Some comments

and reviews

Naked or Covered

 ‘A very good and accessible book about body coverings and shame. Highly recommended!'


‘Schipper’s book is a great read and gives fascinating insights.' Trouw


'Whoever thinks clothing is about a piece of cloth, knows better after reading this book.' Quest


‘A fascinating cultural history… nuanced and without any religion-bashing.' History magazine


'Given the large numbers of migrants in today’s world, it seems more important than ever to explore, in exactly the register that this book adopts, complex, competing traditions of being clothed and unclothed, covered and uncovered, their histories and turning points, retreats and reassertions. That is, if there is much chance of finding ways of living together across lines of difference in an increasingly securitized and defensive world. This is the sort of book you will read in a weekend because once you begin you won't be able to put it down. It is packed full with stories, anecdotes and mesmerizing cultural facts, animating a meticulously researched account of histories of human skin, looking and being looked at, and excitement and fear. Loved it!' Sarah Nuttall, Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies and Director of WISER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research), Johannesburg, South Africa


'With the discerning eye of an anthropologist, the literary flair of a novelist, and with sturdy common sense, Mineke Schipper guides us through millennia of remarkably diverse attitudes towards human dress and undress. Colorful, well-researched, and timely. Highly recommended.' Steven Shankman, UNESCO Chair in Transcultural Studies, Interreligious Dialogue, and Peace and co-director, UNESCO Crossings Institute, University of Oregon, USA


‘The book is extremely relevant for today’s world, as it explains the human history from the time humans walked around naked and occasionally painted and ornamented themselves, to the time when they started to cover themselves up, as a symbol of chastity, with religions dictating how one should be clothed… Throughout the book, Schipper has provided engaging anecdotes and historical interpretations that are indeed thought provoking.’ Times of India

'At a time when opening up of the global economy and advent of online retail has made dressing (fashionably) a compulsion, Naked or Covered digs deep into humanity’s history to understand why clothing is much more than just  a piece of cloth.' The Telegraph, India


‘Schipper unpacks various ways of seeing and being looked at, to offer a sweeping picture of how differently people in cultures around the world view the naked body. Part-historian, part-anthropologist, Schipper creates a well-researched and anecdotal account. From the history of loincloths, to the enforcing and banning of burqas, to Hassidic headgear and Facebook censorship, Schipper covers eras and continents with ease. She treats the body — robed and disrobed — as an archaeological site, layered with half-forgotten stories and ciphers to read contemporary politics of choice, gender equality, and censorship… Schipper’s project is a feminist one. By describing traditions of dressing and viewing the naked body, she asserts that in most cultures, women’s bodies have had to be the moral flag-bearers and, consequently, have been confined, devalued, and brutalised. Segregation of baths, imposition of veils, and the denial of the right to wear trousers are just a few of the examples Schipper draws on to emphasise that women are continually objectified and treated as both collective and personal property. She rebukes the patriarchal system enforced by religious leaders, husbands, brothers, and other women.’ The Hindu Business Line


‘A fascinating cultural history… nuanced and without any religion-bashing.' History Magazine


Mineke Schipper © 2018