Haïfa Tlili

2018 Visiting Research Fellow

Fellows Centre of Expertise Gender, Diversity and Intersectionality (RHEA) Sport & Society (SASO) Children & Youth Health Migration & Diversity

Paris Descartes University / From May to August 2018 / Urban culture and diversity

Since Haïfa’s PhD (2008), her intercultural research aims to enhance women of Arabic-Muslim culture, relating to their bodies, their practice of physical and sporting activities, in different contexts (France, Tunisia and Canada). Belgium offers social, cultural, political features interesting to compare with France in order to get to know the problems and preoccupations that women experience (linked with inactivity) better, and thus improve their opportunities for action and well-being (physical, psychological and social).

Haïfa’s thesis centred on a comparative analysis of bodily and movement issues among women of Arabic-Muslim culture involved in departments of sport and physical education in France and Tunisia. She is interested in feminist poststructuralist – post-colonialist issues, and in September 2009, she was offered a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Critical Health Research Group lead by Genevieve Rail at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute (Concordia University). Haïfa is currently a Research Associate there. She has conducted research on a project focusing on Canadian women’s discursive constructions of the body and health in the context of the predominant obesity discourses. More specifically she looked into how young women who emigrated from the Maghreb to Montreal discursively construct their body and their health. Now, she is doing a comparison with health, obesity discourses of French Women from the Maghreb, who live in France. There seems to be a relation between sports discourses and the impact on physical activities practices. Haïfa also works with associations/NGO/organization who want to develop leadership and empowerment program for underprivileged populations and girls/women in particular (PLayInternational, W(e)Talk for Women Empowerment Talk and GIRLZ! their lab, Diambars association or Mozaïk RH (recruitment firm that provides jobs for all respecting the diversity of the French population); but also with an important French Physical Education Union – UFOLEP).

For instance, by giving voices to French girls in underprivileged neighbourhoods (Tlili & Delorme, 2014, Action Research - UFOLEP & Paris Descartes University), it was possible to know why they did not want to practice physical activities by highlighting body and sport representations, poor quarters’ obstacles and motivations, to co-construct recommendations with girls, practitioners, stakeholders and sport institutions. The difference between girls and sport actors’ representations create innovative actions and new opportunity of work. With the results, it was possible to build a pilot program that meets girls’ and women’ needs, which will be testing one year between September 2017 and December 2018 in 4 underprivileged areas (UFOLEP with the support of the European Commission - Active Voice and the Cultural Services of the U.S. Embassy in Paris). 

Six objectives of Haïfa’s Visiting Research Fellowship are:

1) writing an English article with Reinhard Haudenhuyse (SASO) and Sophie Withaeckx (RHEA) based on the report’s results (Tlili & Delorme, 2014) on girls in underprivileged areas in France, the causes of their inactivity and the emerging recommendations;

2) collecting data on the topic of Muslim’s girls/women and sport participation in Brussels;

3) making field observations and informal interviews with girls/women in order to understand the Brussels context (strengths and weaknesses);

4) organizing a master class with students working on “Sport and Diversity”;

5) organizing a conference/participatory workshop on the topic of “Sport, Gender and Islam” (as a continuation of the conference in Utrecht) with academics, politics, stakeholders, Muslim’s leaders and girls/ women and

6) setting up an Erasmus + project.