Not all Flesh is Sacred: Sexualized Piety and the Muslim Body

Presentation author(s)

Hana Roz Hassanpourgol ’20, McAllen, Texas

Major: Religious Studies


How have Western subscriptions to sexuality disrupted the veil’s sacrality? Scholars, activists, religious leaders, and journalists alike have all tried to make sense of the Islamic headscarf’s position in the contemporary world in which we live, which is one of rampant contention between the religious and the secular, the sacred from the profane, East and West, the agent and the agent-less, and so on. These particular binaries illustrate a rather intimate relationship between the domineering white and Western hegemony that prevails over not just the internal lives but also the physical bodies and flesh—often referred to as “colonized bodies”—that exist under such conditions. I am arguing that the ability to perform piety through veiling has become obstructed by way of sensory and epistemic tensions between East and West, flesh and gaze, sacrality and sin. To demonstrate this point, I queer the veil and its accompanying flesh through an examination of its role in pornography as popularized by the Lebanese-American adult film star Mia Khalifa in 2015.


Natalie Gummer

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