Mirjam Aeschbach completed her bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and English Literature and Linguistics (2010-2014) and finished her master’s studies in Religious Studies and Gender Studies at the University of Zurich in January 2017. During her studies she spent a semester abroad at the University of Utrecht within the scope of an Erasmus scholarship.
From 2017-2018 she worked as a research and teaching assistant at the Chair of Religious Studies with a social-scientific orientation in Zurich. In addition, she worked as a research associate at the Chair of Social Psychology and Higher Education Research (ETHZ D-GESS) and as part of the SNSF project "Ausdifferenzierung des Zeitschriftenmarktes in der Schweiz und Deutschland. Eine vergleichende Analyse von Angebotsstrukturen, Inhalten und vermitteltem wissenschaftlichem Wissen" at the Department of Communication and Media Research. She is currently conducting her dissertation project within the scope of a 3-year Doc.CH research grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation, in which she deals with the media negotiation of national affiliation in the discourse on Muslim women in Switzerland.
Religion and Media
Religion and politics in media discourses
Identity processes and national identity
Gender and religion
Islam in contemporary Europe
Shaping the Boundaries of National Belonging:
Muslim Women in Switzerland across German-speaking Media Platforms
The project is conceptualized as a qualitative media analysis of how national belonging is shaped by Muslim women in the German-speaking part of Switzerland across digital and non-digital media platforms. Research on current Western European contexts suggests that religion, and specifically Islam, is a key issue when acceptable measures of difference within a particular nation are publicly negotiated. In Switzerland, debates on Islam have characterized many political endeavours on questions about the extent to which Islam is socially acceptable, for instance the initiative to ban minarets or the more recent venture to ban veiling. Such issues have also figured prominently in media outputs, as for instance in the NZZ Folio “Muslims in Switzerland: How much Islam can the country tolerate?” (2016). Muslim women actively take part in these debates on the relationship between Islam and Switzerland and negotiate their own positionalities and the way they are entangled with notions of national belonging. With issues of gender equality figuring prominently as normative demarcation strategies and Muslim women frequently marking images of “self” and “other” in public debates, analysing the contributions of Muslim women sheds light on how such representations are taken up, re-appropriated, and potentially challenged.
This project addresses two central questions: (1) Which Muslim women take part in the current public media discourse on Islam in the German-speaking part of Switzerland? (2) How do these women shape images of “self” and “other” and thereby patterns of national belonging across media platforms? Methodologically, the research is based on Altheide’s Qualitative Media Analysis (2013) and approaches the research questions in two ways: (a) Muslim women who actively figure as discourse actors in media outputs are identified and (b) their discourse contributions are tracked across digital, non-digital, and social media platforms. In the subsequent qualitative document analysis, the intersectional subject positions of these Muslim women, the frames and patterns of interpretation with regard to national belonging, and the content-related differences between communication platforms are explored. The first-time focus on Muslim women across media will further result in a differentiated picture of their specific use of different media platforms and will shed light on the active contribution of Muslim women to images of national belonging in Switzerland.