Identity Crisis and Memory : A Discussion of Anti-Islamism, Xenophobia and Racism in Leila Aboulela’s Short Story The Ostrich


  • Ali Gunes Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University


Anti-Islamism , identity, memory, racism, xenophobia


Last two decades have witnessed dramatic increases in anti-Islamism, xenophobia, and racism in Asia, Europe, and the USA particularly in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. This paper argues how Leila Aboulela represents this rising anti-Islamic, xenophobic and racist attitudes and discourses in her short story The Ostrich. the paper is simply divided into parts. The first part closely examines in the story how anti-Islamic, anti-Muslim and racial discourses and attitudes create a sense of identity crisis through Aboulela’s representation of her chief character Samra who feels herself psychologically and physically crippled, abused and alienated in the UK. The second part of the paper discusses how Aboulela invents a strategy of memory which keeps her character Samara psychologically alive, “intact” and “unchanged” in the face of humiliation, disgrace, ostracism and exclusion. In the story, Samra often recalls her beautiful memories with the Ostrich, her classmate at the college, as well as her memories of how her country provided her with a sense of belonging, dignity, grace, security and unity. As the paper discusses, therefore, memory heals Samra’s injured psyche and keeps her alive and intact amid her identity crisis caused by the rising anti-Islamic, xenophobic and racist attitudes and discourses in the UK.


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How to Cite

Gunes, A. (2020). Identity Crisis and Memory : A Discussion of Anti-Islamism, Xenophobia and Racism in Leila Aboulela’s Short Story The Ostrich. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 8(14), 25–39. Retrieved from