Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel, and the Ottoman Harem

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Rutgers University Press, 2004 - History - 297 pages
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During the nineteenth century, the figure of the passive, oppressed, yet highly sexualized female of the Muslim harem became the pivotal figure of Western orientalism. Despite recent challenges to orientalist thinking, however, an enduring mystique continues to surround Western perceptions of Eastern women.

In Rethinking Orientalism, Reina Lewis makes a major contribution to correcting the prevailing stereotype of the subjugated, silenced woman of the harem. Bringing together published autobiographical accounts of self-identified "Oriental" women at the turn of the twentieth century, she reveals that these women were, in fact, able to intervene in orientalist culture and manipulate cultural codes. Lewis shows how the writings of Demetra Vaka Brown, Halide Edib, Zeyneb Hanum, Melek Hanum, and Grace Ellison were part of a social and textual dialogue with Western women, and how their contentious engagement with Western feminism was an important facet of regional modernization.

Exploring the complicated ways that these writers addressed topics such as seclusion, the veil, and polygamy, Lewis vividly illustrates the possibilities and limitations of resistance that women from Islamic societies have experienced and continue to work within.



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pg.13 (Lady Montagu) and 129 (Jane Eyre reference) impt


Harem Travellers
Melek in Yashmak Zeyneb Hanoum A Turkish Woman s European
Empire Nation and Culture
The Limits of Emancipation
Representing Other Women
Contested Behaviours Gendered Spaces
The Shifting Significance of Clothes
Impressions London Seeley Service and Co 1913 235
Melek Hanuom Heroine of Pierre Loti s Disenchanted and Suate
Commodification Time and Nostalgia The Search
Demetra Vaka Demetra Vaka Child of the Orient London John Lane
Major Tewfik Corporal Halide Major Tahsin and Galib Bey Halide

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About the author (2004)

Reina Lewis is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London. She is author of "Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem" and "Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation," She is editor, with Sara Mills, of "Feminist Postcolonial Theory," Nancy Micklewright is a Program Officer at the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles. She previously taught Islamic art and architecture and the history of photography at the University of Victoria, Canada, and is author of "A Victorian Traveler in the Middle East: The Photography and Travel Writing of Annie Lady Brassey,

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