Never in the history of human civilization has the veil, hijab or purdah become so much of a contentious issue. At the root of the contention, however, it has always been politics. This volume mainly focuses on South Asia, where the veiling of women has been a part of its age-old civilization, indeed, more as a marker of civility and not always from the standpoint of masculinity. But then in recent times, the territoriality of societies in the name of 'modern state' and the power of both patriarchy and masculinity reinforcing it made the veiling of women, in one form or another, an exercise in patriarchy, masculinity or gender politics, often crisscrossing national, ethnic, racial and religious boundaries, with women as its main victims. This volume attempts to overcome our 'ignorance' in so far as the veil is concerned. Demystifying the politics of veiling can certainly contribute to emancipatory politics in South Asia and beyond.
Imtiaz Ahmed is Professor of International Relations and Director, Centre for Genocide Studies at the University of Dhaka. His most recent publications are Historicizing 1971 Genocide: State versus Person (Dhaka: University Press Limited, 2009) and a co-edited volume titled: Contemporarising Tagore and the World (Dhaka: The University Press Limited, 2013).