Burning the Veil: The Algerian War and the "Emancipation" of Muslim Women, 1954-62

TitleBurning the Veil: The Algerian War and the "Emancipation" of Muslim Women, 1954-62
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMacMaster, Neil
Number of Pages432
PublisherManchester University Press

Burning the Veil draws upon sources from newly-opened archives, exploring the "emancipation" of Muslim women from the veil, seclusion and perceived male oppression during the Algerian War of decolonisation. The claimed French liberation was contradicted by the violence inflicted on women through rape, torture and destruction of villages. This book examines the roots of this contradiction in the theory of "revolutionary warfare," and the attempt to defeat the National Liberation Front by penetrating the Muslim family, seen as a bastion of resistance. Striking parallels with contemporary Afghanistan and Iraq, French "emancipation" produced a backlash that led to deterioration in the social and political position of Muslim women. This analysis of how and why attempts to Westernise Muslim women ended in catastrophe has contemporary relevance and will be important to students and academics engaged in the study of French and colonial history, feminism and contemporary Islam.

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