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 concerns contained inside of those controversies – secularism as opposed to non secular trust, person freedom as opposed to social or kinfolk coercion, id as opposed to integration – aren't new yet are strikingly prefigured through previous conflicts. This publication examines the state-sponsored anti-veiling campaigns which swept throughout extensive swathes of the Muslim international within the interwar interval, specifically in Turkey and the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and the Soviet republics of the Caucasus and relevant Asia. It exhibits how veiling was once formally discouraged and ridiculed as backward and, even though it used to be not often banned, veiling used to be politicized and became a rallying-point for a much wider competition. Asking a couple of questions about this previous anti-veiling discourse and the regulations flowing from it, and the reactions which it provoked, the publication illuminates and contextualizes modern debates approximately gender, Islam and modernism.
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Additional info for Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World: Gender, Modernism and the Politics of Dress
In Iran, in particular, opposition to veiling began to be associated with religious scepticism, heresy and unbelief, sometimes taking on an aspect not just of secularism but of anti-clericalism. 22 The conscious use of the veiling issue to attack Islam and clerics naturally took the issue into new political territory. Elsewhere, too, although perhaps less violently, unveiling possessed similar unwelcome connotations of unbelief. 23 At first, the debates over veiling were an exclusively male concern, women the objects of both discourse and counter-discourse.
These controversies reached a crescendo in the early twentieth century, becoming subsumed into broader debates about Middle Eastern self-defence, on the intellectual, cultural and ideological, and also political and economic levels, from a relentlessly expanding European hegemony. The modernist gender discourse, and the opposition to veiling and female seclusion which was embedded within it, appeared and took shape between the late nineteenth century and the First World War. From the early 1920s, this discourse was empowered across much of the Muslim world as a result of the seizure of state control by a variety of modernist regimes.
Each anti-veiling campaign of the interwar period has received its share of attention, but analysis has always remained largely within the confines of a national framework. 4 Many questions remain to be clarified. What was actually meant by unveiling? What did the anti-veiling discourse envisage as the ideal appearance of the newly-unveiled woman? Is it accurate to speak of the emergence of a modernist pan-Islamic gender discourse and counter-discourse within which a critique of veiling was embedded?
Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World: Gender, Modernism and the Politics of Dress by Stephanie Cronin