Muslim women are often the focus of debate when it comes to public conversations about Islam. Much of this centers on feelings and assumptions...

Muslim women are often the focus of debate when it comes to public conversations about Islam. Much of this centers on feelings and assumptions surrounding an object, the veil. Rafia Zakaria, journalist and author, unravels the complex nexus of attitudes, policies, and histories revolving around this object in her fascinating new book, Veil (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017). She demonstrates how the object can serve as a moral delineator, a disciplinary measure, a signifier of goodness, or as a means to subvert or rebel social norms. Through personal narratives and detailed analysis of various social and political conditions Zakaria offers an engaging and nuanced assessment of the veil in the contemporary context. In our conversation we discussed notions of the exotic Orient, colonization, representation in photography and painting, prostitution, veiling in legal contexts, public aesthetics, violence, forms of feminism, contextual meaning-making, and much more.


Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha. He is the author of Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Cinematic Lives of Muslims, and is the editor of the forthcoming volumes Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (ILEX Foundation) and New Approaches to Islam in Film (Routledge). You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at [email protected].

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