Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World: Gender, by Stephanie Cronin

By Stephanie Cronin

In contemporary years sour controversies have erupted throughout Europe and the center East approximately women’s veiling, and particularly their donning of the face-veil or niqab. but the deeper matters contained inside those controversies – secularism as opposed to spiritual trust, person freedom as opposed to social or relations coercion, identification as opposed to integration – aren't new yet are strikingly prefigured by means of prior conflicts. This publication examines the state-sponsored anti-veiling campaigns which swept throughout broad swathes of the Muslim global within the interwar interval, specially in Turkey and the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and the Soviet republics of the Caucasus and vital Asia. It exhibits how veiling used to be formally discouraged and ridiculed as backward and, even though it used to be hardly banned, veiling was once politicized and become a rallying-point for a much broader competition. Asking a couple of questions about this prior anti-veiling discourse and the rules flowing from it, and the reactions which it provoked, the ebook illuminates and contextualizes modern debates approximately gender, Islam and modernism.

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Extra resources for Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World: Gender, Modernism and the Politics of Dress

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24 Some considered the issue of veiling a distraction from the real tasks such as education and family law reform, others pointed out that veiling avoided an otherwise total confinement to the home. Nonetheless, the unprecedented audibility of women’s voices transformed women from merely objects of modernist reform agendas into active participants, and announced the arrival of the wearing or discarding of the veil as an issue of female agency. In Muslim societies of the late nineteenth century, forms of hijab, or modest dress, certainly varied, from country to country, class to class and context to context.

What meaning does the concept of women’s agency have in the context of the still prevailing patriarchal social structures and the authoritarian modernization characterizing the anti-veiling regimes? What strategies did women employ to manage the new expectations placed on them? What types of opposition did unveiling provoke? What was the reaction of men? How can the shocking levels of violence accompanying unveiling in Central Asia be explained? Was the conceptualization of veiling as a social evil unique or can it be better understood by placing it within a more generalized modernist preoccupation with eradicating local practices relating to women’s bodies such as Chinese foot binding or female circumcision in Africa?

The male clothing reforms of the 1920s were not primarily concerned with gender, their adoption necessitating no wider transformation in male-female public interaction, as unveiling was to do. They did, however, possess a gender dimension. Nationalists everywhere remained wedded to the view that changes to women’s lives could best be advanced by mobilizing the patriarchal structures of society. Women would unveil when encouraged or permitted to do so by their fathers and husbands. 43 Only in the USSR was there no attempt to transform male appearance and therefore consciousness as a prerequisite to tackling the veil.

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