Negotiating Liminal Identities in Mohja Kahf’s The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf

Susan Taha Alkarawi, Ida Baizura Bahar

Abstract


This paper challenges the thought that the term ‘Muslim woman’ connotes submissive or backward and is in need of rescue by the West through a literary analysis of the work by Mohja Kahf (b.1967), a leading contemporary Arab-American Muslim woman writer. In her novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf (2006), Kahf focuses on the oppressive and discriminatory practices Muslim women encounter when wearing the hijab or veil where the main character and narrator experiences a type of identity split, or fragmentation, when assimilating into mainstream American culture. As a tool for analysis, the notion of liminality by Victor Turner (1920-1983), a British cultural anthropologist, is used to analyze the narrator’s choice of being ‘betwixt and between’ the state of things, or being ‘neither here nor there’. The resolution of social and personal conflicts portrayed is mapped to the stages of liminality.


Keywords


Veil, Liminality, Identity, Muslim Woman, Assimilation, Discrimination, Conflicts, Tradition

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References


Abdurraqib, S. (2006). Hijab scenes: Muslim women, Migration, and Hijab in Immigrant Muslim Literature. MELUS, 31, P.55-70.

Cleveland, W. L. (2004). A History of the Modern Middle East. (3rd ed.). Boulder: Western Press.

Kahf, M. (2006). The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf. New York, NY: Carrol & Graf Publishers.

Turner, V. W. (1967). Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu ritual. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press.

Turner, V. W. (1969). The Ritual Process. Chicago: Aldine.

Turner, V. W. (1974). Metaphors of Anti-structure in Religious Culture. In V. Turner(Ed.), Changing Perspective In the Scientific Study of Religion. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons. (pp. 63-84).




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.2n.2p.101

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