In this article, I theorize the phenomenon of specific women being taken up periodically to represent the collectivity of Muslim women—and, relationally, reveal characteristics about the collectivity of Muslim men—by focusing specifically on the figure of Malala Yousafzai, a fifteen-year-old girl who was shot in the head by a member of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, a tribal political formation in Pakistan, in 2012. Drawing on literature from the fields of affect studies and transnational feminist scholarship, and grounding myself theoretically in the work of Deleuze and Guattari, I provide molar and molecular readings of Malala's archives. I explore how affects of pain, shock, pity, compassion, and hatred cohere around Malala and make possible molar overcoding of Muslim women as oppressed and Muslim men as oppressors. However, reading Malala's coauthored autobiography, I Am Malala, against the grain unravels this molar over-coding and provides evidence that evades the very binaries of victim/savior, oppressed/oppressor, and progressive/traditional that the text seeks to create. Hence, it is only by choosing a molecular reading of Malala that we can attempt to deterritorialize or thwart normative claims made about the collectivity of Muslim women and men.
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Shenila Khoja-Moolji; Reading Malala: (De)(Re)Territorialization of Muslim Collectivities. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2015; 35 (3): 539–556. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-3426397
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