Freeze framing Muslims

Sardar, Ziauddin and Davies, Merryl Wyn (2010) Freeze framing Muslims. Interventions, 12 (2) . pp. 239-250. ISSN 1369-801X [Article] (doi:10.1080/1369801X.2010.489698)


Western images of Islam and Muslims have been frozen in history and are recycled with mundane regularity. These ‘freeze frames’ emerged at the beginning of Islam and have, over centuries, acquired certain key elements and descriptors. Association of Islam with promiscuity and licentiousness was common during the eight and tenth centuries. The Crusades added war-like violence to the picture, and embedded Islam within the concept of evil. Two further elements, barbarism and despotism, were supplied by the humanist movement of the fourteenth century and the Enlightenment. We explore how Hollywood used the historic authority of the freeze frames to establish a convention for representing Islam and Muslims during its formative years in such iconic films as Fatima's Dance (1907), The Sheikh (1921) and The Thief of Bagdad (1924). The convention was expanded and developed further in blockbusters like Dream Wife (1953) and El Cid (1961). It is now so well established as shorthand descriptors of Islam and Muslims that one only has to locate a film in a Muslim city, like Bagdad, Cairo, Algiers or Casablanca, for all the elements of the freeze frames to come into play. The movies had made freeze frames an integral part of western popular imagination and consciousness.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue: Muslims in the Frame
Keywords (uncontrolled): Hollywood; Islam; Muslim representation; Orientalism; western imagination
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
ISI Impact: 0
Item ID: 8196
Depositing User: Devika Mohan
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2011 07:16
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:23

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