Activism and Exception in Covering Egypt’s Uprising: A Critical Reading of the New York Times Representation of Female Protestors

in Sociology of Islam
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This paper interrogates the representation of women in the NEW YORK TIMES (nyt) coverage of the 2011 Egyptian uprising. In it, I highlight some of the ways in which Orientalist stereotypes were often manifested in the nyt representation of female protestors. The data for this project draws upon 224 news-stories published in the nyt during the 2011 Egyptian uprising. The stories offer a detailed coverage of the popular movement between January 25 and February 19, 2011. I carry out a textual analysis of news and commentaries, and read the text through the lens of feminist and postcolonial theories. My analysis suggests that traditional Orientalist motifs of passiveness coexisted along new ones of agency in the coverage. By evoking the myth of female passiveness and framing female activism as an exception, the nyt, I suggest, assuaged the effect of women’s activism in deconstructing traditional gender and geopolitical stereotypes. In so doing, the paper contributes to exposing how Orientalist discourses are able to reflect variation and historical shifts. It also extends the postcolonial feminist insight to new cases by offering a critical reading of women’s image in a key global news paper and amidst a period of change and uncertainties.

Activism and Exception in Covering Egypt’s Uprising: A Critical Reading of the New York Times Representation of Female Protestors

in Sociology of Islam



Abu-LughodLila. (2001). Orientalism and Middle East Feminist Studies. Feminist Studies (1) 101113.

Abu-LughodLila. (2002). Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others. American Anthropologist104(3) 783790.

AhmedLeila. (1992). Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. Yale University Press.

AhmedLeila. (2012). A quiet revolution: the veil’s resurgence from the Middle East to America. New Haven Conn.; London: Yale University Press.

Al-MalkiAmalKauferDavid & IshizakiSuguru. (2012). Arab Women in Arab News: Old Stereotypes and New Media. A&C Black.

Al-SajiAlia. (2009). Muslim Women and the Rehtoric of Freedom. In OrtegaM. & AlcoffL.M. (Eds.) Constructing the Nation: A Race and Nationalism Reader (pp. 6591). Albany, ny: suny Press.

AllisonKatherine (2013). American Occidentalism and the agential Muslim woman. Review of International Studies39(3) 665684.

AlloulaMalek. (1987). The Colonial Harem. Manchester University Press.

AlsultanyEvelyn. (2012). Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11. nyu Press.

AlsultanyEvelyn. (2013). Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Representational Strategies for a “Postrace” Era. American Quarterly65(1) 161169. doi:10.1353/aq.2013.0008.

AmosValerie & ParmarPratibha. (1984). Challenging Imperial Feminism. Feminist Review17(1) 319. doi:10.1057/fr.1984.18.

BadranMargot. (1988). Dual liberation: Feminism and nationalism in Egypt, 1870s–1925. Gender Issues8(1) 15.

BaronBeth. (2005). Egypt As a Woman: Nationalism Gender and Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press.

BayoumiMoustafa. (2010). The God That Failed: The Neo-Orientalism of Today’s Muslim Commentators. In ShryockA. (Ed.) Islamophobia/Islamophilia: Beyond the Politics of Enemy and Friend (pp. 7993). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

BloomM. (2007). Female suicide bombers: a global trend. Daedalus136(1) 94102.

BurkeEdmund & ProchaskaDavid. (2008). Genealogies of Orientalism: History Theory Politics. u of Nebraska Press.

ButlerJudith. (1990). Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.

BymanDaniel. (2013). Explaining the Western Response to the Arab Spring. Journal of Strategic Studies36(2) 289320.

DabashiHamid. (2006). Native informers and the making of the American empire. Al-Ahram Weekly (797).

DalacouraKaterina. (2012). The 2011 uprisings in the Arab Middle East: political change and geopolitical implications. International Affairs88(1) 6379.

DowningJohnMohammadiAli & SrebernyAnnabelle. (1995). Questioning the media: a critical introduction/editors John Downing Ali Mohammadi Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi. Thousand Oaks, Calif. : Sage Publications.

EntmanRobert M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication43(4) 51.

EspositoJohn L. & MogahedDalia. (2007). Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Gallup Press.

FalahGhazi.-Walid. (2005). The Visual Representation of Muslim/Arab Women in Daily Newspapers in the United States. In FalahGhazi-Walid & NagelC.R. (Eds.) Geographies Of Muslim Women: Gender Religion And Space (pp. 300320). New York: Guilford Press.

FalahGhazi.-Walid. & NagelC.R. (Eds.). (2005). Geographies Of Muslim Women: Gender Religion And Space. New York: Guilford Press.

FanonFrantz. (1965). Algeria Unveiled. In ChevalierH. (Trans.) A dying colonialism (pp. 3564). New York, ny: Grove Press.

FoucaultMichel. (1972). The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language. Pantheon.

FoucaultMichel. (1980). Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977. New York: Pantheon Books.

Graham-BrownSarah. (1988). Images of women: the portrayal of women in photography of the Middle East 1860–1950. New York: Columbia University Press.

GoffmanEvring. (1974). Frame analysis: an essay on the organization of experience/Erving Goffman. New York: Harper & Row 1974.

HallStuart. (1997). Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London; Thousand Oaks: sage Publications.

Hanau SantiniRuth & HassanOz. (2012). Transatlantic Democracy Promotion and the Arab Spring. The International Spectator47(3) 6582.

HoodfarHoma. (1997). Between Marriage and the Market: Intimate Politics and Survival in Cairo. University of California Press.

HassoFrances. S. (2005). Discursive and political deployments by/of the 2002 Palestinian women suicide bombers/martyrs. Feminist Review81(1) 2351.

JiwaniYasmin. (2005a). The Great White North Encounters September 11: Race, Gender, and Nation in Canada’s National Daily, The Globe and Mail. Social Justice32(4) 5068.

JiwaniYasmin. (2005b). “War talk” engendering terror: race, gender and representation in Canadian print media. International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics1(1) 1521.

KabbaniRanna. (1986). Europe’s myths of Orient. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

KeddieNikki R. & BaronBeth. (Eds.). (1991). Women in Middle Eastern history: shifting boundaries in sex and gender. New Haven: Yale University Press.

LewisReina. (1996). Gendering Orientalism: race femininity and representation. New York: Routledge.

MahmoodSaba. (2005). Politics of piety: the Islamic revival and the feminist subject. Princeton, n.j.: Princeton University Press.

MairaSunaina. (2009). “Good” and “Bad” Muslim Citizens: Feminists, Terrorists, and u.s. Orientalisms. Feminist Studies35(3) 631656.

MernissiFatima. Scheherazade goes west : different cultures, different harems. New York : Washington Square Press2001.

MillerJane. (1990). Seduction: studies in reading and culture. London: Virago.

MohantyChandra Talpade. (1984). Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses. Boundary 2 12/13(3/1)333358.

MohantyChandra TalpadeRileyRobin L. & Minnie BrucePratt. (2008). Feminism and war: confronting us imperialism. London; New York: Zed Books.

MoreyDaniel S.ThyneClayton L.HaydenSarah L. and SentersMichael B.. (2012). Leader, Follower, or Spectator? The Role of President Obama in the Arab Spring Uprisings. Social Science Quarterly93(5) 11851201.

MorrisRosalind C. (2010). Introduction. In MorrisR.C. (Ed.) Can the subaltern speak?: reflections on the history of an idea (pp. 13). New York: Columbia University Press.

NelsonCynthia. (1996). Doria Shafik Egyptian feminist [electronic resource]: a woman apart. Cairo, Egypt: American University in Cairo Press.

OrtegaMariana and AlcoffLinda Martín. (2009). Constructing the Nation: A Race and Nationalism Reader. suny Press.

PetrasJames. (2011). Washington Faces the Arab Revolts: Sacrificing Dictators to Save the State. Journal of Contemporary Asia41(3) 483.

PrakashGyan. (1995). “Orientalism” Now. History and Theory: Studies in the Philosophy of History34(3) 199212.

RastegarMitra. (2008). Managing “American Islam.”International Feminist Journal of Politics10(4) 455474.

RudySayres S. (2007). Pros and Cons: Americanism against Islamism in the “War on Terror.”The Muslim World97(1) 3378.

SaidEdward W. (1978). Orientalism/Edward W. Said. New York : Pantheon Books.

SaidEdward W. (1997). Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World (Revised.). New York: Vintage.

SalimeZakia. 2010. “ Securing the Market, Pacifying Civil Society, Empowering Women: The Middle East Partnership Initiative.” Sociological Forum 2010. 725.

SkaineRosemarie. (2006). Female suicide bombers. Jefferson, n.c.: McFarland.

SalibaTherese. (2002). Introduction. In SalibaT.AllenC. & HowardJ.A. (Eds.) Gender politics and Islam (pp. 115). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

SalibaThereseAllenCarolyn and HowardJudith A. (Eds.). (2002). Gender politics and Islam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

SelimGamal M. (2013). The United States and the Arab Spring: The Dynamics of Political Engineering. Arab Studies Quarterly35(3) 255272.

ShiraziFaegheh. (2003). The Veil Unveiled: The Hijab in Modern Culture. University Press of Florida.

SpivakGayatri Chakravorty. (1985). The Rani of Simur: An Essay in Reading the Archives. History & Theory24(3) 247.

SpivakGayatri Chakravorty. (1988). Can the Subaltern Speak? In NelsonCary & GrossbergL. (Eds.) Marxism and the interpretation of culture (pp. 271317). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

SrebernyAnnabelle. (2004). Unsuitable Coverage: The Media, The Viel, and Regimes of Representation. In OrenT.G. & PetroP. (Eds.) Global currents media and technology now (pp. 171186). New Brunswick, n.j.: Rutgers University Press.

Sreberny-MohammadiAnnabelle. (1993). On reading `Islam and Communication’. Media Culture & Society15(4) 661.

TayehRaeed N. (2000). Jailed Professor Talks About Palestinian Authority’s Intolerance of CriticismWashington Report on Middle East. April pp. 2122.

ThompsonJohn B. (1990). Ideology and modern culture: critical social theory in the era of mass communication. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

TuchmanGay. (1978). Introduction: The Symbolic Annihilation of Women. In DanielsA.K.BenétJ. & TuchmanG. (Eds.) Hearth and Home: images of women in the mass media (pp. 145). New York: Oxford University.

TuckerJudith. E. (1998). In the house of the law: gender and Islamic law in Ottoman Syria and Palestine. Berkeley: The Rergents of the University of California Press.

VasilakiRosa. (2011). ‘ Victimization Versus Resistance: Feminism and the Dilemmatics of Islamic Agency.’ Paper presented at: The British International Studies Association Annual Conference. Manchester, uk2729 April 2011.

VivianBradford. (1999). The veil and the visible. Western Journal of Communication63(2) 115139.

DijkVanTeunA. (1991). Racism and the Press. Taylor & Francis.

DijkVanTeunA. (1993). Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis. Discourse & Society4(2) 249283.

DijkVanTeun A. (1997). Discourse as Social Interaction. sage.

WilkinsKaren. (1995). Middle Eastern Women in Western Eyes: A Study of u.s. Press Photographs of Middle Eastern Women. In KamalipourY.R. (Ed.) The u.s. Media and the Middle East (pp. 5161). Westport ct: Praeger.

WilliamsPaul R.1 and BetsyColleen. (2012). u.s. Foreign Policy and the Arab Spring: Ten Short-Term Lessons Learned. Denver Journal of International Law & Policy41(1) 4761.

YegenogluMayada. (1998). Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism. Cambridge University Press.

YoungRobert. (2004). White mythologies: writing history and the west (2nd ed.). London; New York: Routledge.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 26 26 5
Full Text Views 52 52 33
PDF Downloads 9 9 7
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0