The Affective Power of the Face Veil: Between Disgust and Fascination

Annelies Moors

in Things

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239450
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823239498 | DOI:

Series: Future of the Religious Past (FUP)

The Affective Power of the Face Veil: Between Disgust and Fascination

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This chapter delves into the feelings of discomfort, disgust, and fear evoked by the Islamic face veil in the Netherlands, negative affects that are discursively triggered in a cultural and political climate that insists on Muslims' cultural assimilation. Even though Islamic women in the Netherlands wear niqabs rather than burqas, the latter has become the preferred label in public debate. This has created an association with Afghanistan, the Taliban, radical Islam, and the oppression of women, even though such an interpretation is at odds with the motivations of those who actually choose to wear the face veil. At the same time, in popular visual imagery (government campaigns, film posters, etc.) the veil is used not to signify Muslim women's suppression but rather to draw attention to seductive and exotic Oriental bodies or (e.g., in cartoons) to mock the asexual public presence at which the wearing of the face veil aims.

Keywords: Public sphere; Public debate; Netherlands; Islamic women; Face veil; Niqab; Burqa; Orientalism

Chapter.  7288 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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