Written on the body

A queer and cartographic exploration of the Palestinian diaspora in Randa Jarrar’s A Map of Home (2008) and Him, Me, Muhammad Ali (2016)

in Queer Muslim diasporas in contemporary literature and film
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This last chapter explores the construction of the queer female diasporic body in Randa Jarrar’s debut novel, A Map of Home, and in her short-story collection Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. It is argued that Jarrar constructs it as the simultaneous repository of Palestinian dispossession and of Arab and Islamicate homosexual repression. It analyses how Jarrar’s narrators express shame about their same-sex desire without knowing where it comes from, and it is argued it stems from internalised heteropatriarchal Muslim and Arab cultural values. In the face of Islamicate homophobia, Jarrar offers irreverent queer exegesis which contravenes the heterosexist bias of traditionalist religious interpretation. It is also argued that national maps are forfeited in favour of the mapping of queer subjectivities. The mapping of bodies against the prescription of nation-states helps us consider queer subjectivities in all their diasporic complexity, heeding, specifically, what it means to be queer, Arab, and of Palestinian and Muslim heritage, simultaneously. It is suggested Jarrar’s texts vindicate the queer female Muslim body as needing to claim ownership of itself, over and above inherited narratives of national dispossession and heteropatriarchal violence.

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