Negotiating the Hyphens in a Culture of Surveillance: Embodied Surveillance and the Representation of Muslim Adolescence in Anglophone YA Fiction
In the era defined by the war on terror, border security, and increased Western cultural anxiety, the discourses of politics, race, and gender influence the representation of non-normative bodies, notably in the signification of female Muslim adolescent bodies as sites of political, racial, and cultural contestation within a culture of surveillance. Mirroring Western society, Anglophone YA fiction typically privileges white normative portrayals of Western adolescence. Fostered in a culture of suspicion, the revitalized orientalist tropes depict Muslim adolescent girls as bodies to “save,” “fear,” and “Westernize.” An emerging group of YA novels presents a substantive challenge to this tradition by seeking to disrupt patriarchal, white normative conceptualizations of Western adolescence. Through an analysis of Randa Abdel-Fattah’s When Michael Met Mina and S. K. Ali’s Saints and Misfits, this article explores the ways in which the female Muslim adolescent body is constructed as a product of surveillance, problematizing the experiences of embodied surveillance and the complexities of being identified as a part of racialized surveillant assemblages.