Journal for Islamic Studies

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“Speaking for Ourselves”: American Muslim Women’s Confessional Writings and the Problem of Alterity

A A Hidayatullah, T R Zaman


This article examines the phenomenon of American Muslim women’s self-representation through the medium of autobiography post-9/11, focusing on Sumbul Ali- Karamali’s The Muslim Next Door, Asma Gull Hasan’s Red, White, and Muslim and the edited collections I Speak for Myself and Love, InshAllah. Highlighting the operation of “Muslim media chic”, the authors challenge the assumption that Muslim women speak solely for themselves through emancipatory “truth-telling” narratives, arguing that selfnarration tailored to the demands of explaining oneself to a non-Muslim audience results in gendered forms of ambassadorship that require critical examination. In addition to the problems of confessional representation, the authors also observe the writings’ invocation of American cultural supremacy and depoliticised individualism, the latter propelled by post-1990s mass-media modes of feminine visibility, including chick-lit.

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