Women, Islam, and cinema

Gender politics and representation in Middle Eastern films and beyond

Authored by: Eylem Atakav

The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138924956
eBook ISBN: 9781315684062
Adobe ISBN: 9781317408055


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Critical explorations of the relationship between Islam, cinema, and women contribute to academic debates around difference. This connection may be approached from different perspectives. One may think about the concept of representation in examining this topic: how are women represented in films produced in countries where Islam is the dominant religion? How do Islamic films represent women? Or, how do filmmakers who define themselves as Muslim represent issues around identity and cultural politics that inform discourses around womanhood? Furthermore, what kinds of themes and genres are chosen in films when the relationship between Islam and women is the focus of attention? How are Muslim women represented in cinemas of non-Muslim (predominantly Western) countries? One may approach these topics by examining questions around women filmmakers: what kinds of films do women from Muslim countries produce? Are there common and/or recurring themes in their films? How are these films different, if at all, from those made elsewhere? Informed by issues around representation and modes of production, it is also possible for one to approach the topic from the perspective of reception studies: how are films about women and Islam received around the world? How are women’s films from Islamic countries received within the country of their production and beyond? Do these films travel? In analyzing the relationship between cinema, Islam, and women, one may also choose to focus on Middle Eastern film. While this excludes areas outside Middle Eastern countries where Islam is the dominant religion, it enables a focus on comparable themes in the films of these socio-historical communities with shared geography and cultural and religious connections.

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