Race, Culture, and Identity
Feminism and the Cultural and Racial Other
In some respects, the essay by Al-Saji on the politics of veiling in France is not new. It concludes by invoking many of the key thinkers in post-colonial theory. The article is indeed part of a larger set of writings on orientalismâ€”the idea that the West produced/produces the East as â€œthe otherâ€ in order to enable a clearer view of the West of itself. (Said 1978) Malek Alloula has wonderfully analyzed the sexual politics of the veil to French imaginations in his analysis of French postcards from Algeria in The Colonial Harem. In this article, Al-Saji joins that conversation in arguing that the laws and discourses about the veil which have taken place in French public culture since the 1990s, have very little to do actually with women who wear veils. Rather, Al-Saji argues that this fixation on the veil and by extension on Islam in France and elsewhere is a site where French intellectuals and politicians and feminists develop their understandings of normative French culture.
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