Where Are You Really From? Understanding Misrecognition From the Experiences of French and Dutch Muslim Women Students


  • Caroline da Silva
  • Judith de Jong
  • Allard R. Feddes
  • Bertjan Doosje
  • Andreea Gruev-Vintila


We investigate experiences of misrecognition through comparative focus groups with headscarf-wearing Muslim women students in France (N = 46) and in the Netherlands (N = 32). In both countries, women reported experiencing misrecognition across four interrelated dimensions: (1) totalising misrecognition, having their Muslim identity highlighted at the expense of other group affiliations; (2) membership misrecognition, having their national belonging denied; (3) content misrecognition, having negative characteristics associated with their religious identity, and (4) invisibility, having their voices unheard in society and/or their identities excluded from (public) professions. Participants conceptualised misrecognition as a product of deficient intergroup (Muslims vs. non-Muslims) contact and as being worse in France. French women felt relatively more invisible in the public sphere than their Dutch counterparts and perceived politicians across the political spectrum as an important source of misrecognition. These findings suggest that misrecognition is present in Europe, and potentially worse in France, raising the question about what measures might be taken to counter this form of group-based exclusion.