Dissident Writings of Arab Women: Voices Against Violence analyzes the links between creative dissidence and inscriptions of violence in the writings of a selected group of postcolonial Arab women.
The female authors destabilize essentialist framings of Arab identity through a series of reflective interrogations and "contesting" literary genres that include novels, short stories, poetry, docudramas, interviews and testimonials. Rejecting a purist "literature for literature’s sake" ethic, they embrace a dissident poetics of feminist critique and creative resistance as they engage in multiple and intergenerational border crossings in terms of geography, subject matter, language and transnationality. This book thus examines the ways in which the women’s writings provide the blueprint for social justice by "voicing" protest and stimulating critical thought, particularly in instances of social oppression, structural violence, and political transition.
Providing an interdisciplinary approach which goes beyond narrow definitions of literature as aesthetic praxis to include literature’s added value as a social, historical, political, and cultural palimpsest, this book will be a useful resource for students and scholars of North African Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Francophone Studies, and Feminist Studies.
Brinda J. Mehta is the Germaine Thompson Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Mills College in Oakland, California, where she teaches postcolonial African and Caribbean literatures, contemporary French literature, and transnational feminist theory. She is the author of; Notions of Identity, Diaspora and Gender in Caribbean Women’s Writing (2009); Rituals of Memory in Contemporary Arab Women’s Writing (2007); and Diasporic (Dis)locations: Indo-Caribbean Women Writers Negotiate the Kala Pani (Winner of the Frantz Fanon Award, 2007).
Brinda Mehta’s Dissident Writings of Arab Women: Voices against Violence is a timely engagement with an understudied topic. Focusing in particular on the diaspora and sites of displacement, she brings into the discussion of feminist dissent a powerful insight that is substantiated throughout with blueprint material and documentation. Going beyond the condescending manner that blighted a portion of the feminist critique, she delves into writings and documents that present Arab women’s struggle through art, literature , and other public sphere activity to interrogate forms and types of violence that have targeted women populations. But rather than devising ethnic and genderic divides, the effort in this book is focused on manifestations of violence as strategies and methods that cannot be seen outside the colonial and imperial onslaught. The postcolonial scriptoria is expanded and enriched beyond the colonial encounter. Building up its strong argument across languages and borders, this book is a serious and well-documented contribution to the study of feminist dissent.
Muhsin al-Musawi, Professor of Arabic Literature, Columbia University