Toward A Chicana Decolonial Reading Of Autobiographical Writings By Egyptian Women, 1950s-present

Mansour, Asmaa
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This dissertation argues for taking a Chicana decolonial approach to analyzing autobiographical writings by Egyptian women writers namely: Zaynab Al Ghazali (1917-2005), Latifa Al Zayyat (1932-1996), Nawal Al Saadawi (1931-2021), and Radwa Ashour (1946-2014). This decolonial approach is instrumental in studying autobiography, by Arab women writers in general and Egyptian women in particular, as a genre that has been dominated by Anglo- European theories, political, cultural, and gender power structures, as well as familiar postcolonial theories by Said, Spivak, and Bhabha. Through deploying Chicana decolonial feminist theories and the genre of self-writing/narrative theories, I argue that these Egyptian women writers, in their autobiographical writings, attempt to decolonize their selves and their communities, their psyches/minds/bodies, gender, and sexuality; reclaim their presence in colonial history and politics; reinterpret ancient Egyptian mythology, use Islamic spirituality to transcend physical and political oppressions; and cross the borders between facts and fictions. In so doing, I achieve multiple goals: unveiling the problem of applying Western theories— that deal with genre and gender— to non-Western Arab and Muslim women texts; decolonizing criticism and terminology used to describe and analyze these texts; contributing to theorizing Arab women autobiographies through using Anzaldúa's autohistoria as more productive feminist narrative theory; opening the door towards developing Arab feminist and Islamic feminist theories through seeking solidarity with Chicana feminists; moving away from hegemonic comparisons between Arab women and European women (Victorian women or French feminists ) and instead turning the wheel to Arab-women of color comparisons or South- South comparisons including but not limited to Chicanas.

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