College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


Agamben, State of Exception, Headscarf affairs, France, Colonialism


My thesis is about how the veil in France has come to symbolize the emergence of a state of exception in a mondern, industrialized, multicultural society. I posit that far from being a new conversation, that France's contemporary discussion on veiling represents a legacy of a much older, colonial conversation about the politics of veiling and processes of French 'Othering'. This analysis problemitizes conceptions of French universalism insofar as it functions as a tool of governance. In this project, I analyze a contemporary part of this conversation documented in the report from the Stasi Commission that outlined the current status of the Republican values in relation to Islam. I link this to the colonial conversation on veling that took place in Algeria during colonization and the War for Independence. Finally, I place this long standing conversation in the intellectual context of states of exception. I argue that the conversation on veiling in France has to be read in its historicized context, which reveals the way that the French State supports the structural inequalities that are often found in former colonizing states.