Algeria%20Unveiled

Algeria%20Unveiled - Frantz Fanon A Dying Colonialism 1...

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Frantz Fanon 1 A Dying Colonialism Algeria Unveiled The way people clothe themselves, together with the tradi- tions of dress and finery that custom implies, constitutes the most distinctive form of a society's uniqueness, that is to say the one that is the most, immediately perceptible. Within the gen- eral pattern of a given costume, there are of course always modi- fications of detail, innovations which in highly developed soci- eties are the mark of fashion. But the effect as a whole remains homogeneous, and great areas of civilization, immense cultural regions, can be grouped together on the basis of original, spe- cific techniques of men's and women's dress. It is by their apparel that types of society first become known, .whether through written accounts and photographic records or motion pictures. Thus, there are civilizations without neckties, civilizations with loin-cloths, and others without hats. The fact of belonging to a given cultural group is usually revealed by clothing traditions. In the Arab world, for example, the veil worn by women is at once noticed by the tourist. One may remain for a long time unaware of the fact that a Moslem does not eat pork or that he denies himself daily sexual' relations during the month of Ramadan, but the veil worn by the women appears.with such constancy that it generally suffices to charac- terize Arab society. In the Arab Maghreb, the veil belongs to the clothing tradi- tions of the Tunisian, Algerian, Moroccan and Libyan national societies. For the tourist and the foreigner, the veil demarcates 35
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.... ~ .. ' ...... ..... ---.- - - 36 A DYING COLONIALISM both Algerian society and its feminine component. 1 In t~e case of the Algerian man, on the other hand, regiona~ modifications can be noted: the fez in urban centers, turbans and djellabas 2 in the countryside. The masculine garb a!lows a certain margin of choice, a modicum of heterogeneity. The woman seen in her white veil unifies the perception that one has of AlgerIan fern i- nine society. Obviously what we have here is a uniform which tolerates no modification, no variant. s The hark" very clearly demarcates the Algerian colonized soci- ety. It is of course possible to remain hesitant before a little girl, but all uncertainty vanishes at the time of puberty. With the veil, things become well-defined and ordered. The Algerian woman, in the eyes of the observer, is un~istakably "she who hides behind a veil." We shall see that this veil, one of the elements of the tradi- tional Algerian garb, was to become the bone of contention in a grandiose battle, on account of which the occupation forces 1 We do not here consider rural areas where the woman is often un- veiled. Nor do we take into account the Kabyle woman who, except in the large cities, never uses a veil. For the tourist who rarely ventures into the mountains, the Arab woman is first of aU one who wears a veil. This originality of the Kabyle woman constitutes, among others, one of
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Algeria%20Unveiled - Frantz Fanon A Dying Colonialism 1...

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