“Even I Was Tempted”: The Moral Ambivalence and Ethical Practice of Veiling-Fashion in Turkey
Abstract:Veiling-fashion, with its array of brands and ever-changing styles, has been on the rise in Turkey in the past decade. Although the producers of these styles present them as the perfect melding of fashion and piety, our analysis of focus groups with consumers in Istanbul and Konya in 2009 shows that veiling-fashion is, in practice, rife with ambivalence. Veiling is undertaken in relation to the moral code of of Islam, but fashion, as consumption, works as part of an ever-shifting economy of taste and distinction. In Baudrillard's terms, veiling-fashion is morally ambivalent, caught between its function as modest covering according to Islam and its social signification. In their negotiation of this ambivalence, consumers of these styles turn veiling-fashion into an ethical practice, into part of how they form themselves in relation both to a moral code (Islam) and to the aesthetics, politics, and pleasures of their sociospatial environments. The ethical practice of veiling-fashion thus engages a complex spatial field of bodies, homes, streets, military or state spaces, and public arenas. Veiling-fashion consumers describe their daily practices in terms of a problem of self-governance, or the management of nefis, the bodily or material desires aroused by consumption and its display. In this management of nefis through the technology of veiling-fashion these women form themselves as subjects of ethico-politics in Turkey today.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2012-07-01