Contemporary representations of adolescent Muslim girls in Australia and the United States: reinforcing or challenging the stereotypes
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 02:41 authored by Maram AbdulKarim Almatani
This thesis analyses the representation of teenage Muslim girls in Randa Abdel-Fattah’s novels Ten Things I Hate About Me and Does My Head Look Big In This?, Mohja Kahf’s The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf and Aliya Husain’s Neither This Nor That. All are set in the United States and Australia, with the central motif of the hijab as a symbol of female oppression. These four novels are analysed through the perspective of Mohja Kahf’s Western Representations of the Muslim Woman: From Termagant to Odalisque, an extension of Said's Orientalism critique of the representation of Muslim women in western literature. The research demonstrates that while adolescent Muslim girls share similar concerns as their non-Muslim peers, their cultural and religious beliefs add complexity to their struggle to develop or reject their Islamic heritage and its symbols; such as the hijab. In current western political discourse in which Islam has become synonymous with terrorism, the four novels are significant in their attempts to represent the complexities of living in the 'west' as a Muslim and the pressure on young Muslim women in particular, to assimilate. Theories on class and power relations inform much of this thesis, drawing on theorists including Foucault, Bhabha, Spivak and Said. As well as the few academic papers and reviews on these novels, other sources include contemporary critiques and analyses of Islamic women as well as social and political discourse in Australia and the US.