The New Orientalists

An upcoming article talks about lenses used to describe the lives of Muslim women (via Law and Humanities Blog):

"Popular narratives produced from the west, particularly since 9/11,
perpetuate negative stereotypes about Middle Eastern Muslim women.
Native writers settled in the west also dish out heart-rending tales of
women's oppression in fundamentalist Islamic societies, targeting a
western audience long fed on tales of Islam's intolerance towards
women. These 'New Orientalist' narratives, portraying Muslim women as
hapless victims of Islamic fundamentalism, only serve to reinforce the
stereotypes entrenched in popular western imagination. With Azar
Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran as a case in point, this paper seeks
to examine how new orientalist narratives misrepresent the position of
women in Islamic societies. The paper concludes that bestsellers,
produced by native as well as western writers and touted as authentic
representations of life in the Middle East, mostly draw a black and
white distinction between western and Middle Eastern societies, depict
violence and discrimination against women as characteristic of Islamic
culture, and under-represent indigenous struggles for women's rights,
thereby covertly suggesting that western mediation is inevitable in
order to improve the condition of women in Middle Eastern societies."

This certainly seems an indictment of many works that have bestsellers in the US having to do with Muslim women. It will be interesting to see how the author outlines her argument.

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