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Between Rites and RightsExcision in Women's Experiential Texts and Human Contexts$
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Chantal Zabus

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780804756877

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804756877.001.0001

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Spoken Autobiographical Acts

Spoken Autobiographical Acts

Nayra Atiya's ‘Khul-Khaal'

(p.124) Six Spoken Autobiographical Acts
Between Rites and Rights
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines “spoken autobiographical acts” and the demotic eloquence of women who share their experiences about excision with a female amanuensis-cum-ethnographer in a post-colonial context. It looks at Egyptian journalist Nayra Atiya's 1982 book Khul-Khaal, which transcribes and translates the stories told by five Egyptian women who act as “native informants.” Atiya's subjects are all women from Egypt, and Khul-Khaal documents their transitions of excision, menarche, defloration, pregnancy, birth, lactation, and menopause. By erasing her own autobiography, Atiya has inadvertently supported traditional anthropologists who were reluctant to consider autobiography in their fieldwork. Through the housekeeper Suda in Khul-Khaal, she challenges general assumptions about gender and sexuality.

Keywords:   spoken autobiographical acts, Nayra Atiya, Khul-Khaal, excision, women, Egypt, informants, autobiography, gender, sexuality

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