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Dakkak, H. Mikulka, J.T. (2012). Palestinian Girls and the Multiple Meanings of Hijab. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 9(3):266-272.

(2012). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 9(3):266-272


Palestinian Girls and the Multiple Meanings of Hijab

Henia Dakkak, M.D., MPH and Joseph T. Mikulka, LCSW


From flappers to hippies in the twentieth century, to tattoos and piercings in the twenty-first, adolescent use of dress and the body to express their hopes for freedom and change are not new. Narcissistic pre-occupation with the changing adolescent body and its adornment is widely seen as a part of normative development (Springer, 1997). In addition, adolescent dress that conforms to specific counter-culture codes is often an expression of identity development (Nilan, 1992; Brandt, 1977; Forney and Rabolt, 1986). Springer (1997) also points out that these preoccupations of adolescence are often front and center in the face of violence.

Using this theoretical backdrop, the use of hijab, and other “traditional” forms of body covering amongst adolescent girls in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are explored, with an emphasis on the nature and variety of meanings that the popular dress may hold amongst girls in Gaza under siege. The authors do not see the phenomenon as either monolithically political or religious. Instead the authors will examine the ways in which, on the one hand, internal forces are individually elaborated and externalized in dress, and on the other hand, how dress may serve as a protective shield against powerful externalities, allowing the internal life to be preserved and to flourish.

The Palestinian Context

Background Information

In 2007, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) commissioned a “focus group discussions” study in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to ask young people about “working together to protect children in armed conflict” as part of the Garca Machel 10 year strategic review.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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