Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
Can the veil be an instrument of feminist empowerment? Does veiled anonymity confer a degree of power to women? Starting from her own marriage ceremony at which she first wore a full veil, Rafia Zakaria explores how the physical reality of the veil as an object is catalyzed by the context of the wearer to produce new and unexpected meanings. Part memoir and part philosophical investigation, Veil unravels modernist assumptions that the seen is automatically the good and the free, while the veiled represents servility and subterfuge. Taking readers through personal encounters with the veil varying from France where it is banned to Iran where it is forced, Zakaria reveals how the veil's reputation as a pre-modern relic is being reconfigured to contest accepted ideas of meaning and morality. At the end, the veil emerges as an object transformed by post-modernity, whose myriad meanings can pose a collective challenge to the absolute truths of patriarchy.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
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