Date: 04 Sep 2013

‘Veiled for Day’: Social Justice Experiments and Race Pedagogies

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Abstract

This chapter describes a social justice experiment, called “Veiled for a Day,” that aimed at challenging students’ assumptions about our so-called “post-racial” society. Invoking an iconic signifier of cultural differences, the veil or hijab, and its controversial cultural, religious, and political meanings in an increasingly Islamophobic public sphere, this experiment sought to foster in these students the need for critical reflection on and revaluation of their own cultural norms, identities, and values within the imbrication of individual identity (difference), intersubjective relations (privilege and inequality), and socio-cultural institutions (sites where privilege and inequality are reproduced). This experiment demonstrates that to be effective, race pedagogies in the twenty-first century must be able to encourage students to develop not only their moral imagination and empathy for the Other, but also their competency to examine the power differentials between Self and Other within existing geopolitical conflicts that implicate them as well.