The ASEAN Journal of Education ASEAN Journal of Education

A Cultural Translator in Mohja Kahf’s The Girl in The Tangerine Scarf

Hasnul Insani Djohar,


This paper focuses on the relationship between Muslims and Americans, especially the post-9/11 period. It will also raise the issue of a Muslim woman struggles working against the stereotypes of the framing of Muslims perpetually. The objective of this research is to analyze, using Post-colonial framework and an approach informed by Feminist studies, Mohja Kahf’s The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, in order to come to some conclusions about depictions of a Muslim American woman and her role as a cultural translator between Muslims and Americans. The research centers on the protagonist’s, Khadra, representations in Kahf’s The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf and her role as a cultural translator and interpreter between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans. The questions of this paper are addressed as the following: 1) How is Khadra depicted in the novel? 2) What are the problems that she faces? 3) What aesthetic strategies that the writer uses in acting as a cultural translator? In this story, Khadra, a Muslim activist, has an abortion and divorces her husband at a very young age; in response to these equally traumatic and transformative experiences, Khadra attempts to reinvent herself against the grain of traditional Muslim teaching and within the context of American liberal society. Simultaneously, Khadra also challenges the framing of Muslims in American society. By describing how a young Muslim American woman struggles to live in America and challenges the framing of Muslims, we glean a better understanding of Muslim life, which remain under “frame” because of certain political agenda and ideologies. Importantly, this Muslim story also represents other minorities who struggle to live and to achieve greater diversity in global mainstream society.

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Key words: Mohja Kahf, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, a Cultural Translator, Framing Muslims
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