Muslim face veiling in Spain. We argue that regimes of religious diversity are shaped by the ways that the framing and narrating of rights and culture acquire cultural resonance and political traction in urban society. We find that the meanings attached to the face veil and mobilised in public discourses draw on memories and stocks of knowledge emerging from recent histories of urban society. In order to resonate with broader publics and their sensibilities, actors organise these meanings through storylines and integrate them into narratives. We demonstrate that those in favour of the ban on face veiling were able to construct a coherent and expressive narrative around values of social harmony while simultaneously framing it in the language of rights, which allowed them to influence local media and popular discourse in decisive ways. Arguments against the ban, on the contrary, were mostly based on a much narrower rights-based approach that remained abstract and highly difficult to convert into a narrative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1068-1087
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2015


  • Cultural Sociology
  • Migration
  • Religious Diversity
  • Spain
  • Urban Conflict


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