The Miniskirt and the Veil

Islam, Secularism, and Women's Fashion in the New Europe

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Author: Kristen Ghodsee
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This article examines another European iteration of the headscarf debate, this time in postcommunist Bulgaria, the European Union member with the largest Muslim minority. Bulgaria is a country that has always been at a crossroads between East and West, and women's bodies and their fashion choices have increasingly become the symbols of the "backward Orient" or the "corrupt and decadent West" for those on either side of an ongoing national identity crisis. For the Orthodox Christian/Secular majority, the headscarf represents all that is troubling about the country's Ottoman past and Islam's presumed oppression of women. For a growing number of Bulgarian Muslims, the miniskirt has come to represent the shameless commodification of women's bodies and the moral bankruptcy of global capitalism.

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