Iraqi women’s stories: reading Iraqi women writers’ Arabic novels in English translation using analytical perspectives of feminist translation

Student thesis: Phd


This study offers a critical exploration of Iraqi women writers’ novels in Arabic-English translation as a body of work which reflects in many ways the impact of seismic political changes on the peoples of Iraq at different times and places. Iraqi women writers’ novels have been acclaimed for privileging localised gendered perspectives of everyday life over discourses of hegemonic politics in Iraq while negotiating the shifting effects of state censorship, violence, war and dislocation on Iraqi literary output, inside and outside of Iraq. With Iraq’s modern history of war, conflict and fluctuating political contexts, the strategies used to mediate Iraqi women writer’s novels in Arabic in English translation have been varied. In view of many Iraqi writers having to publish their novels outside of Iraq, the politics of Iraqi writers’ location – and that or their literary works - have emerged as potentially charged and fruitful points of debate in contemporary Iraqi activist scholarship. The strategies of translation used to mediate Iraqi women writers’ novels at different junctures thus raise interesting questions on how Iraqi women’s stories told from localised, gendered and distinctly Iraqi perspectives were translated into English, a language associated with and at times intertwining Iraq’s recent history of war, occupation and political instability. The aim of this study is to raise appreciation of Iraqi women writers’ novels as an important part of contemporary Iraqi and Arab literature by putting forward a new approach of reading how Iraqi women writers’ novels move across languages in shifting, charged frames of gendered geopolitical contexts. In this study, then I analyse the different strategies used to mediate six Iraqi women writers’ novels and story-making in English translation. To do so, I use and interrogate analytical frameworks of feminist translation which are underpinned by the theoretical premises that all writing, including translation are (gendered) re-writings of socio-linguistic, gendered and intersectional dynamics of power. While these premises configure borders between (gendered) writing and translation as fluid, ambiguous and transformative in ways potentially salient to Iraqi women writers’ novels, paradigms of feminist translation are yet to be explored in depth alongside Iraqi and Arab women’s literature in English translation. The outcome of my study is two-fold: one, to draw critical attention to the innovative gendered writing strategies used in this tradition of Iraqi and Arab women’s literature in Arabic and English translation and two, to offer potentially new theoretical horizons for feminist translation studies and other academic fields critically engaging with Iraqi and Arab women’s literatures in translation.
Date of Award31 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorUrsula Tidd (Supervisor) & Anastasia Valassopoulos (Supervisor)


  • Iraqi women's literature; Arab women's literature; feminist translation studies

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