Tuesday, 17 May 2011

deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
[The following post has been written for [personal profile] spark in return for her support of [livejournal.com profile] con_or_bust]

Recently the term 'new orientalist' has become something of a shorthand in certain, mostly chromatic, online discourses I have seen. The term was highlighted in [personal profile] rushthatspeaks's review of Fatemeh Keshavarz's Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita In Tehran, where the poster also applied it to Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Keshavarz used the term in a detailed deconstruction of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi; since then, it has been applied to describe The Caged Virgin by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and The Almond by Nedjma here, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini here, Journey to the Land of No by Roya Hakakian and Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody here, Forbidden Love by Norma Khouri here, and Comment peut-on être français? (How Can One Be French?) by Chahdortt Djavann and Les larmes de l'exil: L'Iran confisqué (The Tears of Exile: Iran Confiscated) by Ladane Azernour here.

There seem to be layers of meaning over the term, and how it relates to other loaded terms such as 'native informant', 'comprador', 'race traitor', 'Uncle Toms' and the related 'Oreo/Banana/Coconut' analogies. Or what my friend Swati calls 'spice traders'. I'd like to push back a little at the way 'new orientalist' has become a synonym for the aforementioned words, and why I think there is a danger in letting that happen.

Read )

I will be offline and therefore unable to read or respond to comments for the forseeable future. I would ask, therefore, that any contentious or uncivil exchanges be taken to the participants' own journals.


deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
Deepa D.

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