When Arab Women Artists “Revisit The Harem”

Originally published here.  Where does parody end and self-exoticization begin? At what point does the Arab woman artist, stepping into the so-often imagined space of "The Harem" risk pandering to an audience that seems to have a never-ending appetite for remediations of Orientalist artwork? Lebanese photographer Rania Matar's wonderful and insightful A Girl in Her Room series (capturing teenage girls in their most sacred space, the bedroom) includes some photographs that are clearly posed to m … [Read more...]

A Thousand Shames

A Palestinian girl carries a Kalashnikov rifle during a victory parade for Islamic Jihad in Gaza City. (Photo credit: Wissam Nassar, New York Times)

This article was originally published at Sixteen Minutes to Palestine  by Sami Kishawi.Saying that this photograph recently resurfaced would imply that it had somehow gotten buried. But that is simply not true. Published for the New York Times just days after Israel pulled back on its most deadly assault on the Gaza Strip yet, the image sent and continues to send shockwaves around the world. What was a child doing in the middle of that victory rally? Why was the child outfitted with a g … [Read more...]

Hijab Removal, Iranian Women, and Freedom of Dress

Image via the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page.

This post was originally published at Aquila Style.The liberal feminist organisation Femen and its members’ naked breasts have had their media run. Now a more modest sort of uncovering is happening, this time in Iranian social media. Last month, London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad started a movement on Facebook and Twitter, translated as “My Stealth Freedom”, to highlight the “legal and social restrictions” faced by women in Iran.Secular and Muslim women all over Iran are p … [Read more...]

Book Review: I Am the Beggar of the World

Image via Slate.

Last month, I looked at Eliza Griswold and Seamus Murphy’s work profiling Afghan women poets particular form of poetry, the landay. Their work, as they presented it in an article on Slate, came across as nuanced and reflective (my own words) of Afghan women’s experiences. I was eager to review their book, I Am the Beggar of the World, which is available this month and was kindly provided by the publisher.Griswold worked with Pashtun women translators to find and present poems that would t … [Read more...]

Marilyn Monroe in a Burqa: Commentary or Cliché?

poster

Walking home recently, I rounded the corner from my apartment and noticed a poster that was banal and startling at the same time. I had previously written about the (mis)use of images of Muslim-looking women by Dutch non-profit organisations as an attention-grabbing device, which may or may not be related to the actual work being promoted. Here was another prime example: a film festival poster showing a pair of female legs and high heels peeking out under a blue burqa, blown about above a vent à … [Read more...]

Words and Images of Afghan Women Poets

Image via Slate.

Earlier this month, Slate featured a photography-poetry project, “The Secret Lives of Afghanistan’s Female Poets.” The photography-poetry collaboration stems from the work of journalist Eliza Griswold and photographer Seamus Murphy, who reported “Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry” for the New York Times magazine in 2012. Griswold and Murphy’s work will be published in a book, I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan, next month.In the New York Times articl … [Read more...]

Use a “Muslim Woman”: Reasserting Dutch Values 101

Source: Hivos.

A few weeks ago, I went to a small, local cinema in my city to catch a film. I’ve always liked going to this particular cinema because they screen international and independent films – a fresh change from the standard Hollywood fare at the bigger cinema.The film was about to start, so I quickly ducked into the ladies’. After I washed my hands, imagine my shock at seeing the following poster pasted behind the door:The text on the poster says (in Dutch): “This woman is a symbol for all … [Read more...]


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