International Women’s Day: Translating, or Mistranslating, Arab Feminisms

Arabic Literature (in English)

Nawal El Saadawi just finished up a popular, well-received appearance at the Emirates LitFest in Dubai:

iwd_squareNow, the eighty-three-year-old novelist and activist is in England for an appearance at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. It’s part of a tour, organized by Sable Litmag, which will take El Saadawi across England and Scotland. (See the schedule of events.)

El Saadawi has long been a poster-child for Arab feminism in the West. Indeed, both El Saadawi’s important work as an Egyptian feminist and the use of her work by Western feminists shed light on the difficulties translating international feminist “solidarity.”

As Amal Amireh writes in “Framing Nawal El Saadawi: Arab Feminism in a Transnational World“:

“In this case study of El Saadawi’s reception, I examine both academic and nonacademic writing by and about her, foregrounding the strategies by which the first world reads and understands Arab women’s texts and drawing…

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