In my modern European history class, I actually had a chance to learn quite a bit about these Algerian women. As Fanon describes, the veil quickly acquired political connotations during the liberation movement. This effort backfired, however, when Algerian women instead clung to their veils as a means of resisting colonial and imperialist interference. When Algerian women did unveil, they did so on their own terms. Unveiled, Algerian women more easily passed for Europeans, becoming an important force of resistance as portrayed in The Battle for Algiers. As the French began to catch on to this tactic, Algerian women returned to the veil, surreptitiously hiding explosives underneath.
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The veil appeared to stir a profound and visceral orientalism on the part of the French occupier. The veil maintained an ambiguous status in the mind of the coloniser. It was read as a convenient confirmation of all the most pernicious stereotypes about Algerians in particular and Arabs in general.
In turn these features were used to justify the occupation: such people were begging to be colonised. But the veil also stirred darker and less comfortable assertions on the part of the settlers. In its very hiddenness the veil strikes at the less confident aspects of the colonial society. Behind the veil the thoughts of the women are unknowable: she could be observing the colonial administration with contempt, calmly plotting its downfall rather than pliantly accepting its reign! Fanon inverts the veil and shows how by fighting the French, women also asserted their place in Algerian society, and by virtue of struggle struck at both the mystifications of the colonial project and patriarchy in their own country.
The veil becomes a badge of an insurgent modernity: hidden grenades, slipping through the checkpoints, invisibly as a weapon. The colonial obsession with ordering and with ensuring the visibility of the dominated tells us much about the problematic shackling of human progress with aggressive imperialism.
The profound hypocrisy of justifying occupation under the name of enlightenment, saving the benighted natives from their atavistic cultures and liberating them from the burden of their natural resources is made clear in the reaction to the veil.
It shifts the rules of the game and empowers the allegedly placid. One of the foundational myths of European colonialism was the idea that it was only they who understood the primacy of individual freedom. While people of the South, were used to living under despotisms, and stagnant, conformist cultures, it was only in Europe that the right to privacy and freedom of expression were ensured and internalized.
In this we see a picture of discreet bourgeoisie honeycombs of self expression in which people are free to their own thoughts. The extent to which the veil invokes a sense of paranoia, and was perceived as a kind of inexplicable subversion, punctures this myth. Progress is useful when it serves to justify extraction and domination but the lip service stops once the colonised actually start to embody concrete freedom through the process of resistance.
The profound hypocrisy also extends to the claims that colonialism was in some respects a project motivated by a genuine concern for the emancipation of women. In this rubric Arab and African women are crying out for saviours: their oppression is so deeply entrenched that at first they may not even realise that they are in desperate need of assistance!
Such a confused moral geography is still at play within contemporary imperialist adventures. The continued military involvement in Afghanistan is sometimes legitimated in terms of ensuring a better future for Afghan women. However the daily violence which Afghan women live under by virtue of the continued occupation is treated in a very different light. Rather than brutal instruments of destruction, the technology of war is presented as an instrument of progress.
In reality, the war has emboldened viscous forms of patriarchy. As former Afghan politician Malalai Joya wrote in Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region….
Like many other Afghans, I risked my life during the dark years of Taliban rule to teach at underground schools for girls. Today the situation of women is as bad as ever. Victims of abuse and rape find no justice because the judiciary is dominated by fundamentalists. A growing number of women, seeing no way out of the suffering in their lives, have taken to suicide by self-immolation.
As Fanon recognised the language of humanism and progress is one of the best packages for projects of reaction. The occupied country or city becomes a playground for phobias, for sadism. While generals and presidents use the high-minded language of progress, the troops and functionaries on the ground are encouraged to take a more liberal approach to brutality and violence.
Occupation becomes a conduit for the most basic and viscous of human impulses: torture, dehumanization, sexual assault. In reality the army encouraged this kind of violence against Iraqi prisoners.
Fanon recognises that behind the siren song of progress lies the daily reality of imperialism in which casual violence becomes a major lubricant of the machinery of occupation. It is this veil which we must continually pierce as we struggle to ensure that noble words are not used as a velvet glove for the iron fist of contemporary power politics.
No one among us in November , no one in the world, suspected that after sixty months of fighting, French colonialism would still not have released its clutch and heeded the voice of the Algerian people. Five years of struggle have brought no political change. The French authorities continue to proclaim Algeria to be French. This war has mobilized the whole population, has driven them to draw upon their entire reserves and their most hidden resources.
Frantz Fanon (1925 - 1961): His Life and Legacy: About Frantz Fanon
Fanon algeria unveiled pdf Colonialism1 would have made Fanon a permanent Marxist requirement. Algerian society by means of unveiled women aiding and sheltering the occupier. Page 1. In the course of his work as economist december pdf a physician and psychiatrist, Fanon supported the Algerian War of Independence from France, and was a member of the Algerian. Page