Veil : Modesty, Privacy and Resistance / Edition 1

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Shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award 2000.

In the 1970s, often to the consternation of parents and siblings, certain progressive young Arab women voluntarily donned the veil. The movement, which rapidly expanded and continues to gather momentum, has sparked controversy within Islamic culture, as well as reactions ranging from perplexity to outrage from those outside it. Western feminist commentators have been particularly vociferous in decrying the veil, which they glibly interpret as a concrete manifestation of patriarchal oppression.

However, most Western observers fail to realize that veiling, which has a long and complex history, has been embraced by many Arab women as both an affirmation of cultural identity and a strident feminist statement. Not only does the veil de-marginalize women in society, but it also represents an expression of liberation from colonial legacies. In short, contemporary veiling is more often than not about resistance. By voluntarily removing themselves from the male gaze, these women assert their allegiance to a rich and varied tradition, and at the same time preserve their sexual identity. Beyond this, however, the veil also communicates exclusivity of rank and nuances in social status and social relations that provide telling insights into how Arab culture is constituted. Further, as the author clearly demonstrates, veiling is intimately connected with notions of the self, the body and community, as well as with the cultural construction of identity, privacy and space.

This provocative book draws on extensive original fieldwork, anthropology, history and original Islamic sources to challenge the simplistic assumption that veiling is largely about modesty and seclusion, honor and shame.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Her work considerably expands understanding of the complexities of veiling traditions over time and space." —Choice

"Much textual and field research has gone into El Guindi's exploration, and many will find her conclusions persuasive, disputed though they are." —Saudi Aramco World

"This is clearly a book that will be of value for years." —Yemen Update

"El-Guindi's book presents the first systematic and in-depth gendered analysis of the veil." —Jourbanal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"Veil is the most comprehensive and interesting study to date that explores a misunderstood subject involving the lives of more than one billion persons. . . . It should be required reading for those studying the Middle East, Islam, dress, gender, political resistance, and anthropology." —American Anthropologist

"Veil is an engrossing, scholarly, and comprehensive analysis of the veil in its many social, historical and political contexts." —Barbara C. Aswad, Wayne State University

"A stimulating and informative analysis of a key aspect of a significant cultural practice." —The Asia Pacific Jourbanal of Anthropology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859739297
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Series: Dress, Body, Culture Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Table of Contents

Transliteration and Translation
Pt. 1 Veiling in Perspective
1 Introduction 3
2 The Veil in Comparative Tradition 13
3 Ideological Roots to Ethnocentrism 23
Pt. 2 Dress, "Libas" and "Hijab"
4 The Anthropology of Dress 49
5 Sacred Privacy 77
6 The Veil in Social Space 97
7 The Veil Of Masculinity 117
8 The Veil Becomes a Movement 129
9 The Sacred In The Veil: Hijab 147
Pt. 3 The Resistance of the Veil
10 Reactions To The New Trend 161
11 Contexts Of Resistance 169
12 Veiling And Feminism 177
Notes 187
Bibliography 215
Index 235
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