Beyond Patriarchy How Borders Torment Paperless Refugee Women in the Era of Globalization

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Jyhene Kebsi


Le Voile de la Peur (Veil of Fear) by Samia Shariff (2006) is the French autobiography of an abused Algerian wife who describes her forced “illegal” migration to Canada in search of asylum. Shariff’s testimony has so far been seen as the life narrative of an oppressed female fugitive fleeing Islamic “misogyny.” In this article, I offer a more complex assessment that sees Veil of Fear as a border text that unveils the paradoxes of a globalized and yet heavily policed world. My exploration of Shariff’s autobiography emphasizes the contradictions of globalization, which call for borderlessness while policing the mobility of citizens of poor countries. My transnational feminist reading of Shariff’s clandestine journey highlights the intersectional nature of the oppressive forces that torment Algerian women and the wrongness of reducing the problems of Muslim female asylum seekers to patriarchy. My investigation of the difficulties which Shariff faced in migrating to Canada generates a reading of the unauthorized crossing as a bodily act through which paperless women challenge local gendered and global spatial hierarchies.


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