Freedom from Violence, Freedom to Make the World: Muslim Women’s Memoirs, Gendered Violence, and Voices for Change in Germany
Abstract

Abstract:

In recent years several bestselling autobiographies in Germany have reinforced a discourse in which domestic violence in immigrant communities is attributed to a backward, Muslim culture. The media as well as the German state turn to authors such as Necla Kelek and Seyran Ateş as “experts” who claim the right to represent immigrant women’s concerns, but their prominence obscures activists’ attempt to end both domestic violence and forms of cultural racism. This article contextualizes these autobiographies in a larger discourse of modernity that presumes secularism serves to regulate violence. I then analyze the discursive strategies employed by Kelek and Ateş, and juxtapose their narratives with Fadela Amara’s description of the French group Ni Putes ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissives). I argue that the popularity of narratives portraying violence against women as necessarily and intrinsically a part of Islam functions to silence many activists of immigrant heritage, preventing effective activism against violence as well as productive alliances between groups fighting violence in multiple forms. (BMW)