Fatima Mernissi’s impact on scholarship and writing on Arab and Muslim women has been so profound that it is almost easy to overlook. Eclectic in her interpretations and her methodologies, Mernissi wrote variously as a sociologist and a historian, a literary scholar and a novelist. Her expansive interdisciplinarity, willingness to challenge entrenched taboos wherever she found them, and real gift for narrative writing together allowed her to make significant contributions in multiple fields. Rather than playing the game of academic hyperspecialization, though, she has been our feminist Scheherazade: committed to undermining patriarchal authority by weaving together the textual threads of multiple women’s lives (some of them unknown and others reclaimed from venerable tradition) to create an alternative model of both the storyteller and the story.

Her first book, Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society (1975),...

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