Press Release: Massad, Desiring Arabs
The shocking human rights violations at Abu Ghraib and the use of sexual humiliation to interrogate inmates at Guantánamo Bay have become notorious flashpoints in the debate over America’s recent interventions in the Arab world. That these abhorrent techniques were specifically adopted for their effectiveness against Arabs points to a racist and sexually charged power dynamic at the root of the U.S. conquest of Iraq—a dynamic born from centuries of Western assumptions about Arab sexuality.
These assumptions have been disputed ever since Edward Said’s Orientalism sparked fierce debate over the biases at the heart of Western study of the Arab world. But left out of this argument was the history of how Arabs themselves wrote and thought about their own sexual desires. In Desiring Arabs, Joseph Massad brings to light the other side of the story by investigating a massive compendium of overlooked Arabic writing from the nineteenth century to the present. This unprecedented study is a much-needed look at how Western discourse on sex has shaped the Arab world.
Read the press release.