Muslim Women in War and Crisis
Representation and Reality
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Texas Press
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Note from the Editor: Transliteration and Key Terms
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The transliteration of Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Bengali, and Bosniak has been preserved exactly as submitted by the contributors to this collection. Variations on the same word—for example, hejab and hijab—appear in these essays, kept in the original to acknowledge various differences in pronunciation, spelling...
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This volume reflects a deep interest in the politics of “image” and the ways in which images dominate and seduce by investing power in particular signifiers, tropes, and descriptions. The multivoiced text, written by scholars and journalists from across the world, revolves around dual themes: the reality and the representation of women caught in war and crises. What ties...
Part One: Central and South Asia
1. Indonesia. The Peace Brokers: Women of Aceh and Ambon
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This chapter explores the role of women during the conflict and postconflict eras in Indonesia’s Aceh province and in Ambon, the capital city of Maluku.1 Moreover, it examines the peacemaking roles of Christian and Muslim women who have promoted harmony and worked to eliminate existing prejudice in their communities. It also concentrates on the wide range of...
2. India. Nation and Selfhood: Memoirs of Bengali Muslim Women
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During periods of political and social upheaval, new and often unforeseen opportunities arise from the disruption of the status quo. This chapter focuses on the creation of Muslim women’s political agency in India, beginning with the mid-nineteenth-century anticolonial struggle and culminating with the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan...
3. Afghanistan. From Refugee Camp to Kabul: The Influence of Exile on Afghan Women
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Between 1980 and 1990, some 6 million Afghan citizens fled their homeland, primarily in the direction of Iran and Pakistan. By 1990, there were 3,274,000 officially registered refugees living in Pakistan (another 500,000 to one million were unaccounted for).1 Seventy percent of refugees resided in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).2 Urban refugees systematically...
4. Afghanistan. Gendered Aid Interventions and Afghan Women: Images versus Realities
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Gender policies do not operate in a sociopolitical vacuum. In the wake of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, women’s issues have become highly contested and politicized, yet there is a dearth of research and analysis on the formulation, intent, implementation, and effects of gender-focused aid. It may be argued that Afghanistan’s particularly high-profile focus on women...
5. Chechnya. "Black Widows" in the New York Times: Images of Chechen Women Rebels
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The Chechen struggle for independence from the Russian Federation has resulted in a seemingly new brand of terrorist: the “black widow.” This term, coined by the news media, is used to describe Chechen women who carry out suicide bombings and other violent acts to avenge lost husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers. Several sources claim that the Russian media developed the term to sensationalize female suicide bombings.one.super Unlike other ...
Part Two. The Middle East and North Africa
6. Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran and Women's Images: Masters of Exploitation
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Since the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, all graphic representations of women have had to comply with strict rules and adhere to rigid regulations established by the late Ayatollah Khomeini. During the Iran-Iraq war (1980–1988), Ayatollah Khomeini consolidated power and mobilized his troops to defend Iran’s territory and religion. At this same time...
7. Iraq. Widows' Doomsday: Women and War in the Poetry of Hassan al-Nassar
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Two wars and a decade of economic sanctions define the generation of Iraqi poets to which Hassan al-Nassar belongs. The initial four decades of his lifetime signaled profound changes in Iraq: the pains of poverty in the 1960s, the relative economic prosperity in the 1970s, the 1980s wartime era, and finally, the economic sanctions in the 1990s. These years left an indelible...
8. Iraq. Images and Status: Visualizing Iraqi Women
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Images of the destruction of Iraq’s culture and society continue to arrive via television and the Internet. They announce a fatal crisis, particularly in view of the new rhetoric of occupation, sectarianism, insecurity, and instability. Yet various scenarios all advocating a new, improved, liberated, and democratized Iraq have been continuously disseminated as a sign of a successful mission by Western media and as preached and perhaps believed by...
9. Lebanon. In Search of Identity: Hijab Recollections from West Beirut
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In autumn 1983, a young woman at the American University of Beirut entered the cafeteria wearing a hijab.1 Heads turned, and whispers were audible throughout the room. The hijab itself was not unusual in West Beirut, where traditional and Western lifestyles had peacefully coexisted throughout the civil war. What made the hijab remarkable was that the student had not...
10. Lebanon. Leadership of Lebanese Women in the Cedar Revolution
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The night after Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated, a small group of men and women gathered in downtown Beirut to light candles and pray. From a dozen individuals grew the “Lebanon Spring Revolution,” the aim of which was to liberate Lebanon from fifteen years of foreign influence...
11. Tunisia and Algeria. Images of Manipulation: Subversion of Women's Rights in the Maghreb
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Whereas the West often portrays Muslim women in Middle Eastern countries negatively and from a biased standpoint, its images of the North African woman are largely positive. When “women of the Maghreb” are discussed, the focus is most frequently Tunisian women. Indeed, generalizations about the experiences of Tunisian women tend to subvert deeper inquiry concerning the lives of countless other Maghrebi women. A combination...
Part Three. Europe and the United States
12. Former Yugoslavia. Images of Women in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Neighboring Countries, 1992-1995
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Images of women, especially as portrayed during the 1992–1995 war in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and neighboring countries, reflect ethnonational politics and ideologies prevalent at the time. This chapter begins by tracing the status and roles of Balkan women in public life, starting in 1946—the year in which they obtained suffrage. The first section provides a sociopolitical...
13. Spain. Muslim Women in the Spanish Press: The Persistence of Subaltern Images
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This chapter explores how and in what ways the terrorist attacks in Madrid influenced the Spanish media’s representation of Muslim women. As I began researching this topic, the assumption was that their image had been reframed as part of a larger threatening aggressor group: Muslims. If this were the case, it might coincide with the new forms of Islamophobia already identified in Europe...
14. Great Britain. The 7/7 London Bombings and British Muslim Women: Media Representations, Mediated Realities
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This chapter explores media representations of Muslims, and British Muslim women in particular, following the London bombings of July 7, 2005, and attempted bombings in London and Glasgow during June 2007. As in the period following 9/11, Muslim women, their role in Islam, and the issue of dress, received special scrutiny in the British media. I question whether those projected images of Muslim women reflect lived realities, or merely...
15. United States. Images of Muslim Women in Post-9/11 America
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Some seven years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, stereotypical images of the Muslim woman abound in the U.S. media. Although media reporting of Muslim women has improved with time, primarily as a result of experience and constructive criticism from readers, large swaths of the American public still assume that Muslim women are weak and uneducated. This misperception...
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Page Count: 319
Illustrations: 30 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2010