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Veiling in Africa

Edited by Elisha P. Renne

Publication Year: 2013

The tradition of the veil, which refers to various cloth coverings of the head, face, and body, has been little studied in Africa, where Islam has been present for more than a thousand years. These lively essays raise questions about what is distinctive about veiling in Africa, what religious histories or practices are reflected in particular uses of the veil, and how styles of veils have changed in response to contemporary events. Together, they explore the diversity of meanings and experiences with the veil, revealing it as both an object of Muslim piety and an expression of glamorous fashion.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: African Expressive Cultures


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pp. 1-3


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p. 5-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-11

This volume grew out of a panel on veiling in Africa at the African Studies Association annual meeting in San Francisco in November 2010. The enthusiasm of the panelists and the interest of the audience encouraged me to invite others to contribute to an edited volume on this topic—which has been under-examined, at least, in the African context. I would like to ...

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Introduction: Veiling/Counter-Veiling in Sub-Saharan Africa

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pp. 1-12

MUCH HAS BEEN made of the practice of veiling in Europe, particularly in France and Great Britain (Asad 2006; Bowen 2007; Dwyer 1999; Scott 2005; Tarlo 2010; Werbner 2007), and to a lesser extent in Canada, Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia (Atasoy 2006; Brenner 1996; Çınar 2008; MacLeod 1991; Mahmood 2005). ...

Part 1 Veiling Histories and Modernities

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One: Veiling, Fashion, and Social Mobility: A Century of Change in Zanzibar

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pp. 15-33

"THE VEIL" HAS never been a static thing, nor have its use and meaning been firm. In this chapter, I explore changes in veiling habits in Zanzibar over the course of more than a century, illustrating both how and why the veil has changed over time. Though “the veil” is often condemned in the West as a sign of women’s subordination, here I illustrate that in Zanzibar ...

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Two: Veiling without Veils: Modesty and Reserve in Tuareg Cultural Encounters

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pp. 34-57

IN THIS CHAPTER, I analyze the power and vulnerability of a gendered cultural value that not only involves the literal wearing of veils, but also incorporates a more general respect, shame, and modesty, called takarakit in Tamajaq, the local Berber (Amazigh) language of the Tuareg residing in oases and towns of Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso. ...

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Three: Intertwined Veiling Histories in Nigeria

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pp. 58-81

VEILING IN NIGERIA—a practice which consists of wearing a cloth which may cover the head, body, and at times, the face, feet, and hands—reflects a complex set of social relationships that have religious, political, and historical dimensions. In Nigeria, Muslim women with different ethnic backgrounds wear a range of veiling styles. In the southwest, some ...

Part 2 Veiling and fashion

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pp. 94-103

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Four: Religious Modesty, Fashionable Glamour, and Cultural Text: Veiling in Senegal

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pp. 85-109

BY ITS METAMORPHOSIS from austere religious symbol into fashionable adornment, the veil in Senegal illustrates the power of fashion to transform social polarization into dialogical process. This process began in the 1990s, when Islamic sects from Iran and Saudi Arabia, quite foreign to the Sufi brotherhoods that compose most of Senegalese Islam, gained ...

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Five: Modest Bodies, Stylish Selves: Fashioning Virtue in Niger

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pp. 110-136

IN THE EARLY 1990s a wave of religious fervor swept through Niger, promoting the development of a “heightened self-consciousness” (Eickelman and Piscatori 1996:39) about what it meant to be Muslim. The sharpening of Muslim identity in turn translated into an unprecedented focus on dress codes and the fashioning of modest personae. Members of an emerging ...

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Six: "Should a Good Muslim Cover Her Face? ”Pilgrimage, Veiling, and Fundamentalisms in Cameroon

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pp. 137-161

THE ISSUE OF veiling in sub-Saharan Africa has received little attention. Perhaps that is because most women as well as men, Christians as well as Muslims, have used various types of head coverings as indicative of social distinctions as well as protection against the sun. However, in recent decades in Cameroon and elsewhere in Africa, veiling as a form of ...

Part 3 Veiling/Counter-Veiling

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Seven: Invoking Hijab: The Power Politics of Spaces and Employment in Nigeria

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pp. 165-185

THE FACT THAT changes in dress styles are taking place in Nigeria reflects perhaps the normal processes of change which occur in all societies. Yet these transformations, at both the macro-national and micro levels, differ as each reflects a unique experience. In Nigeria, women’s dress has increasingly become an object of contention at the macro level, more so ...

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Eight: "We Grew Up Free but Here We Have to Cover Our Faces”: Veiling among Oromo Refugees in Eastleigh, Kenya

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pp. 186-204

THE ADOPTION OF the veil among Oromo refugees living in Eastleigh, Kenya, one the largest urban refugee communities in Africa, is a recent phenomenon. Women feel increasing pressure to cover their heads and bodies in accordance with the practices of their Somali neighbors and fellow refugees. More and more, as instability and violence escalate, Oromo ...

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Nine: Vulnerability Unveiled: Lubna’s Pants and Humanitarian Visibility on the Verge of Sudan’s Secession

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pp. 205-223

IN JULY 2009, the transnational media circulated news about yet another grave human rights violation perpetrated by Sudan’s Islamist regime, the latest in a series of violent crimes against humanity.1 Lubna Al-Hussein, dubbed “the pants journalist” for wearing pants in public and hence countermanding the prevailing dress code of modest body covering, was ...

List of Contributors

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pp. 225-227


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pp. 229-238

E-ISBN-13: 9780253008282
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253008145

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 8 color illus., 31 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: African Expressive Cultures