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Orientalizing Arab Migrant Women: Faten and Reema as Sexual Fantasies in Laila Lalami’s Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits and Susan Muaddi Darraj’s The Inheritance of Exile

Feminist Research

Rachid Lamghari

6 (2022)



Transnational Feminism , Representation , Orientalism , Arab Female Migrants , Agency

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The orientalist discourse is characterized by the discursive conceptualization of an uncivilized and sexualized east. Eastern women are portrayed as sexual objects and fantasies whose purpose is the satisfaction and obedience of the brown men. This discursive representation has affected the Westerner’s perception of migrant women as the novels suggest. This article probes the sexualizing and objectifying of Arab migrant women as a result of their ideological representation by the orientalists in the context of diaspora. Faten in Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits as a Moroccan female migrant in Spain and Reema in The Inheritance of Exile as an American of Arab descent are perceived by the Spanish customer and American boyfriend respectively as harem and sexual objects who can fulfill their fantasies. The agency Lalami and Darraj associate with their female protagonists does however dismantle the fixed representation of orientalism as Faten and Reema are given voice to rewrite the discursive narratives and to present alternative representations of Arab female migrants as being heterogeneous and independent individuals with freedom and control over their choices and decisions. The two studied novels as postcolonial diasporic literature disrupt and debunk the discursive orientalist discourse on Arab women.

The orientalist discourse misrepresents Arab Women.

Westerner’s conceptualization of Arabs is affected by Orientalism.

Arab Women’s literature dismantles the homogeneity of Arabs.

Arab female migrants are given voice to represent and speak for themselves.

The homogenizing Arab women are trespassed.


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