Habib, Samar. 2007. Female Homosexuality in the Middle East: Histories and Representations. Routledge, New York. ISBN 78-0-415-80603-9
This work provides a historic context to the study and discussion of female homosexuality in the Middle East, including contemporary socio-political concerns.
Part III: Chapters 5 & 6 - The history and representation of female homosexuality in the contemporary Middle East
The final section of Habib's work covers modern media representations of female homosexuality in the Islamic Middle East. The specific topics here fall outside the historic scope of my project but were the impetus for Habib's research into the historic context of attitudes towards those topics. Next week I'll start covering another of Habib's publications, which looks in more detail at the historic texts that formed the basis of her research.
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Part III: The history and representation of female homosexuality in the contemporary Middle East
Chapter 5: Contemporary representations of female homosexuality in Arabic literature and criticism
This chapter focuses primarily on the first identified modern lesbian-centered novel written in Arabic: Ana Hiya Anti (I am You). In contrast to the emergence of lesbian literature in the U.S. out of the pulp novels of the '50s, where an emphasis on sensationalism and deviance gradually gave way to more sympathetic portrayals, this novel was written in a context of literary silence, but one where there was a tacit social understanding that homosexuality was a disease and sinful.
The novel focuses on three women coming from various backgrounds who come together in various configurations of desire for each other. Written in multi-cultural Lebanon and published in 2000, it was both an international best-seller and the subject of criticism and debate that often redirected the critics' discomfort with the subject onto critiques of the book's structure and composition. This criticism exposed many of the underlying cultural assumptions about the motivations and “causes” of lesbianism, even when those assumptions were directly contradicted by the novel’s content.
Chapter 6: Some like it luke-warm: A brief history of the representation of (homo)sexuality in Egyptian film
This chapter has an interesting survey of themes and plots of movies addressing non-normative sexuality, but as none of the content addresses historical stories or settings, it doesn’t fall within the scope of this project.