Colonial Fantasies, first published in 1998, examines the Western fascination with the veiled women of the Orient. It challenges dualistic conceptions of identity and difference, West and East, and questions the traditional masculinist assumptions of Orientalism and feminist discourses which seek to 'liberate' the veiled woman.
Edward Said's Orientalism offers a powerful analysis of the structure of those varied Western discourses which represent the Orient and Islam as an object for investigation and control. Read the first page
Colonial Fantasies is a powerfully argued and engaging dissection of colonial psychology, critiques of Orientalism that isolate gender and culture, and the Western feminist adoption of the rescue paradigm. One of Yegenoglu's incisive arguments is that desire is the nexus in the process of colonial discourse that constitutes the Western subject as well as the possible resistance or interruption of this process. As desire frames the relation between the subject and its other, Yegenoglu argues that the veil interrupts the relation. As a barrier from which the other can see but avoid being seen, the veil is the site at which the colonialist desire is made manifest, but simultaneously displaced (62). Her argumentation is lucid and compelling: for the colonial gaze, the veil is both the tantalizing object of desire (in the fantasy of unveiling) as well as the bête-noire, because it precludes the climax of the voyeuristic project. The veil therefore frustrates the identity-forming process of the subject-object positioning in colonialist discourse; the subject cannot quite see the object, and its subjectivity thus remains in question. Interestingly, this overtly phallocentric logic of identity forming through scopic penetration has been inherited by Western feminism. As the veil has come to signify the backwardness of Islam and its inherent oppression of women, the visibility of the veil itself comes to embody difference. In this dynamic, the identity of the liberated Western woman is constructed vis-à-vis the oppressed Muslim woman (102). Since the status of Western women is contingent on the continued representation of Muslim women as oppressed, Yegenoglu reveals that the Western feminist establishment has a vested interest in the exceedingly patriarchal ideology of colonialism.Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Old arguments revisitedNov. 9 2000
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The books offers a conscise rendering of the role played by the figure of the female in the investigation of the relationship between the orient and occident. The argument itself is not new and does not escape the customary framework of the critique of orientlist discourse. It however, contextualises the issues at hand within the framework of bio-power and its rule in shaping the subjectivity of both coloniser and colonised. The title suggests that it is an attempt at offering a feminist reading of orientalism which I think has been achieved more than once by other post-colonial feminists. I gave it four stars for style and lucidity but not originality
Brilliant!Feb. 22 2012
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A unique work incorporating theory on subjectivity, Orientalism, and Turkish women's experiences with nationalistic currents at home. I loved reading every word of the book, especially her analysis of the Turkish nationalism.