This article discusses the perception of self as mediated by digital technology among Muslim women wearing what I term the e-hijab in Second Life . Although many religions exist in Second Life , female Muslim women whose avatars wear the e-hijab bear a clear visual manifestation of religious identity. For the most part, these women tend to use this new public space to attend religious events and congregate to discuss religious issues. This article is based on interviews conducted in-world with the creators of those avatars; it looks into common behavioral patterns as well as interpersonal relationships within the groups to which these women belong. The article questions how these women negotiate and appropriate this new-found public space and contends that, although the space is public, anonymity creates a level of comfort that permits the women to interact outside their own physical worlds. By appropriating this space, the women are essentially recreating the ““familiar,”” which makes them in one sense more assertive, distinguishing them from others. In another sense, however, recreating the familiar means recreating idealized extensions of themselves. But whereas in real life their personas have multiple facets, projecting this particular ““pious”” identity (i.e., wearing the e-hijab ) tends to limit their behavior and relationships. Finally, the article examines whether Second Life is an appropriate medium for learning and educating about Islam and Muslims. Second Life offers some interesting but inadequate insights into behaviors because it presents a one-sided view of people rather than a multifaceted one.
International Journal of Learning and Media – MIT Press
Published: May 1, 2010
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