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Title:'My 'veil' does not go with my jeans': veiling, fundamentalism, education and women's agency in northern Cameroon
Author:Santen, Josť C.M. vanISNI
Year:2010
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Volume:80
Issue:2
Pages:275-300
Language:English
Geographic term:Cameroon
Subjects:female dress
fundamentalism
Islam
schooling
Links:https://doi.org/10.3366/afr.2010.0205
http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/africa_the_journal_of_the_international_african_institute/v080/80.2.van-santen.pdf
Abstract:This article demonstrates that the struggle over the Muslim 'veil' in public schools has also become a topic of debate in Cameroon. The author takes the life of a young woman, Maimouna, whose life she followed for 22 years, as a point of departure, and places it in its historical and social context. The author not only negotiates presuppositions about women and Islam in order to challenge notions of Muslim women as a homogeneous category, but also challenges the automatic association of Islam, fundamentalism and the debate on veiling. In this debate it is often taken for granted that women have no say over their own lives. The article shows not only that the wishes of diverse groups of women living in Muslim societies may vary, but also that in a single woman's life her views may change. The article explores how aspects of the new fundamentalist discourse come to the fore in the subject of veiling. Religious and political councils initiate the foundation of private Islamic schools that are built with money from Saudi Arabian NGOs. In these schools women may wear headgear, which they have to take off in public schools in accordance with the laic prescriptions of Cameroon's constitution. The incessant change of views on veiling is linked to local, national and international contexts, but in a different way at each level. The story of Maimouna indicates that modernity is gendered. In the fundamentalist discourse in Cameroon in which veiling has acquired significance, men opt for another type of school where veiling is allowed, while women opt for education. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]
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