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Fatema Mernissi






Fatema Mernissi's 2010 Bio Update
The quickest way to update my biography is to answer the following question: What is the most striking event of this 21st Century's First Decade to have affected my career as a writer? My answer is that it is the digital revolution.

The Digital Revolution as the Major Event of the 21st Century's First Decade

The Digital Revolution (the Internet and the 500 Pan Arab satellite Channels as I explain below), is definitely the major event which affected my career and it did so by introducing Four unexpected opportunities I could not have imagined and which confirm my optimistic vision that the new technologies are helping us to avoid the stupid "Clash of Civilizations" and start building a "Concord of Civilization"
  • The first is the interest of Non-Moslem Asian countries (China, Japan and India) in translating my books.
  • The second is the interest of the West's Art World in my book, "Scheherazade Goes West".
  • The third is the Western citizens' eagerness to connect with rural Morocco's civic society: "Sindbads Marocains" as a tourist's guide. The interest of Western citizens in "Scheherazade Goes West" and "Sindbads Marocains" reveals that the digital technology has increased their desire to go beyond the traditional stereotypes of violent Islam.
  • The fourth is the opportunity induced by the Digital Revolution in the marketing of Moslem intellectuals.
All these positive changes prompted my decision to focus on "Love in Islamic Heritage" as the theme of my new book.

The Digital Revolution: The Internet and the 500 Pan Arab Satellite Channels.

What do I mean by 'Digital Revolution' and why it boosted the Arab world's intellectual capital? By 'Digital Revolution', I mean both the Internet and the 500 Pan Arab Satellite Channels that on one hand have connected for the first time in the world's history the planet's non-Arab Moslems to this language. And on the other, these 500 Pan Arab satellites channels and the Internet have allowed the migrant Arab diasporas living in the West to connect to their original homelands' cultures (Rawan Manna's Features in MEB (Middle East Broadcasters Association) JOURNAL, March-April 2008 (http://www.mebjournal.com). According to Khalid Belkhyour, the CEO of Arabsat which already ranks as the 9th largest satellite provider in the world: "The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) media market is the most dynamic in the world ... the number of free-to-air TV channels has skyrocketed from only slightly more than a 100 to more than 500 today, with recent projections from Arab advisors to quickly pass the 1,000 threshold within the coming years." Another source claims that above 7000 channels are to be expected by 2012. And to my great surprise, as a woman born in 1940, when the telephone, as the fruit of Western communication technology, inflated in my childhood the domination of the French military generals who colonized Morocco-our recent 21st century digital technology seem on the contrary to increase the European and American citizens's civic desire to better understand Moslems. This is how I explain the way they reacted lately to the books I published. Let's start with the Asians' reaction.

The first is the interest of Non-Moslem Asian countries (China, Japan and India) in translating my books: I found it absolutely normal that Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country and the first when it comes to the largest population of Moslems (230 millions according to the UN, 2009), was among the first Asian countries to translate my book of fiction, "Dreams of Trespass," in 1999. But what surprised me is that in 2003 the Indonesian publisher Mizan decided to republish it as a paperback! Could this have been possible without the impact of the Digital Revolution, which strengthened the connections between the Arab and non-Arab Moslems? Also, I found it natural that a Moslem country like Bangladesh would be interested in translating my book, "Beyond the Veil," which examines the probity of the sources of Women's rights in Islam. But what I did not expect is the interest of publishers from Japan, China and India - an interest I trace to the Digital Revolution as an engine of " civilization concord!" When I started enquiring about what triggered the interest in these translations, I discovered that in the case of China, the translator, Ms Situ Shuang was the wife of this country's ambassador to Morocco in the 1980s. And when I had the chance in 2010, to meet Ms Situ and her husband during their visit to Morocco, I discovered that China's former Ambassador to Morocco spoke perfect Arabic, which explains his capacity to enhance cultural endeavors. As for what triggered the interest of the Indian publishers in translating "Beyond the Veil" into Malayam, the language of Kerala, I was told by the translator that it could be the fact that most of the Indian workers in the oil rich Arab Gulf are from that region.

The 2003 Indonesian Paperback Translation of "Dreams of Trespass"

The 2008 Chinese Translation of "Dreams of Trespass"

The 2009 Indian Kerala Translation of "The Veil and The Male Elite"

The Japanese Translation of "Dreams of Trespass"
The second is the West's Art World interest in "Scheherazade Goes West"
I stated in this book the challenging viewpoint that the Western man has his own harem he idolizes by worshipping the Orientalist paintings he keeps in his expensive Museums. I expected the Western art experts to attack me by trying to negate my theory. But it is the opposite which happened: The Barcelona Museum invited me in 2003 to be the curator of an exhibition on "Scheherazade" so as to explain better my point of view of the "Western Man's Harem" to the West. The Tate Galley invited me in 2008 to contribute to their exhibition catalogue on "The Lure of The East". Later on it was the New York Powerhouse gallery who invited me in 2009 to write the introduction of their catalogue on the Moroccan Artist Lalla Essaydi, to explain to the West the dazzlingly creative art of the younger generation of Moslem women who combine inventively their Oriental cultural heritage with the West's new technologies.
"Scheherazade Goes West. Different Cultures, Different Harems"
The 2003 Barcelona "Harem Fantasies" Exhibition, Barcelona Center for Contemporary Art

The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting". Tate Gallery Exhibition 2008
The third is the Western Tourist's eagerness to connect with rural Morocco's civic society: Of the two books I wrote to give visibility to civic actors, "Les Ait Débrouille: ONG Rurales du Haut Atlas" (2003) and "Les Sindbads Marocains: Voyage Dans le Maroc Civique"(2004), only the last one, which was translated into Spanish and Italian, emerged as a source of information for tourists. As for the collective books which are the results of workshops I conducted for civic groups, both the "Trésors et Merveilles de la Vallée du Drâa"(2004) and "A Quoi Rêvent Les Jeunes"(2008), proved to be useful for young European students doing research on rural Morocco.

"Les Ait Débrouilles: ONG Du Haut Atlas"(2003)

"Les Sindbads Marocains. Voyage Dans le Maroc Civique"(2004)

"Trésors et Merveilles de la Vallée du Drâa"(2004)
Collective book as a result of writing workshops

"A Quoi Rêvent les Jeunes"(2008)
Collective book as a result of writing workshops

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