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This study deals with the meanings and conditions of motherhood for some Muslim women in Sweden, the majority of which live in Stockholm. The analysis is based mainly on 16 in-depth interviews with women who self-identify as Muslims. A majority of them were born in Sweden. In this study, motherhood and mothering are defined as intentional care work situated within, and shaped by, specific social, cultural and historical contexts. I examine which gendered, religious and spatial meanings are associated with mothering and Muslim identity in a Swedish transnational context. The analysis shows that religion (for most of the women) constitutes aninterpretational frame for motherhood and for how children should be mothered into good Muslims and citizens.

The women represent Islam as a facilitating religion by making a distinction between religion and culture. The study also shows how the women approach the problem of maintaining the children’s Muslim identities and their self-esteem in a secularized and islamophobic Swedish context, and how they stress the importance of the child developing a strong inner self. Based on the women’s own experiences of having been singled out as different, they respond to a racist logic associated with certain norms and conceptions about what counts as freedom or oppression. The interviews also reveal a transnational aspect of their mothering in which they consider what other places can offer their children.

The thesis shows on the one hand how an authentic Muslim identity is related to ideas about Muslim places and origins; on the other hand it demonstrates how the women’s ambivalent affinities with Sweden, and (what they consider to be) Swedish and Muslim values, destabilize such an unambiguous connection. These ambivalent identifications show how the women’s conditional affinities become relevant for how they speak about motherhood and mothering and for how they relate to questions concerning “the good of the child”.