The veil and the visible

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30 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-139
Number of pages25
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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