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“The Sheik Who Loved Me”: Romancing the War on Terror

Amira Jarmakani
Signs
Vol. 35, No. 4 (Summer 2010), pp. 993-1017
DOI: 10.1086/651044
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/651044
Page Count: 25
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“The Sheik Who Loved Me”: Romancing the War on Terror
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Abstract

Abstract Since 2001, sheikh‐themed romance novels have burgeoned in popularity to such an extent that they compose a standard subseries for major distributors such as Harlequin and its subsidiaries, Silhouette and Mills & Boon. If romance novels have long been the subject of vibrant feminist inquiry, the increased popularity of the sheikh character in mass‐market romances in recent years suggests their further relevance to contemporary U.S. political and military involvement in the Middle East. While the character of the sheikh is certainly not new in U.S. popular culture, I understand his recent resurgence as a complex signifier of the productive fantasies of transnational capitalism and global sisterhood, both of which imagine global unity while disavowing differential relations of power. I also read the sheikh romance novel as an allegory for the triumph of modern disciplinary forms of power, whereby the sheikh‐hero’s transformation comes through the form of a companionate, bourgeois ideal of marriage with a white heroine.

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