Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone, du 19 au 24 julliet 2010


Political and Onthological Figuration of the East and the West (212) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Paper Presenter: Maryam Khalid (PhD Candidate-University of New South Wales) “Gendered Orientalism in US 'War on Terror' Security Discourse”
In the aftermath of 9/11, images of the Middle Eastern or Islamic other have been highly visible in the West. These representations have played a role in publicly justifying the military interventions of the War on Terror. For example, in the lead-up to the October 2001 Afghanistan war, the image of the oppressed veiled Afghan woman was deployed in official discourses, to construct intervention as (at least partly) emancipatory. Drawing on Edward Said's concept of orientalism and informed by postcolonial and feminist international relations, my analysis explores how, using the examples of the US-led interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, gendered orientalist representations of the Middle Eastern or Islamic other have been deployed in official US discourse to facilitate intervention as part of the War on Terror. The basic tenets of Said's thesis on the power of Western representations of the East will be applied to the War on Terror context in a modified form, taking into account both the specificity of the historical context and the importance of gender as an analytical tool. I argue that a range of binaries situating the West in opposition to the East for example, good vs evil, civilised vs barbaric, rational vs irrational, progressive vs backward have been used in ways that are gendered and orientalist. By this I mean that gender roles and identities (femininities, masculinities, and their correlation with ideas of appropriate maleness and femaleness) inform and shape the repository of orientalist knowledge that is drawn upon in War on Terror discourse. Using a discourse-analytical approach, I explore the dynamics of this gendered orientalist power in terms of its operation in US security discourses through which certain Western entities (specifically the US George W. Bush) construct their others. To this end, I have undertaken research that locates and examines official texts (spoken, visual and written) regarding War on Terror policy created and distributed (by the Bush administration) for a public audience. Within these texts, I identify dominant representations of the Eastern other, how these might be orientalist, what kinds of gender roles and identities they reproduce, and how they have been used politically. This is an important task as critical engagement with such discourses and the representations that create and reproduce them serves to destabilise and unravel the orientalist and gendered justifications for military intervention.

Paper Presenter: Isabelle Christine Somma de Castro (PhD Candidate-Universidade de Sao Paulo) “Reporting Arabs and Muslims before and after 9/11: a case study of two Brazilian newspapers”
The paper analyzed how two of the most important Brazilian newspapers, Folha de S. Paulo and O Estado de S. Paulo, covered issues concerning Arabs and Muslims six months before the September 11, 2001 attacks and six months after. The main aim was to find out whether there were major differences between the two periods. For this purpose, lexical variations from both newspapers were analyzed with regard to the issues that most appeared in the clippings. The chosen methodology was qualitative and quantitative. The content of two intervals of 30 days was closely examined: one six months prior to 9/11 and the other six months after. The findings were revealing. First, most of the articles found in both newspapers about Muslims and Arabs focus on issues regarding violence provoked by Arabs/Muslims. Violence against them is minimized. Words like “violence”, “terrorism” were exclusively attached to the Arab/Muslim side, even though some of the actions described suggested similar patterns for both sides. The explanation of the violence came from religious issues and not from national or regional interests. Islam was shown as a monolithic religion, with no differences and dissent. The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis was the main subject in both periods and newspapers. Most of the sources interviewed, like specialists and representatives, were European, American or Israelis, what led to one-sided reporting. When heard, the Palestinians’ voice was delegitimized. Second there was an extreme dependency of news from British and American newspapers and news agencies. Based on this sample of Brazilian mainstream media, it seems reasonable to assume this as the main mechanism behind their predisposition to reproduce representations usually found on American and European media. The paper concluded that old Orientalist dogmas were present in both periods (before and after 9/11) and that the newspapers frequently crystallized hegemonic discourse contrary to that of Arabs and Muslims. There were stigmas and stereotypes in both periods as well, mainly against women and Palestinians. The main conclusion is that Muslims and Arabs’ particularities tend to be disregarded, emphasizing religious and violent evidences and neglecting other aspects of their social and political life.