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Women, Islam and Cinema

This is the first book to examine the troubled relationships between women, Islam and cinema. Film critic and author Gönül Dönmez-Colin explores the role of women as spectators, images and image constructors in the cinemas of the countries where Islam is the predominant religion, focusing on Iran and Turkey from the Middle East, drawing parallels from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the two Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union, and Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia, the prominently Muslim Asian countries with a challenging film industry. Some of the relevant films made in India by and for Muslim Indians are also explored.

Dönmez-Colin examines prevalent cinematic archetypes, including the naïve country girl who is deceived and dishonored, or the devious seductress who destroys the sanctity of marriage, and looks well at controversial elements such as screen rape, which, feminist film critics claim, caters to male voyeurism. She also discusses recurring themes, such as the myths of femininity, the endorsement of polygamy and the obsession with male children, as well as the most common stereotypes, depicting women as mothers, wives and daughters.

Given the diversity of cultures, rather than viewing national cinemas as aspects of a single development, the author focuses on individual histories, traditions and social and economic circumstances as points of reference, which are examined in the context of social and political evolution and the status of women within Islam.

Women, Islam and Cinema is a much-needed and timely work that will appeal to the curious reader as well as to the student of film.

Distribution by the University of Chicago Press only to customers in the USA and Canada. Customers elsewhere should visit the UK website of Reaktion Books.

208 pages | 6.6 x 4.5


Film Studies

Gender and Sexuality

Religion: Islam

Women's Studies

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"Presents a fascinating array of film narratives and characterizations. . .  Rather than simplistically blaming men for women’s problems, the author seeks a deeper understanding of how repressive interpretations of Islam affect film and therefore culture, without losing sight of the fact that, in oppressed societies, men are losers too. . . Underscores the dynamic interplay between cinema and real life in countries where, literally in some cases, women were once dying to go to the movies."

Maria Golia | The Times Literary Supplement

"Informative and concise . . . Has moments of great insight into films, social context, and the interplay of modernity and tradition in Turkisth and Iranian cinema."


Table of Contents

1. representations of women
2. violence against women and the politics of rape
3. islamist cinema as a genre
4. women’s films, films about women
5. women heroes of the new iranian cinema
select bibliography
films and addresses
photo acknowledgements

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