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SAC presents: Margaret A. Mills

341 Eggers Hall

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Margaret A. Mills Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Ohio State University Afghan Women between Victimhood and Agency The image of the burka-clad Afghan woman, silently peering from behind an embroidered lattice of thread, has been a powerful icon in justifying our military intervention in Afghanistan, and in selling books. Above and beyond its deployment in present political arenas, it partakes of some venerable, essentializing Euro-American stereotypes of the “oriental” woman as oppressed victim of “oriental” male dominance. This presentation takes the topic to Afghan women’s own articulations in the western popular press: How do those Afghan women whose words we are able to access, through memoirs, testimonies and other public speech and writing, address the issue of Afghan women’s needs and their own potential for social agency or lack thereof? What kinds of agency for action do Afghan women wield, claim or seek, and what do they regard or construct as Afghan cultural matters? What do Afghan women have to say about their needs, our intervention, and its impact? What kinds of readings might their published representations seem to receive in the West, and with what effect?

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