Artistic Statement: Dr. Manal Hamzeh


manal hamzeh | Silk Road Cultural CenterThe journey of creating the animated film The Four Hijabs began in Chicago in 2006 as a series of conversations with playwright Jamil Khoury. Khoury and Malik Gillani, both dear friends of mine, co-founded Chicago's Silk Road Rising, a politically activist theatre and film company that I'm enormously proud to be associated with.

Through deep critical engagement with the main ideas in my 2012 book, Pedagogies of DeVeiling: Muslim Girls and the Hijab Discourse, Khoury and I began to adapt my scholarly work into an accessible, entertaining, character-driven script. The strength of this collaboration lies in its pairing of an academic/researcher with an artist/producer as co-writers and political allies, coupled with the dynamic creative team and community of actors that Silk Road Rising assembled. Our collaboration has yielded, as a culmination of numerous insights and discoveries made together, a work that honors my theoretical ideas while advancing understanding of the effects of hijabophobia and Islamophobia on young Muslims, particularly in North America.

The Four Hijabs represents our commitment to making important, cutting-edge academic thought accessible to a general public. This animated film brings to the forefront a timely dialogue about the implications out-of-context misinterpretations of the Quran have on women's lives and bodies, and I am thrilled at the prospect of The Four Hijabs inspiring a wide range of learners who may then begin to reread and question the Quran, to discuss complex ideas surrounding the loaded topics that control expressions of their muslimness, and, ultimately, to imagine a world that exists beyond androcentric historiography.

The Four Hijabs has been a journey of friendship, solidarity, inspiration, questions, joy, trust, sincerity and imagination, and I look forward to the conversations it is poised to incite.

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