Islamic Veiling in Xinjiang: The Political and Societal Struggle to Define Uyghur Female Adornment
journal contributionposted on 30.11.2020, 06:12 by James Leibold, T Grose
© 2016 by The Australian National University. All rights reserved. The Islamic veil is arguably the most politicized piece of fabric in the world, eliciting heated debate over its significance and complex meanings. The over 10 million Muslim women in China have their own histories and cultures of veiling. This article explores the ongoing struggle between the Chinese Communist Party and Xinjiang’s Uyghur Muslim minority over the right to define what is “appropriate” and “normal” female adornment. New styles of veiling have entered China from abroad, intensifying the controversy over the scope of Uyghur ethnic attire. We contrast the party-state’s antiveiling campaign to eliminate popular styles in Xinjiang, with the diverse reasons and meanings Uyghur women and men attach to them. While the party-state strives to control and standardize Uyghur dress, the community itself responds, sometimes defiantly, with a complex registry of veiling practices that reflect everything from ethnonational resistance, increased religious faith, and global Islamic haute couture.