Download the full-sized PDF of Dislodging (New) Orientalist Frames of Reference: Muslim Women in Diasporic and Immigrant Muslim Anglophone NarrativesDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

Dislodging (New) Orientalist Frames of Reference: Muslim Women in Diasporic and Immigrant Muslim Anglophone Narratives Open Access


Other title
Muslim Anglophone Narratives
Muslim Women
the veil
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Zarei Toossi, Katayoun
Supervisor and department
Slemon, Stephen (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Johnston, Ingrid (Education)
Reed, Daphne (English and Film studies)
Ouzgane, Lahoucine (English and Film Studies)
Gingell, Susan (English, University of Saskatchewan)
abu-Laban, Yasmeen (Political Sciences)
Department of English and Film Studies
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Abstract Aided by the methodologies of postcolonial theory, particularly critiques of Orientalist discourse, Muslim feminist scholarship, cultural studies and studies on diaspora this dissertation explores the ways in which an emergent body of Muslim immigrant/ diasporic narratives in English by women writers deals with the change in the landscape of dominant representations around Islam. Such representations mostly focus on a bifurcated conception of oppression and victimization of people, particularly women, by the patriarchal doctrines of Islam and/or the redemption from such fetters upon moving to the West and adopting Western values and lifestyles. These simplistic renditions become more significant when considered in the context of post-September 11 terrorist attacks which prompted concerns about the rise of Islamic extremism. This project explores how a variety of Muslim narratives in English problematize the perception of religiosity as always being a result of the imposition of external forces that are invariably oppressive or politically charged. The dissertation starts with the original theorization of Orientalism offered by Edward Said and examines works by Azar Nafisi and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. These narratives represent the ways in which a new strand of Orientalist narratives, while adding nuances to the original theorization offered by Said, reiterate the Orientalist framework in portraying the Muslim woman as a homogenized category and her disadvantaged location between tradition and modernity without heeding to intricacies of larger power and knowledge discursive formations and historical specificities that impact these relations. The second chapter explores how exemplary non-fiction by Leila Aboulela demonstrates the difficulty of communicating the experience of Muslim faith to a non-Muslim reader. The third chapter focuses on semiotic complexities of the Muslim veil as an object that has almost invariably become a defining feature of Muslim female subjectivity, as well as the ways in which Mohja Kahf’s literary representations of the veil engage in scholarly conversations around Muslim hijab and identity in the context of diaspora and deconstruct meanings associated with the veil. Finally, and following Said’s concept of affiliation, an analysis of Camilla Gibb’s Sweetness in the Belly wraps up the dissertation by showing how it challenges exoticizing tendencies of Orientalist discourse in representing “Otherness” and unquestioned assumptions of authenticity accorded to exilic voices of the recently emerging popular autobiographical accounts of women writers from Muslim and/or Middle Eastern backgrounds. The concluding chapter discusses the challenges of balancing the political and literary demands on Muslim Anglophone narratives and examines the ways in which this literature can become an enduring and positive force in realm of minority Literatures. It calls for a solidarity model that starts in connection with the aesthetics and politics of the world of Islam and then moves beyond racial, gendered, classed, religious, and cultural divides. The conclusion argues that this model can provide a better opportunity for Muslim narratives in English to be heard and appreciated on a broader spectrum.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Toossi, Katayoun. “Implanting Ethiopia: Camilla Gibb’s Sweetness in the Belly.” The International Journal of Humanities 8.8 (2010): 160-175

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (Portable Document Format)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 1312069
Last modified: 2015:10:12 15:30:40-06:00
Filename: ZareiToossi_Katayoun_Fall 2012.pdf
Original checksum: e795a9171640c48f68357a8c48916dc6
Well formed: true
Valid: true
Status message: Too many fonts to report; some fonts omitted. Total fonts = 1086
File title: Introduction 3
Page count: 277
File language: en-US
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date