Questioning the Monolithic Representation of Veiled Women: A Postcolonial Feminist Analysis

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Dr. Asma Aftab
Sabir Hussain


The article attempts to reflect and question the fixed and static representation of the practice of veiling in a personal narrative of an Afghan woman, entitled Zoya’s Story: An Afghan Woman’s Struggle for Freedom, published in 2002 in the backdrop of Taliban’s rule with their proverbial misogyny and ruthlessness. Contextualized within the broader framework of postcolonial feminism, our argument attempts to locate a range of theoretical debates and concerns about veiling, both as a cultural practice and identity-marker, which is linked, directly or indirectly, with the position of Muslim women in their specific socio-political contexts. A critical reading of the contents of text has demonstrated that the discursive representations of veiling and veiled woman in the delimited text is not free from western condescension as it tends to relegate and marginalize Muslim women without appreciating their subjective and collective identity. Rather in representing Afghan woman’s life and agency in the backdrop of war and Talibanization, the narrative voice seems to flatten the myriad experiences of Afghan women by failing to offer a more nuanced and context-specific explanation of veiling vis-à-vis Afghan culture. The article concludes by emphasizing the need to create a more tolerant and inclusive feminist discourse that is both sensitive and responsive to the lived experiences and socio-historical realities of Afghan women in particular and Muslim women in general in their distinct cultural context.


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Aftab, A., & Hussain, S. (2021). Questioning the Monolithic Representation of Veiled Women: A Postcolonial Feminist Analysis. NUML Journal of Critical Inquiry, 18(II), 12–24.