This book presents a dialogue between Western and Middle Eastern women that is often presumed never to have happened. Not only were women from the Middle East imagined to be shut up in a harem all day without access to education, ideas or the outside world, but the extent to which Western women travelers were able to engage with women in the regions they visited has often been overlooked. This pioneering collection provides substantial extracts from Ottoman, Egyptian and British and American writers - each with a biographical and literary introduction - that trace the development of an intellectual, personal and critical dialogue between women over a period of accelerated social change marked by Arab nationalism and Egypt's move to independence, and the establishment of the Turkish Republic at the end of the Ottoman Empire. The ways in which the role of woman as either guardian of tradition or in the vanguard of change washotly contested in both countries and by all sides of the political spectrum is explained in an editors' introduction and photo-essay that set up the common themes of the collection.
Reina Lewis is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London. She is author ofRethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem andGendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation. She is editor, with Sara Mills, ofFeminist Postcolonial Theory.Nancy Micklewright is a Program Officer at the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles. She previously taught Islamic art and architecture and the history of photography at the University of Victoria, Canada, and is author ofA Victorian Traveler in the Middle East: The Photography and Travel Writing of Annie Lady Brassey.
"The selections in this volume remind us that conversation as well as confrontation has shaped histories of "East-West" encounter, even if different parties to dialogue have not had even or equal access to audiences for their writing...a timely reminder that often parallel debates over gender and societal efficacy were taking place simultaneously in Istanbul, Cairo, London and New York."--Marilyn Booth, author,May Her Likes be Multiplied: Biography and Gender Politics in Egypt