Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Helen C. Scott
In this thesis, “troubled” narratives written by women from the Middle East and North Africa tell stories of home and belonging. None of the narratives are whole, consistent, or ideal. They all shift and break into fragmented stories as a mechanism to remember things past, survive in the present, and hope for the future. As personal as these narratives are, the resistance relies in reading them as political texts. In each chapter, I view narrative shifts, such as voice changes according to story spaces, or anachronisms (as analepsis or prolepsis) as changes in form that reflect meanings of belonging and resistance in their historical, cultural, and political contexts.Postcolonialism and transnational feminism, along with narrative and affect theory, inform my study in this thesis. I mainly adopt a Saidian mode of postcolonial resilience to stand against oppressive discourses. I echo Edward Said’s call for “writing back” through storytelling as a politics of hope instead of a politics of prejudice, blame, discrimination, and terror. My focus on women as writers and my ideas of intersectionality within transnational feminisms derive from the progressive politics of the Combahee River Collective and other related black feminist movements as well as Arab and Arab American voices like Nawal El Saadawi, Nadine Naber, Lila Abu- Lughod, among others. From Iran, to Morocco, to Arabs in the diaspora, the multiplicity of the works I include in this study and the geographies they travel across is an argument of an achieved (yet inequivalent) commonality and solidarity with marginalized people and their struggles in this world. I also examine literature, the genre of the novel, and its narrative features (with a call in the afterword to study all MENA women’s cultural productions under a similar framework) as an access point to a better understanding and representation of such struggles. While such shifts “trouble” the narrative, MENA women’s narratives in this thesis write back to the politics and form of the Eurocentric novel. Using the Saidian strategy of resistance, I find redemption in language and storytelling in speaking truth to oppressing ideologies and discourses. Thus, the collective and rich diversity of MENA women’s writings in their far-ranging narrative and literary techniques announces their strength and control over their own history and narrative.
Number of Pages
Mazahreh, Joy, "Alef Is A Key: Belonging And Resistance In Mena Women’s Fragmentary Narratives" (2023). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1694.