Magazine article New Internationalist

Note from the New Internationalist Co-Operative

Magazine article New Internationalist

Note from the New Internationalist Co-Operative

Article excerpt

When designer Alan Hughes first pitched the cover that you now see on the front of this edition, I went, 'Oh no...' This kind of image is often used as a shorthand to pose questions of integration and identity.

So up I got on my high horse, lecturing anyone who would listen about such essentialism. I felt uncomfortable that this woman was being reduced to her burkha, at the conflict of values suggested ('Islam and the West' - two grand monoliths!), at the singling out, yet again, of supposed Muslim identities when problems of cultural interaction are deeper and wider. There's a debate on women's clothing and choice raging in our Letters page at the moment and this seemed like an unhappy reflection of that, too.

For me, identity and beliefs are about choice, taking on board the things to which I feel an affinity. But when the media goes into overdrive over 'home-grown terror' and culture clashes', I wonder about all those people identified immediately as being members of one group or another, and the limitations of such identity. Choice and reasoning seem to jump right out the window.

But others in the NI co-operative felt differently. They felt the image went to the heart of people's concerns about culturally diverse societies, concerns to which they might find some answers in the edition you hold in your hands. …

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