Présence Francophone: Revue internationale de langue et de littérature


This article examines the polysemy of the word harem in several of Fatima Mernissi’s texts. Moreover, it considers the role of orality in the form of “oral archives” that were nurtured, maintained and passed on from mother to daughter. The related issue of Mernissi’s feminist activism is also analyzed. Women in Mernissi’s harem constructed complex narratives and “stories” that incorporated many fragments of “professional” or “national” histories, including the “official” history of Morocco’s attainment of independence in 1956. Accounts of femininist movements in the Middle East and Morocco, including the al-Safaa Akhwat or Sisters of Purity (1946) and the group’s involvement in the Istiqlal (independence movement), also made their way into the life-stories and lifeworlds of the harem.



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