Muslim Women in War and Crisis: Representation and Reality

Muslim Women in War and Crisis: Representation and Reality

Muslim Women in War and Crisis: Representation and Reality

Muslim Women in War and Crisis: Representation and Reality


Representing diverse cultural viewpoints,Muslim Women in War and Crisiscollects an array of original essays that highlight the experiences and perspectives of Muslim women--their dreams and nightmares and their daily struggles--in times of tremendous social upheaval. Analyzing both how Muslim women have been represented and how they represent themselves, the authors draw on primary sources ranging from poetry and diaries to news reports and visual media. Topics include:

  • Peacebrokers in Indonesia
  • Exploitation in the Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Chechen women rebels
  • Fundamentalism in Afghanistan, from refugee camps to Kabul
  • Memoirs of Bengali Muslim women
  • The 7/7 London bombings, British Muslim women, and the media

Also exploring such images in the United States, Spain, the former Yugoslavia, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, and Iraq, this collection offers a chorus of multidimensional voices that counter Islamophobia and destructive clich s. Encompassing the symbolic national and religious identities of Muslim women, this study goes beyond those facets to examine the realities of day-to-day existence in societies that seek scapegoats and do little to defend the victims of hate crimes. Enhancing their scholarly perspectives, many of the contributors (including the editor) have lived through the strife they analyze. This project taps into their firsthand experiences of war and deadly political oppression.


This volume reflects a deep interest in the politics of “image” and the ways in which images dominate and seduce by investing power in particular signifiers, tropes, and descriptions. The multivoiced text, written by scholars and journalists from across the world, revolves around dual themes: the reality and the representation of women caught in war and crises. What ties the chapters together is a collective concern for women who are subjected to violence in various manifestations. Whether physical or psychological, direct or indirect, whether promulgated by external and internal forces or by religious majorities intent on genocide, the issue of direct or threatened violence against women informs each essay.

Many of the contributors have lived through the times they discuss. For some, including the editor of this volume, their personal lives have been affected firsthand by war. Indeed, this project taps into the traumatic effects of war on my own family, friends, and community. As an eighteen-year-old, I left Abadan, Iran—unaware that I would never be able to return. My family home, my father’s business, all beloved childhood memories and spaces were entirely obliterated by Iraqi bombs. Across the decades, colleagues and acquaintances, most of them women, have shared their personal stories concerning war and national struggle. The more I spoke with them, the more I realized the universality of our experiences, despite differences in culture, language, and religious background.

One objective of this project was to document and disseminate stories like my own. In the process, I began to notice significant disparities between firsthand accounts and analyses of the events on which those accounts were based. This subject-object tension, with the attendant dichotomy of women cast either as victims or as political agents, piqued my interest and informed my decision to juxtapose the two separate themes of reality and representation in a single volume.

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