- What’s On
Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem
The oppressed yet highly sexualized woman of the Muslim harem is arguably the pivotal figure of Western orientalism. Yet, as Reina Lewis demonstrates, while orientalist thinking had recently been challenged, Western understandings of Middle Eastern culture remain limited. This book presents alternative dialogues between Ottoman and Western women. Lewis examines, from the position of cultural theory, the published autobiographical accounts about segregated life of self-identified “Oriental” women Demetra Vaka Brown, Halide Edib, Zeyneb Hanum, Melek Hanum and Grace Ellison. Bringing her subjects vividly to life, Lewis uses these texts to challenge the Western orientalist stereotypes that have become commonplace within postcolonial theory.