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Aimee Sommerville

Title: Memorializing the Veil

Abstract: Throughout history, the use of the veil in Muslim cultures, in countries such as Algeria, has taken on a variety of meanings. During the period of colonialism, Westerners began viewing veils negatively and pressured Algerian women to remove them. It was the French-Algerian war that ultimately caused women to remove their veils, but not for the reasons that Westerners had hoped. Algerian women acted as aids to the Algerian rebel militia, the National Liberation Front’s terrorist activities,using their Westernized look to escape French suspicion. After the war, women began to re-veil, as a symbolic memorial of past Islamic ways and an act of rebellion against Western culture. This presentation will explain the original meaning of the veil in Islamic and Algerian culture. It will trace the reasons for un-veiling during the end of the colonial period and how re-veiling in Algeria serves as a memorial of traditional Islamic ways and as a symbolic rejection and backlash against colonialism.

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