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Contemporary issues and conundrums, such as modesty and security, oppression, liberation, freedom of expression, and worship, are addressed, as are spirituality, the arts, and magic.A collection by exclusively women writers seems appropriate considering that the veil is commonly associated with females and seems to have a kind of feminine pulse.In the first section, the essays generally speak to the veil in its sacred aspects, not as some immutable entity (or sacred cow), but as that which is cherished as an ancient custom or signifier of devotion.

is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only.All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (This book is divided into three sections that are simply numbered and not titled.The nature of these essays and the collection’s objective make it nearly impossible to organize by, for example, region, chronology, or studies versus personal accounts.My hope is that this unique group ethnography will be transformative and eye-opening and help to alter superficial, exploitative, or hidebound points of view.

Some of the chapters in this book—including the visual essays by graphic novelists Marjane Satrapi and Sarah C.

Writers speak not only to Islam but to Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity—which all taught submission through veiling (variously, and including that of men and objects)—and also to veiling in pre-Abrahamic traditions, as well as to masking and magico-religion, for there is much more to sacredness than is necessarily found in institutionalized faiths.2 The second section addresses the veil in its sensual aspects, not as “profane” (the irreverent opposite of sacred), but as it relates to the physical, to body/spirit, and to feelings.

The chapters here stretch from Shireen Malik’s “She freed and floated on the air,” a scrutiny of how the story of Salome’s dance of the seven veils developed into a notorious icon of carnality and the Oriental woman (and then the belly dance), to Michelle Auerbach’s memories of her struggles with Jewish orthodoxy in “Drawing the Line at Modesty,” and to Rita Stephan’s “Virtue and Sin,” describing the social, moral, and cross-cultural pressures (and pleasures) of growing up in mostly Muslim Syria as an Arab Christian.

Bell—reflect personal experience with the veil; others take an overarching, investigative approach.

The historically and politically based essays are intended to “converse” with the memoir-based chapters—as are the many images ranging from photojournalism to cartoons—so that the mix can enlarge our fields of vision and imagination (the veil has been nothing if not stimulus for the imagination).

In “Going the Whole Nine Yards,” Roxanne Kamayani Gupta speaks to, among other things, her own lyrical voyage of discovery in India, in the world of the sari, while in “Purdah, Patriarchy, and the Tropical Sun,” Jasbir Jain considers the segregation of Indian women from a pragmatic, literary, and sociological angle.