|Laila Ait-Bouchiba, 'Self Portrait, Prohibited,' |
installation, 2008, from Min Fami
Saturday, May 31, 2014
The Western media shapes the world’s perceptions about different regions and cultures. By focusing on conflict, and being ideologically partisan in its coverage of events, it creates stereotypes that it nurtures by ad nauseam repetition.
In case of the Middle East (a wholly inaccurate and inappropriate geographical description coined by the West), the region has always been depicted as “dangerous” place.
The depiction of Arabs has changed over the years, but continues to remain largely negative.
Arabs were oil rich in the past, then turned fanatic some time ago, and these days are rebellious, especially in the spring (and that, the Western media has decided, is a good thing).
Arab women were and are backward, and perennially voiceless.
Recently, I attended the launch of Min Fami – a book that comprehensively shatters these myths, about the region, the language, the people and especially the women.
Published by Inanna Publications and Education Inc. Min Fami– Arab Femnist Reflections on Identity, Space and Resistance is edited by Ghadeer Malek and Ghaida Moussa.
Min Fami means from my mouth in Arabic. It is a book is about finding a voice and giving voice; it is an anthology of poetry, creative non-fiction, searing fiction, academic and political essays, and visual art by Arab women.
Arab Woman, a poem in the collection by Montreal-based Ghada Chehade eloquently frames the issue identity:
Orientalized through colonial eyes
I AM AN ARAB WOMAN
Understood out of context, like a tale from an ignorant mind
I AM AN ARAB WOMAN
I have selected some of the passages that I enjoyed from the book and posted them here: Select Passages from Min Fami
These passages give a glimpse of the exquisite creativity that has been collected and compiled in this volume.
If there can ever be one book that can serve as an introduction to contemporary Arab world (and not just contemporary Arab feminism), it is clearly this book because even if the essays, the poems and the art represent an individual’s worldview, collectively, they are draw an accurate portrait of the Arab world today.
And even though the creations in the collection are pronouncedly feminist (or perhaps because of it), the anthology succeeds in transcending ideological parameters and has an innately universal appeal.
Image: From Min Fami.