I shall dream

“The woman who sees without being seen frustrates the coloniser.” (Franz Fanon)

These words of Ibrahim Frantz Fanon still carry considerable weight as we attempt to decipher why the world still holds on to imperial feminism and denies Muslim Women freedom, safety, equal opportunities, and education by forcing them to unveil. During Algeria’s War of Independence against the French, local women perceived the hijab as a marker of identity and tool of struggle against a colonizer ‘committed to destroying the people’s originality and under instructions to bring about the disintegration, at whatever cost, of forms of existence likely to evoke a national reality directly or indirectly’ (Fanon 1994: 36). 

The idea that Muslim women need saving can be traced back to well-choreographed unveiling ceremonies in 1958 by French colonial generals seeking to keep Algeria under French colonial control. They not only represented the social spectacle of ‘westernisation’ but were also part of the entertainment industry, for which the Muslim women were exploited as a phantasm of power exertion. The Women went out onto the street in their traditional Haik (حايك)  attire as a protest against the colonial rulers. This is how the revolution was sustained. Arundhati Roy emphasises the importance of supporting women’s autonomy in their choice of clothing. She highlights incidents where Muslim schoolgirls in India were physically intimidated for wearing hijabs and argues that both the strict enforcement and prohibition of the hijab are about controlling and policing women rather than the hijab itself. The lamp also features a drawing of Afreen Fatima, a student activist who has led protests against bans on the hijab, despite facing arrests and having her house demolished by authorities in 2022.


Lamp: sandblasted and silk-screen printed genuine antique glass, hair;

height: 175cm/ width: 50cm

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