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ThingsReligion and the Question of Materiality$
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Dick Houtman and Birgit Meyer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823239450

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.001.0001

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

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

(p.282) The Affective Power of the Face Veil: Between Disgust and Fascination

Annelies Moors

Fordham University Press

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

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