Thursday, March 27, 2008

: Palestinian Scarves :

(Washington Square Park)
There has been debate about meanings surrounding the keffiyeh since it became a noticeable trend around 2005. Many see the scarf as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinians as they continue to struggle against occupation by Israel. But as the scarf becomes increasingly available, others wear it without realizing it's more than a fashion statement. The contest over meaning is doubly complicated because the scarf has reportedly been appropriated by anti-semitic groups in some parts of Europe. However, most who wear the scarf (consciously) denounce such associations, saying that the scarf is about support, not hate.

(Lower East Side)
This young man said he was just wearing the keffiyeh as a scarf, and he hadn't previously known of its association with Palestine. So is the scarf loosing its meaning or are people making a political statement without knowing it?

Really, any time we make a choice about clothing it is on some level political. Sometimes we make choices based on production, like avoiding fur or buying clothing we know wasn't made in a sweatshop. But simple aesthetic choices are also political -- most of us make fashion choices that conform either to mainstream standards or to the standards of a specific subculture (punk, ghetto, indie, etc.) or the more general counterculture.

Clearly the scarf carries an appeal for counterculture at large, and in that sense anyone who wears it understands a fraction of its meaning. Rather than resent the popularity of the scarf and those who wear it, people "in the know" should find a way to use the ubiquitous patterned cloth to raise awareness of what it represents, and the U.S.' involvement in the continued oppression of the Palestinian people.

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