The Hijab as Feminist Statement? - Bronwyn Winter

Professor Bronwyn Winter analyzes the hijab ban in France, weighing freedom of choice against sexual and class politics. "I can't see anywhere in the Koran where it says...all women must wear a hijab," says Winter.

The hijab is arguably the most discussed and controversial item of women's clothing today. It has become the primary global symbol of female Muslim identity for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and is the focus of much debate in the confrontation between Islam and the West. Nowhere has this debate been more acute or complex than in France.

In Hijab and the Republic, Bronwyn Winter provides a riveting account of the controversial 2004 French law to ban Islamic headscarves and other religious signs from public schools. While much has been written on the subject, Winter offers a unique feminist perspective, carefully delineating its political and cultural aspects.

Drawing on both scholarly literature and popular commentary, she examines the headscarf debate from its inception in 1989 through fluctuations in its intensity in public consciousness over the 1990s to its surging significance in the wake of 9/11 and the consequent shift in global politics.

Bronwyn Winter is a lecturer (professor) in the Department of French Studies at the University of Sydney. She identifies as a radical feminist political scientist and likes to stir up debate in the pursuit of what Somer Bodribb has called "the feminist potential to make sense." Her publications focus on such themes as culture and consent in human rights discourse on women, the politics of race and culture, issues in women's political representation, what counts as feminist theory, and why what is generally known in the United States as "French feminism" has little if anything to do with what French feminism actually is.

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