The French Education Minister's attempt to ban the Muslim veil from public schools in 1994 renewed familiar tensions between Muslims and the French state-tensions that originated in France's colonial era. I argue that in 1994 the veil became the site of a power struggle between French-Muslims and the French state by virtue of a complex politics of seeing and being seen. The philosophical concept of “the visible,” moreover, reveals the extent to which this politics of seeing constitutes a heretofore unexamined form of rhetoric as epistemic. Such a form of rhetoric makes different subjects known to one another and establishes differential power relations through what is seen and how it is seen. I ultimately conclude, concerning rhetoric's epistemic function, that ways of knowing through seeing form a necessary complement to ways of knowing through speech.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics