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The codes of modesty: reconfiguring the Muslim female subject

By Noor Al-Qasimi


This study addresses the relationship between the veil and the constitution of what I have tenned the Muslim female subject in the field of visual and popular culture, with a special emphasis on film. My case-studies range from European historical texts to contemporary visual culture and social practices with reference to the Middle East. The study draws on postcolonial and feminist literature to explore the productions of the Muslim female subject within the discourses of (post)colonialism, nationalism and Islamic patriarchy. It examines the Muslim female subject in relation to the paradigms of veiling and unveiling in a cross-cultural yet context-specific differentiated analysis. The aim is to interrogate the mobility of the veil and the manner in which it can be evaded, substituted or transferred without transgressing the codes of Islamic female modesty. It identifies different manifestations of the veil's mobility, which I contend challenge Islamic hegemonic discourses whilst simultaneously transcending the colonialist paradigm of unveiling. The material I discuss ranges from (de-)colonial cinematic texts, Iranian cinema and advertising for Saudi Arabian Television. I look at canonical texts such as Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers (1966) and Abbas Kiarostami's 10 (2002) in view of their significance in scholarship relating to the Muslim female subject within film studies. I also examine manifestations of the veil in the field of fashion and make extensive reference to paradigmatic representations of the Muslim female subject in contemporary art and curatorial projects

Topics: HQ, BP, PN1993
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  3. (2002). One Woman Lifts Her Veil on Her Islamic Life. ' In Los Angeles Times,

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