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(Re)thinking Orientalism

Using Graphic Narratives to Teach Critical Visual Literacy


Rachel Bailey Jones

(Re)thinking Orientalism is a text that examines the visual discourse of Orientalism through the pedagogy of contemporary graphic narratives. Using feminist, critical race, and postcolonial theoretical and pedagogical lenses, the book uses visual discourse analysis and visual semiology to situate the narratives within Islamophobia and neo-Orientalism in the post-9/11 media context. In the absence of mainstream media that tells the complex stories of Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world, there has been a wave of publications of graphic narratives written and drawn from various perspectives that can be used to create curriculum that presents culture, religion, and experience from a multitude of perspectives. The book is an accessible, upper level undergraduate/graduate level text written to give readers insights into toxic xenophobia created through media representation. It provides a theoretical foundation for students to engage in critical analysis and production of visual media.
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4 Post-September 11th and the Visual Regime



Post-September 11th and the Visual Regime

This chapter focuses specifically on the deployment of visual representations of Muslims created by Western artists, journalists, and photographers for Western audiences. In this chapter, I analyze media coverage and images and find global connections for a rise of anti-Muslim sentiment. There has been a great deal of interest in regulating and controlling the terms of visual representation of Muslims in the West for Western audiences. “Since September 11, 2001, much of the West has been gripped by a stereotyping frenzy. In the United States, it has been particularly virulent” (Ewen & Ewen, 2006, p. 495). The visual representations focused on in this chapter were created and reproduced with the intent to be provocative and in some cases with the explicit intent of inciting Islamophobia.

There have been several important and disturbing cases of provocative Western media critiques of Islam in the post-9/11 era. The publication of political cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten was one of the most infamous instances of Western media provoking the anger and protest of many in the so-called Muslim world. Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard drew images of clerics with their faces turning into bombs. Apparently the artist did not intend for the newspaper to show the face of the Prophet, but it titled the series, “The Faces of Muhammed.” For Muslims who believe that it is a sin to create any image of the Prophet, ← 69 | 70 → the...

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