Reclaiming the Voice of the ‘Third World Woman’

Grewal, Kiran. 2012. Reclaiming the Voice of the ‘Third World Woman’. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 14(4), pp. 569-590. ISSN 1369-801X [Article]

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While conservative Somali writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali has become a widely recognized and acclaimed figure in the West, she has generally been ignored or derided by postcolonial feminists. This has largely been due to her extremely provocative and often offensive statements regarding Islam and Muslim immigrants in the West. While Hirsi Ali is clearly problematic, in this essay I argue that engagement with her is both necessary and useful. On the one hand, an examination of Hirsi Ali's success shows the implication of a particular discourse that postcolonial feminists have unwittingly endorsed: namely an essentialized and overly celebratory positioning of the authentic ‘Third World woman's voice’. On the other hand, I argue that critical engagement with Hirsi Ali also opens up interesting sites of rejuvenation for postcolonial feminism and a means of developing a more nuanced and truly decolonized anti-racist, feminist politics.

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postcolonial feminism, postcolonial habitus , testimonial literature

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12 November 2012Published Online

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07 Nov 2017 12:05

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07 Nov 2017 12:05

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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