Mona Kareem

Wednesday, 06 February 2019, 5.00 pm - 6.30 pm |
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Animals and Nightmares: Arab Feminist Novels and Colonial Fantasies

Mona Kareem
(State University of New York, Binghamton / EUME Fellow 2018/19)

Chair: Rasha Chatta
(EUME Fellow 2017-19)

In the aftermath of 9/11 and the Iraq war, and in light of the availability of the internet as a space for creative writing and intellectual exchange, the Arab feminist novel became a literary trend and a sociopolitical vehicle that will later influence an economy of literary publishing and translation. It is today a popular subgenre and a form of public intellectualism, staging interventions on a wide range of debates: from policy-making, education issues, cultural organizing, and censorship, to narrating nationalist history, and addressing issues of social justice, especially in regard to women’s status and “minority” discourses.
In this talk, Kareem will introduce her ongoing research on the contemporary Arab feminist novel, focusing on their re-writing of nationalist narratives in relation to subaltern groups (such as migrants, blacks, and the stateless). Her work aims to examine feminist aesthetic as a political praxis and the kind of limitations and interventions it offers. More specifically, she focuses on the relations between the Arab “citizen-woman” and her servants/lovers/rivals as staged within the trope of “impossible love” in contemporary literature that often resembles colonial romance fiction. She argues that Arab women authors are often invested in depicting the daily oppressions experienced by subaltern subjects, but not in excavating and subverting their silenced histories within the nation-state.

Mona Kareem
earned her PhD in Comparative Literature from The State University of New York at Binghamton (2018), with a dissertation titled Good Mothers, Bad Sisters: Arab Women Writers in the Nation. She holds an MA in Comparative Literature from SUNY Binghamton and a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the American University of Kuwait. For the past six years, Kareem has taught literature and writing classes at SUNY Binghamton, Rutgers University, and the City University of New York. She is the author of three poetry collections and two book-length translations. Her translation of Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within was nominated for the Best Translated Book Award 2017. She has been a fellow at the BANFF center in Canada and the Norwich Center in the UK. Her research interests include Modern Arabic Literature, Feminist Theory, Indian Ocean Studies, and Translation Theory. During the academic year of 2018/2019, Kareem is a EUME Fellow associated with the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies at Freie Universität Berlin.