Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World : Gender, Modernism and the Politics of Dress book cover
1st Edition

Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World
Gender, Modernism and the Politics of Dress

Edited By

Stephanie Cronin

ISBN 9781138687202
Published April 27, 2016 by Routledge
304 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In recent years bitter controversies have erupted across Europe and the Middle East about women’s veiling, and especially their wearing of the face-veil or niqab. Yet the deeper issues contained within these controversies – secularism versus religious belief, individual freedom versus social or family coercion, identity versus integration – are not new but are strikingly prefigured by earlier conflicts. This book examines the state-sponsored anti-veiling campaigns which swept across wide swathes of the Muslim world in the interwar period, especially in Turkey and the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and the Soviet republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia. It shows how veiling was officially discouraged and ridiculed as backward and, although it was rarely banned, veiling was politicized and turned into a rallying-point for a wider opposition. Asking a number of questions about this earlier anti-veiling discourse and the policies flowing from it, and the reactions which it provoked, the book illuminates and contextualizes contemporary debates about gender, Islam and modernism.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Coercion or Empowerment? Anti-Veiling Campaigns: A Comparative Perspective  Part 1: Turkey  1. From Face Veil to Cloche Hat: The Backward Ottoman versus New Turkish Woman in Urban Public Discourse  2. Anti-Veiling Campaigns and Local Elites in Turkey of the 1930s: A View from the Periphery  3. Everyday Resistance to Unveiling and Flexible Secularism in Early Republican Turkey  Part 2: Iran and Afghanistan  4. Unveiling Ambiguities: Revisiting 1930s Iran’s Kashf-i Hijab Campaign  5. Dressing Up (or Down): Veils, Hats, and Consumer Fashions in Interwar Iran  6. Astrakhan, Borqa’, Chadari, Dreshi: The Economy of Dress in Early 20th Century Afghanistan  Part 3: Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus  7. Women-Initiated Unveiling: State-led Campaigns in Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan  Part 4: The Balkans  8. Behind the Veil: The Reform of Islam in Inter-War Albania or the Search for a ‘Modern’ and ‘European’ Islam  9. Difference Unveiled: Bulgarian National Imperatives and the Re-Dressing of Muslim Women, 1878-1989

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Stephanie Cronin is a Lecturer in Iranian History at the University of Oxford, UK.


"The book’s most obvious common theme is the correspondence between the need to carve put a national character and the female body politic. Anti-veiling in these countries was an opposition to Arabisation; the veild came to be seen as a cultural import that was both alien and foreign in the modernising State. By comparison, even at the height of secular nationalism in the Arab world, Stephanie Cronin notes that there were no official attempts to change "sartorial practices in any systematic way". The second theme that is pertinent throughout the book is the way in which suppositions about female dress can be contradictory. Face veils, cast as backward and submissive, wee in fact widely accepted and practised by elites in these countries prior to forceful unveiling reforms enacted during the 20th century".

R.Khan , The Royal Society of Asian Affairs