(Un-)veiling the west: Burkini-gate, Princess Hijab and dressing as struggle for postsecular integration


  • Linda Berg Umeå centre for gender studies (UCGS), Umeå university
  • Mikela Lundahl Gothenburg University




Veils, Un/veiling, France, Secularity, Burkini-gate, Princess Hijab, Integration, Freedom


The ban of the burkini in the summer of 2016 in France is the latest stage in a long political history, where the French depreciation or fear of the veil, and of Islam, has come to play a more significant role since the end of the cold war. Unveiling female bodies at the beach in Nice expose conditioned values of the French republic. In this context, drawing black veils on public advertisements becomes a performative act commenting on consumerism, religion, secularity, and the imagined Muslim woman. In this article we discuss freedom and integration in “third spaces” via an analysis of “hijabisation” in street art and the official reactions against certain types of beachwear. In line with Talal Asad (2006) we want to raise the issue on how the secular state addresses the pain of people who are obliged to give up part of their religious identity to become acceptable. Race-thinking was once an explicit part of celebrated values like modernity, secularity, democracy and human rights. However, the fact that the idea of races has been erased from articulations of Western nations and international bodies does not mean that traces of race-thinking in the heritage from the enlightenment are gone. By following Princess Hijab and the “Burkini-gate” a nationalist fantasy intertwined with the idea of the secular state reveals itself and acts of un/dressing emerge as signs of integration revealing a challenged imperialist paradigm.

Author Biographies

Linda Berg, Umeå centre for gender studies (UCGS), Umeå university

Dr Linda Berg, senior lecturer in Gender Studies at Umeå University 

Mikela Lundahl, Gothenburg University

Dr Mikela Lundahl, History of Ideas, senior lecturer at School of Global Studies


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