The Political Psychology of the Veil

The Impossible Body

  • Sahar Ghumkhor

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political Psychology book series (PSPP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Sahar Ghumkhor
    Pages 1-33
  3. Sahar Ghumkhor
    Pages 35-72
  4. Sahar Ghumkhor
    Pages 117-161
  5. Sahar Ghumkhor
    Pages 163-202
  6. Sahar Ghumkhor
    Pages 203-252
  7. Sahar Ghumkhor
    Pages 253-262
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 263-274

About this book


Veiled women in the West appear menacing. Their visible invisibility is a cause of obsession. What is beneath the veil more than a woman? This book investigates the preoccupation with the veiled body through the imaging and imagining of Muslim women. It examines the relationship between the body and knowledge through the politics of freedom as grounded in a ‘natural’ body, in the index of flesh. The impulse to unveil is more than a desire to free the Muslim woman. What lies at the heart of the fantasy of saving the Muslim woman is the West’s desire to save itself. The preoccupation with the veiled woman is a defense that preserves neither the object of orientalism nor the difference embodied in women’s bodies, but inversely, insists on the corporeal boundaries of the West’s mode of knowing and truth-making. The book contends that the imagination of unveiling restores the West’s sense of its own power and enables it to intrude where it is ‘other’ – thus making it the centre and the agent by promising universal freedom, all the while stifling the question of what freedom is.

Sahar Ghumkhor teaches and researches in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia.


Lacanian psychoanalysis Islamophobia Muslim woman war on terror racial violence veiled woman the Other lifting the veil images of Muslim women the West the secular body feminist politics discourse on the Muslim woman lived experiences freedom image of violence veiling unveiling postcolonial theory emancipatory politics

Authors and affiliations

  • Sahar Ghumkhor
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social and Political SciencesThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

Bibliographic information