Women's orients: English women and the Middle East, 1718-1918: Sexuality, religion and work

Billie Melman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


In this highly acclaimed study, Billie Melman recovers the unwritten history of the European experience of the Middle-East during the colonial era. She focuses on the evolution of Orientalism and the reconstruction - through contact with other cultures - of gender and class. Beginning with the eighteenth century Billie Melman describes the many ways in which women looked at oriental people and places and developed a discourse which presented a challenge to hegemonic notions on the exotic and 'different'. Through her examination of the writings of famous feminist writers, travellers, ethnographers, missionaries, archaeologists and Biblical scholars, many of which are studied here for the first time, Billie Melman challenges traditional interpretations of Orientalism, placing gender at the forefront of colonial studies. 'This book provides a real extension to Edward Said's writing not only in the sense of challenging Edward Said's perspective, but also by adding a significant empirical and conceptual element to the discussion on orientalism. Those interested in women's history, in the cultural politics of cross-cultural encounters and in feminist or cultural theory will find much to engage them, inform them and challenge them in Melman's book.' - Joanna De Groot, Times Higher Education Supplement 'Using the perspectives of both gender and class Melman sets an alternative view of the Orient against that of Said... a much less monolithic and much more complex and heterogenous than that of Said' - Francis Robinson, Times Literary Supplement 'Women's Orients is an important contribution to our understanding of Orientalism. Melman's work is characterized by a fruitful bringing together of the skills of the historian with the sensitive reading of the British women writers...' - Catherine Hall, The Feminist Review 'An excellent work... This book is a must for anyone interested in women's history, both English and Middle Eastern. It is well written and well argued and effectively does what it promises to do' - Afaf Lutfi Al-Sayyid Marsot, The International History Review 'Women's Orients, a project of recovery and analysis, is an important consideration of European women traveller's writing on the Middle East. It provides a rich and detailed interpretation of a feminine version of the Orient' - Sherifa Zuhur, MESA Bulletin 'The book raises provocative issues and suggests complexities that deepen our understanding of colonial changes and representations' - Dorothy O.Helly, American Historical Review.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHoundmills, Basingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages417
ISBN (Electronic)9781349101573
ISBN (Print)9781349101597
StatePublished - 1992


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