Posted by: Christian | August 27, 2007

Totally out of context quote #15

August 28, 2007.

“Recent memoirs written by women from Afghanistan have also been critiqued for succumbing to the “neo-orientalist” paradigm of presenting yet another example of suffering, eastern women beaten down by their barbaric men and suffering at the hands of a medieval culture. To these critics, Hosseini’s heroines, Mariam and Laila, are not women emerging from a chasm of hopelessness but rather an indictment of a whole society that will be discarded and denigrated by the Western reader as inherently misogynistic.

In Gayatri Spivak’s now oft-quoted words, Hosseini’s tale (especially in light of the Allied invasion of Afghanistan) can quite literally be construed as yet another instance of “white men saving brown women from brown men.”

Yet allowing for such critiques leads us to an even more untenable thesis. Should the grim reality of abuse be abridged and disguised simply because it promotes negative stereotypes? Is the suffering of Afghan women not worthy of representation in literature because it can be appropriated for political agendas?”

Context: Indiana University’s Rafia Zakaria, in her review of Khalid Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, has some choice words for both those who cry “neo-orientalism, neo-colonialism!” and for those who see the suffering of Afghan women as fitting into their conservative internationalist agenda. I will not discuss this issue at the present time even though gender issues and women’s studies are my forté (sarcasm alert). So instead, just read the review. It’s short and to the well-expressed point.


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