Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices

Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

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Book Pages: 432 Illustrations: 60 b&w photographs Published: July 2006

Author: Ella Shohat

Gender and Sexuality, Middle East Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices brings together for the first time a selection of trailblazing essays by Ella Shohat, an internationally renowned theorist of postcolonial and cultural studies of Iraqi-Jewish background. Written over the past two decades, these twelve essays—some classic, some less known, some new—trace a powerful intellectual trajectory as Shohat rigorously teases out the consequences of a deep critique of Eurocentric epistemology, whether to rethink feminism through race, nationalism through ethnicity, or colonialism through sexuality.

Shohat’s critical method boldly transcends disciplinary and geographical boundaries. She explores such issues as the relations between ethnic studies and area studies, the paradoxical repercussions for audio-visual media of the “graven images” taboo, the allegorization of race through the refiguring of Cleopatra, the allure of imperial popular culture, and the gender politics of medical technologies. She also examines the resistant poetics of exile and displacement; the staging of historical memory through the commemorations of the two 1492s, the anomalies of the “national” in Zionist discourse, the implications of the hyphen in the concept “Arab-Jew,” and the translation of the debates on orientalism and postcolonialism across geographies. Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices not only illuminates many of the concerns that have animated the study of cultural politics over the past two decades; it also points toward new scholarly possibilities.


“[A] rich collection of essays. . . . Engaging and inspiring, challenging yet accessible, this book is a pleasure to read.” — Joanna Long, Cultural Geographies

“[A] splendid collection of essays, deploying a wide variety of forms, and with a broad range of interests. . . . It would be no exaggeration to suggest that Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices, as the work of an anti-Zionist Mizrahim based in the United States, manages, in the most impressive way, to embody, dramatize, interpret, and mobilize the same condition.” — Conor McCarthy, College Literature

“[T]he collection functions as a window onto the issues and dilemmas confronted by an interdisciplinary cultural studies since the late 1980s, namely, the concerns raised by multiculturalism, transnational feminism, diaspora, and postcolonialism. However, the larger accomplishment of the volume is that it reveals a pioneering mode of cultural criticism that may be definitively viewed as a ‘post-orientalist’ practice of knowledge. . . . As an essayist, [Shohat] has a knack for constructing a platform of inquiry through a prism of complexities and interrelationships, and for scrutinizing a given phenomenon of culture along multiple axes, investments, and stakes. These qualities make this a valuable book, and we may hope that more from Shohat is in the works.” — Saloni Mathur, CAA Reviews

“[T]his collection makes a set of indispensable arguments about the interplay between culture, empire, race, gender, and the politics of representation in dissimilar geohistorical contexts. . . . Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices is indispensable reading for those engaged in the important work of pushing Middle East studies further.” — Rebecca Luna Stein, International Journal of Middle East Studies

“Even though, over the years, I had read many of these essays, the book proved hard to put down. I delighted in the richness of the array, which displays the breadth as well as the depth of Shohat’s analysis, while pushing toward new scholarly and intellectual possibilities that more accurately express our hybrid and resistant complexities.” — Nada Elia, Journal of Middle East Women's Studies

“This collection will be especially valuable to readers seeking to explore the postcolonial with an integrated frame of reference to the Middle East and Africa, at a moment when grand anti-colonial metanarratives no longer thrive and yet problems of racism and neo-imperialism survive hardily, as Shohat reminds us in ‘Post-Fanon and the colonial.’” — Deborah Jenson, Interventions

“This is a fascinating collection of essays that both reprises important thematic strands in her earlier work and extends the scope of her critical interests. . . . Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices is a superb catalyst for the resurgence of those many-accented Jewish diasporic voices long occluded by Euro-Zionist hegemony.” — Ned Curthoys, Holy Land Studies

“This is a great collection of Ella Shohat’s essays. . . .” — John Bunzi, Digest of Middle East Studies

“Amplitude, in both scope and wavelength, is the operative word for these essays. Each essay breaks out a cascade of examples—the sheer wealth of citation alone makes this volume exceptional. Its vibrant combination of skepticism and generosity is Ella Shohat’s trademark. — Mary Louise Pratt, author of Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation

“Ella Shohat’s writing explores the volatile border regions where feminist theory meets anticolonial thought and where the politics of culture encounters the powers of imperialist reason. What she writes is important, inspiring, and fearless.” — Timothy Mitchell, author of of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity

“From her keen observations about the politics of knowledge production in the U.S. university, to her canny elucidation of the gendered geographies of colonial cinema, to her critical engagements with post-Zionist discourse, Ella Shohat’s bold intelligence is unparalleled. This volume collects her key interventions that have shaped and illuminated the debates we have come to know as multiculturalism, postcolonial discourse, and transnational feminism.” — Lisa Lowe, coeditor of The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ella Shohat is Professor in the Departments of Art & Public Policy and Middle Eastern Studies and affiliated with the Department of Comparative Literature at New York University. Among her books are Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age; Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation; and, with Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism, winner of the Katherine Singer Kovacs Award.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Illustrations ix

Preface xiii

Gendered Cartographies of Knowledge: Area Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Postcolonial Studies 1

Gender and the Culture of Empire: Toward a Feminist Ethnography of the Cinema 17

Sacred Word, Profane Image: Theologies of Adaption 70

The Cinema after Babel: Language, Difference, Power (with Robert Stam) 106

“Lasers for Ladies”: Endo Discourse and the Inscriptions of Science 139

Disorienting Cleopatra: A Modern Trope of Identity 166

Taboo Memories, Diasporic Visions: Columbus, Palestine, and Arab-Jews 201

Notes on the “Post-Colonial” 233

Post-Fanon and the Colonial: A Situational Diagnosis 250

Post-Third Worldist Culture: Gender, Nation, and the Cinema 290

Rupture and Return: Zionist Discourse and the Study of Arab-Jews 330

The “Postcolonial” in Translation: Reading Edward Said between English and Hebrew 359

Index 385
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3771-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3758-4
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