The 'Veil': a Theoretical Tool to Turkish National Ideologies

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The ‘veil’, in both its literal meaning as well as its metaphorical usage, is useful in elucidating the ideological distinctions between women in Turkey. In Turkey, the 'veil' has been generally referred to as the ‘politicization of the headscarf’ ever since the 1980s. This 'secularist' approach interprets the widespread usage of the headscarf as a purely political performative act rather than a religious one. However, I argue that both the presence and absence of the ‘veil’ have, in the 20th century, indicated certain ideological elements in Turkish society and politics. The 'veil' has been a tool to explain the relation between the ‘modern’ woman and Turkish secularism, modernity and Islam. Therefore, the political dimension of the 'veil' writes and marks female bodies with a transparent ideology by employing the 'veil' as a potent symbol either in its absence (physical transparency) or presence (physical coverage).

Keywords: Veil, Gender, Modernity, Islam
Stream: History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: The Absence & Presence of the ‘Veil’ and National Ideologies of Turkey

Cigdem Bugdayci

PhD Candidate, Religious Studies, ASCA (Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis), University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands

I have my B.A. in English Language and Literature from Bogazici University, my M.A. in Cultural Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. Currently, I am a PhD candidate in ASCA, in the University of Amsterdam. I have received the Huygens Scholarship by the Netherlands Cultural Ministry. I am working on the Turkish drama series on television and am interested in the depiction of the 'modern' woman in Turkey and her relation to the 'sacred'.

Ref: H08P0091