+1 Recommend
1 collections

      If you have found this article useful and you think it is important that researchers across the world have access, please consider donating, to ensure that this valuable collection remains Open Access.

      Arab Studies Quarterly is published by Pluto Journals, an Open Access publisher. This means that everyone has free and unlimited access to the full-text of all articles from our international collection of social science journalsFurthermore Pluto Journals authors don’t pay article processing charges (APCs).

      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Lost in Non-Translation: Politics of Misrepresenting Arabs

      Arab Studies Quarterly
      Pluto Journals
      literature, novel, translation, masculinity, war, women


            Undergraduate college students in the USA often encounter the Arab Middle East through novels translated into English. These novels are often presented by instructors and understood by students as stylized but accurate depictions of Arab societies as they currently exist. This article argues that the extremely limited number of translated Arabic novels that have made their way into American classrooms perpetuate stereotypes about Arab societies. These novels present students with themes that are often ahistorical and infused with violence, misogyny, and religious fanaticism. Although students may be highly interested in learning about Arab societies, the literary content they come across encourages affective rather than critical or complex responses.


            Author and article information

            Arab Studies Quarterly
            Pluto Journals
            Winter 2014
            : 36
            : 1
            : 27-42
            © The Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies 2013

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.


            Social & Behavioral Sciences

            Works Cited

            1. (2001). Writing Self, Writing Nation: Imagined Geographies in the Fiction of Hanan al-Shaykh. Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature , 20(2), 201–216.

            2. (1992). Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

            3. (2006). The Yacoubian Building. Trans. . New York: Harper Perennial.

            4. (2008). The Nature of the Uncanny in Season of Migration to the North. Arab Studies Quarterly , 30(1), 31–38.

            5. (1983). Woman at Point Zero. Trans. . London: Zed Books Ltd.

            6. (1994). The Story of Zahra. Trans. . New York: Anchor Books.

            7. (2012). Sleep Thief: Ghareeb Haifawi. Trans. . Banipal, Magazine of Modern Arab Literature, 45, 88–96.

            8. (1987). The Arab in Recent Popular Fiction. Middle East Journal , 41(3), 397–411.

            9. (2004). A History of the Modern Middle East. 3rd ed. Oxford: Westview Press.

            10. (2010). “9/11 led New York Pupils to Learn Arabic.” The National. 30 August. Web. Accessed April 29, 2013. <http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/americas/9–11-led-new-york-pupils-to-learn-arabic/>.

            11. (1988). Ideology and History, Identity and Alterity: The Arab Image of the Turk from the Abbasids to Modern Egypt. International Journal of Middle East Studies , 20(2), 175–196.

            12. and (2003). Cracking Down on Diaspora: Arab Detroit and America's “War on Terror.” Anthropological Quarterly , 76(3), 443–462.

            13. Institute of International Education (IIE) (2009). “Expanding U.S. Study Abroad in the Arab World: Challenges and Opportunities.” IIE Study Abroad White Paper Series. Issue Number 4, February. Web. Accessed April 29, 2013. <http://www.iie.org/>.

            14. (2011). Desiring the Big Bad Blade: Racing the Sheikh in Desert Romances. American Quarterly , 63(4), 895–928.

            15. (1999). Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories. Trans. . Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

            16. (2008). Belly Dancing: Arab-Face, Orientalist Feminism, and U.S. Empire. American Quarterly , 60(2), 317–345.

            17. Modern Language Association (MLA) (2010). “New MLA Survey Report Finds That the Study of Languages Other Than English is Growing and Diversifying at US Colleges and Universities.” 8 December. Web. Accessed December 18, 2013. <http://www.mla.org/pdf/2009_enrollment_survey_pr.pdf>.

            18. (2005). Reflections on the Excess of Empire in Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North. Paragraph , 28(2), 72–90.

            19. (1997). Covering Islam. New York: Vintage Books.

            20. (1969). Season of Migration to the North. Trans. . London: Heinemann.

            21. (2003). Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Islam: Enduring Myths and Changing Realities, 588, 171–193.

            22. (2007). Arabic as “A Critical-Need” Foreign Language in Post-9/11 Era: A Study of Students' Attitudes and Motivation. Journal of Instructional Psychology , 34(3), 150–160.

            23. (2010). On Borderline Between Shores: Space and Place in Season of Migration to the North. College Literature , 37(1), 190–203.

            24. (2004). “Interest in studying Arabic up post-9/11.” 15 January. Web. Accessed April 29, 2013. <http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/node/2227/>.


            Comment on this article