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Global and International Studies
In 1958, amidst the bloody and complex background of the Algerian War of Independence, colonial French officials began hosting what were referred to as unveiling ceremonies. Algerian Muslim women would stand in front of a crowd, announce their desire to be “liberated”, and remove their headscarf, urging others to do the same. The rousing ceremonies caught the attention of international journalists and inspired articles depicting French rule as progressive and civilizing for the “backward” nation. What few realized was just how staged the events were. In one case, a woman had agreed to participate only after French officials threatened to kill her brother, who was in police custody at the time. That woman, Monique Améziane, had never worn a veil in her life (MacMaster 134). In order to understand the ceremonies in the context of the historical period, it is critical to understand the longstanding forces behind them, such as orientalism, French colonialism, and the Algerian woman’s image. This paper explores the components that made such elaborate farces possible and considers why French officials believed they were necessary. A close analysis of visual materials relevant to the period and engagement with critical theories of colonialism and orientalism as they relate to the Muslim Algerian woman make this exploration and consideration possible. Finally, the relevance of the unveiling ceremonies in the modern day is discussed in connection with current world affairs.
Kostbade, Emily, "Unveiling the Other: A Commentary on Colonialism, Orientalism, and the Mission Civilisatrice" (2023). Honors Theses. 3706.
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