Dr. Nadia Guessous (Assistant Professor and Interim Director of Feminist and Gender Studies) was recently published in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (Volume 45, Number 3, spring 2020).
Recognized as the leading international journal in women’s and gender studies, Signs is at the forefront of new directions in feminist scholarship. Signs publishes pathbreaking articles, review essays, comparative perspectives, and retrospectives of interdisciplinary interest addressing gender, race, culture, class, nation, and sexuality. Whether critical, theoretical, or empirical, articles published in Signs generate theories, concepts, analytical categories, and methodological innovations that enable new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing, and new ways of living.
Based on extensive fieldwork with founding members of the Moroccan feminist movement who come out of a leftist political tradition, “Feminist Blind Spots and the Affect of Secularity: Disorienting the Discourse of the Veil in Contemporary Morocco” provides an ethnography of leftist feminist aversion toward the hijab (modern headscarf) in contemporary Morocco. The article situates the preoccupation with the hijab among Moroccan secular feminists within a broader affective economy and civilizational discourse about the veil that contributes to its intensity and tenacity. It argues that this incitement to discourse about the hijab conscripts Moroccan secular-leftist feminists into a global moral panic that prevents them from engaging with veiled and nonsecular women on their own (diverse) terms or being in solidarity with them. It also keeps them conveniently invested in the Orientalist idea that feminism in places like Morocco requires vigilance against the threat of religion and tradition rather than the conscripting logics of colonialism, capitalism, and neoliberalism. In doing so, the article suggests that the discourse of the veil not only perpetuates notions of Western superiority and makes lives less livable for Muslim minorities in the West, it also keeps postcolonial feminists embroiled in the Western battle of the veil and estranged from each other.