"(Un) Privileged Embodiments of Femininity, (Un) Hegemonic Articulations of Desire: The Shifting Grounds of the New Veiling Trend in Jordan"
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines the new veiling trend as it is embodied by Jordanian Muslim women. It approaches veiling in terms of being an experience of femininity and desire and unpacks its complex bodily implications. I place the emphasis on one of the trend’s increasingly popular manifestations in particular; namely, the fashionable veiling. By accentuating their bodies and actively engaging the male gaze, fashionably veiled women negotiate the Quranic and cultural limits of the practice and turn it into a fashion-based and desire affirming body project. In addition to engaging the embodiment of the practice, the dissertation explores its shifting conceptualization and the discourses that shape the different forms of Muslim femininity in the country. Alongside Muslim veiling, the dissertation examines Muslim non-veiling as another important constituent of the project of Muslim femininity in Jordan. By exploring Muslim veiling and non-veiling simultaneously, the research draws attention to the interconnectedness of these body projects and underscores the stakes and contingent privileges that accompany a woman’s decision to embody one but not the other. To explore these aspects, I used the theoretical frameworks of Smith, Foucault, Butler, and Mahmood among others and conducted one-to-one semi-structured in-depth interviews with fifteen veiled and non-veiled Jordanian Muslim women. Starting from the participants’ narratives, I argue that the forms of veiling that are gaining hold in Jordan challenge the Quranic conceptualization of the practice as well as the hegemonic expressions of desire in Islam, but only to a limited extent. While transgressive, these forms reinforce the structures that stand behind the practice and do not disrupt the sexual politics embedded in it.