AbstractsPolitical Science

Framing the veil : from the familiar to the feared

by Deirdre Hayes

Institution: University of South Australia
Degree: PhD
Year: 2010
Keywords: Orientalism Western countries; Australian Government and Politics 160601 Culture, Gender, Sexuality 200205 Race and Ethnic Relations 160803 Multicultural, Intercultural and Cross-cultural Studies 200209 whiteness racism
Record ID: 1040598
Full text PDF: http://arrow.unisa.edu.au:8081/1959.8/160218


This thesis, Framing the Veil: From the Familiar to the Feared is about representation and the limits of representation. The foremost aim of this thesis is to examine the multiple meanings of the veil. This research is a critique of Western representations of the veil. It examines the way in which ‘frames’ have worked to reduce the veil to a one dimensional screen onto which stereotypes and misgivings have been projected in contemporary Western discourse. It considers how the attributes assigned to the veil in Orientalist discourse have persisted to inform and confine representations of the veil in contemporary media, political and cultural realms. The thesis incorporates two main aims. The first explores the strategies that determined the framing of certain knowledge formations regarding the veil within the parameters of ‘familiar’ from its early beginnings to contemporary moments. In addition it draws attention to the cultural-political shift in representations of the veil throughout Western discourse from the ‘normalcy’ of cultural practices and religious modesty, to the tenets of representation established by Orientalism. The second brings into focus the way in which Orientalist ideologies and imagery, vastly corresponded to and became increasingly consistent in the representations of the veil following the attack on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon on September 11 2001. Through an exploration of post September 11 political and media discourses, this research exposes the way in which the framing of the veil became situated in the Western world as ‘strange’ rather than ‘familiar’ and therefore feared. Although the representation of the veil, in the international realm of the media, political and public debate, since September 11 2001, has been considered, the focal point for this thesis is Australia. The case studies considered for analysing the inherent anxieties over the veil and veiling are located in the wake of 9/11, the Bali bombings and the Cronulla riots. These case studies have brought into view how the veil and veiled bodies circumscribed through a barrage of hegemonic discourse frames were represented as an unspoken form of terrorism, and by extension as a ‘threat’ against the cultural milieu of ‘white’ Australia.