Haram in the Harem: Domestic Narratives in India and Algeria

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N. Y., 2009 - Literary Criticism - 118 pages
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Haram in the Harem focuses on the differences in nationalist discourse regarding women and the way female writers conceptualized the experience of women in three contexts: the middle-class Muslim reform movement, the Algerian Revolution, and the Partition of India. During each of these periods the subject of women, their behavior, bodies, and dress were discussed by male scholars, politicians, and revolutionaries. The resonating theme amongst these disparate events is that women were believed to be best protected when they were ensconced within their homes and governed by their families, particularly male authority, whether they were fathers, brothers, or husbands. The threat to national identity was often linked to the preservation of womanly purity. Yet for the writers of this study, Ismat Chughtai (1915-1991), Assia Djebar (1936-), and Khadija Mastur (1927-1982), the danger to women was not in the public sphere but embedded within a domestic hierarchy enforced by male privilege. In their fictional texts, each writer shows how women resist, subvert, and challenge the normative behaviors prescribed in masculine discourse. In their writings they highlight the different ways women negotiated private spaces between intersecting masculine hegemonies of power including colonialism and native patriarchy. They demonstrate distinct literary viewpoints of nation, home, and women's experiences at particular historical moments. The choice of these various texts reveals how fiction provided a safe space for female writers to contest traditional systems of power. Bringing into focus the voices and experiences of women - who existed as limited cultural icons in the nationalist discourse - is a common theme throughout the selected stories. This book showcases the fluidity of literature as a response to the intersections of gender, race, and nation.

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Contents

Alternative Domesticity in the South Asian
27
Discovering Homoerotic Desire in the Household of The Quilt
47
Conclusion
53
Copyright

6 other sections not shown

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About the author (2009)

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. She has since published eight eBooks including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women's friendships, Saving Peace. Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar and won several awards. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later is a literary romance set in Qatar and London; the novel was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013, a Finalist in the eFestival of Words, Best Novel category, and short listed for the New Talent Award for by the Festival of Romance 2012. Her third novel, The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life, the day to day dynamics between housemaids and their employers. After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha

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