Theses defended

De-Orient the Arab woman: Polarizing geographies and frames of oppression in contests and contestations of Human Rights

Yasmine Hamdi Loza

Public Defence date
September 17, 2020
Doctoral Programme
Human Rights in Contemporary Societies
Sisay Yeshanew e Teresa Cunha
In my thesis I firstly aim to investigate the global constructions of Arab women in news platforms, through an in depth theoretical discussion of frames of representation. In the State of the Art I firstly reflect the fieldwork in the chapter on Politics of Media Frames and Silenced Realities, in assessments on:
1.1 Languages and Power of Media,
1.2 Eurocentrism: Collective Outrage versus Collective Apathy, and
1.3 Women's Resistance in Epistemology: Human Rights Encounters and Arab Feminisms Deconstructing Double Patriarchies.

I move on to explore the portrayals of the Arab in productions of the Orient and the "Third World", discussing:
2.1 Frames of Oppression: Framing the Other,
2.2 Orientalism and The Immoral "Moral" Contest of Human Rights,
2.3 Doctrines of Exclusion: The "Civilising Mission" and the Burden of Representation, and
2.4 Double Patriarchies: (Non)Recognition of the Other of the Other.

Finally, I assess dichotomies between the South and North, assessing constructions on women in the research dialogue Polarized Geographies and Polarized Feminisms, inquiring:
3.1 Veiling and Unveiling: Injustice(s) on the "Arab" and the Arab Woman's Body,
3.2 Social Construction of Vulnerability and Violence on the Woman's body,
3.3 Purity, Honour Crimes and Crimes of (Dis)Honour, and
3.4 Orientalist (Mis)Representations and the Egyptian Women's Burden(s).

My fieldwork encompasses the scrutinization of media reportage on the region and with particular focus on Egyptian women, in order to de-orient the homogenizing frame. De-orienting epistemology constitutes of critical discourse analysis articles from a renowned international newspaper, under a specific Egypt-centric time frame rather than a western-centric one. Articles are collected and analysed under the keywords Egypt, Women and Rights and are assessed for their frame: imagery, language, content and layout. Under a Key of Analysis which I designed, the articles are coded to assess trends, frames of silencing and empowerment and their frequencies and instances. In doing so, the critical findings of media portray that the image of the general Arab women and more so Egyptian women has been blurred. The dangers of misrepresentations were underlined under trends of normalized depictions of alienation of the woman from her rights, face and body. Double Patriarchies are evident in systematic narrations of violence, in Western experts and Human Rights organizations speaking for and on the region, in focuses of men over women speaking for women's rights, portrayals of the woman as victim and the vilification of Egyptian society. The few instances in which direct quotes of agency of empowered women are stated are acknowledged to be as objective as possible. It was disclosed that languages largely perpetuate oppressive frames evident from the critical key of analysis discussion in quantitative and qualitative findings. Imageries to a high extent reproduce prevalence of repeated Double Patriarchies. Abstracting a small number of instances of direct women's quotes reflects stigmatic perpetuation of foreign imposition, cultural obscurement and focus on men in Egyptian women's empowerment. The research therefore sought to de-frame Frames of Oppression by deconstructing them and their languages, and to go beyond this, through articulations of Egyptian women leaderships themselves involved in women's rights whether directly or indirectly. This was carried out through semi-structured interviews which carry my own resonances with them as an Egyptian woman and as the interpreter and producer of the research, whereby my own voice is present throughout the work. The interviews reveal that the voices of Egyptian women, let alone Arab women are clearly non-homogenous and diverse, each with important stories to share. While there are nuances between perspectives, these must be seen and heard. The relational distance among women is seen within Cairo, between Cairo and outer cities, and levels of education. This mirrors the significance of exchange in women's rights discourse within Egypt and amongst feminisms of the South and North. Epistemologies ultimately should seek to listen to and invite women from the South to produce their own knowledge on the world, on women's rights and most crucially on themselves.

Keywords: De-Orientalism, Egypt, Representation, Rights, Self-Situated, Women