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Theory And Politics Of Relationality

On Monday, November 12, Theory and Politics of Relationality held a Carolina Seminar that discussed the relationship between notions of “the sacred,” and relationality.

The group continued the discussion on Monday, February 11, with a program on the politics of relationality and awe-based creativity. In this talk, conversation focused on what it means to live in an age of information, and develop an understanding of how to coexist with mobile devices and the internet. The group wrestled with the notion of an appreciation for life as sacred, and how to bring (or bring back) that sense of wonder into the arts. They considered how art can shift social imaginaries not to capture a stream of continuous information but to articulate and connect the information, weaving ideas and concepts across disciplines and practices.

Re-Orienting The Veil

reorienting the veilThe 2013 Duke-UNC Consortium Conference focuses on Muslim women’s veiling practices in transnationalcontexts.  The one and a half day conference provided a forum for an interdisciplinary discussion of the cultural, religious, historical and political meanings of the Muslim headscarf.  It was addressed to the NC scholarly communities, to undergraduate and graduate students as well as to NC K-12 and community college teachers and the public at large. The conference exhibited some of Todd Drake’sSelf Portraits of Muslim-Americans as well, and participants were invited to a tour and discussion of a study gallery at the UNC Ackland Art Museum ( that had been partly curated by the conference organizers on the theme of veiling. The conference further offered pedagogical resources to teachers who want to focus some class sessions on veiling such as Global Studies joint faculty member Banu Gökarıksel’s website on veiling and fashion (, and Global Studies joint faculty member Sahar Amer and Martine Antle’s revised pedagogical website “ReOrienting the Veil”  ( ).

Why this conference?

In the last four decades we have witnessed increasing social and religious conservatism in both Euro-American and Muslim-majority societies, juxtaposed with a global situation in which women’s right to wear the headscarf has become a touchstone for issues and debates of various kinds. The veil has become a topic of fiery political debates across the world in the last two decades with racial or religious profiling becoming more commonplace, while Muslims have also developed a burgeoning veiling fashion industry involving Muslim as well as non-Muslim designers and manufacturers. Today, companies that specialize in women’s “Islamic” fashion publish catalogues and organize fashion shows; internet sites sell products to Muslim women all over the world; Muslim women’s lifestyle magazines feature advice about fashion trends. These developments raise questions about the intersection veiling and fashion. The Muslim headscarf, or “veil,” has become the stuff of artistic production and religious debate. It features in visual art, caricature, literature, and stand-up comedy, always negotiated, invested with meaning, and contested. It is thus politically, socially, and intellectually imperative to gain a deeper understanding of what the dynamics of veiling are. Such an understanding promises to lead to a more complex view of Muslim women and of Islam in general, and it constitutes a necessary background to more productive and informed discussions over national and foreign policy and the role of religion in the public sphere.