This groundbreaking volume, written entirely by women, examines the vastly misunderstood and multilayered world of the veil. Veiling— of women, of men, and of sacred places and objects—has existed in countless cultures and religions from time immemorial. Today, veiling is a globally polarizing issue, a locus for the struggle between Islam and the West and between contemporary and traditional interpretations of Islam. But veiling was a practice long before Islam and still extends far beyond the Middle East. This book explores and examines the cultures, politics, and histories of veiling. Twenty-one gifted writers and scholars, representing a wide range of societies, religions, ages, locations, races, and accomplishments, here elucidate, challenge, and/or praise the practice. Expertly organized and introduced by Jennifer Heath, who also writes on male veiling, the essays are arranged in three parts: the veil as an expression of the sacred; the veil as it relates to the emotional and the sensual; and the veil in its sociopolitical aspects. This unique, dynamic, and insightful volume is illustrated throughout. It brings together a multiplicity of thought and experience, much of it personal, to make readily accessible a difficult and controversial subject.
Contributors: Kecia Ali, Michelle Auerbach, Sarah C. Bell, Barbara Goldman Carrel, Eve Grubin, Roxanne Kamayani Gupta, Jana M. Hawley, Jasbir Jain, Mohja Kahf, Laurene Lafontaine, Shireen Malik, Maliha Masood, Marjane Satrapi, Aisha Shaheed, Rita Stephan, Pamela K. Taylor, Ashraf Zahedi, Dinah Zeiger, Sherifa Zuhur
List of Illustrations
1. From Her Royal Body the Robe Was Removed: The Blessings of the Veil and the Trauma of Forced Unveilings in the Middle East
2. Shattered Vessels That Contain Divine Sparks: Unveiling Hasidic Women's Dress Code
Barbara Goldman Carrel
3. Going the Whole Nine Yards: Vignettes of the Veil in India
Roxanne Kamayani Gupta
4. Out of the Cloister: Unveiling to Better Serve the Gospel
Laurene M. Lafontaine
5. The Amish Veil: Symbol of Separation and Community
6. “What is subordinated, dominates”: Mourning, Magic, Masks, and Male Veiling
7. I Just Want to Be Me: Issues in Identity for One American Muslim Woman
Pamela K. Taylor
8. “She freed and floated on the air”: Salome and Her Dance of the Seven Veils
9. “He hath couerd my soule inwarde”: Veiling in Medieval Europe and the Early Church
Désirée G. Koslin
10. Nubo: The Wedding Veil
Sarah C. Bell
11. After Eden: The Veil as a Conduit to the Internal
12. Virtue and Sin: An Arab Christian Woman's Perspective
13. Drawing the Line at Modesty: My Place in the Order of Things
14. On the Road: Travels with My Hijab
15. Purdah, Patriarchy, and the Tropical Sun: Womanhood in India
16. The Veil: From Persepolis
17. Concealing and Revealing Female Hair: Veiling Dynamics in Contemporary Iran
18. That (Afghan) Girl! Ideology Unveiled in National Geographic
19. Burqas and Bikinis: Islamic Dress in Newspaper Cartoons
20. Dress Codes and Modes: How Islamic Is the Veil?
21. From Veil to Veil: “What's in a woman's head is more important than what's on it”
About the Contributors
Jennifer Heath is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Scimitar and the Veil: Extraordinary Women of Islam, and her writing has appeared in numerous anthologies. She has traveled extensively throughout the Muslim world and is the founder of Seeds for Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Relief Organization Midwife Training and Infant Care program, now International Midwife Assistance.
"The twenty-one essays here, all by women, provide an exciting, first hand account of the significance of veiling, past and present, in various countries, religions and cultures. The editor's introduction is a wonderful exposition of the current scholarship regarding the sacred, sensual and sociopolitical connotations of the veil. The book brilliantly illuminates the universality of the veil, and reveals that it is not confined to Islam. The book should be compulsory reading for policy-makers all over the world. Anyone interested in the human condition (not only researchers in the fields of sociology or economics or literary and cultural studies) can profit from this scholarly yet jargon-free book."—Shyamala A. Narayan, Jamia Millia Islamia University
"A refreshingly three-dimensional portrait of the veil in history and in our contemporary world. This collection of essays turns the veil into a mirror, reflecting back upon us our own presumptions and prejudices. You will learn something about yourself in these pages."—Asifa Quraishi
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