Diverse Representation of Muslim Women in the US Newspapers-A Corpus Based Critical Discourse Analysis

Madiha Neelam


The study presents an analysis of the diverse representation of Muslim women in various U.S. newspapers available at the Corpus of contemporary American English (COCA). The study attempted to know what kind of identities of Muslim women, and the Muslim world they are living in, are being portrayed in the American media. The study was conducted, on twenty-five texts from different U.S. newspapers available at the Corpus of contemporary American English (COCA), using a bi-directional approach i.e. the use of Critical Discourse Analysis on an already built Corpus. This study has used a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) model proposed by Van Leeuwen (1996) for investigating the portrayal of social actors in a given discourse. This study shows that the Muslim Women are portrayed under the influence of the war between West and Islam/Muslims. The major findings of this study show that Muslim Women are either being portrayed as the suppressed individuals or the victims of inequality practiced within Muslim Communities through religious practices. Moreover, there is hardly any instance found which presents Muslim Women in a positive shade, because the image of a Muslim Woman shown in the texts is of a miserable creature which may be an overtime proliferation of selected realities. The construction of Binaries of ‘US’ and ‘Other’ can also be seen and analyzed in almost all the texts; whereby US refers to the people of U.S. or West and is presented as good, supportive and wishing well to Muslim Women, whereas the counterpart ‘Other’ which refers either to the Muslim men or Islam and is presented as evil, vicious and suppressing their women. Thus, the overall portrayal of Muslim Women, investigated in the study, can be said to be partial, biased and fabricated, and is visibly under the influence of negative perceptions about Muslims and Islam in the west. The analysis of portrayal of the social actors in this study suggests proper scrutiny of media news by public especially when the news is about the ‘other’ communities or their people.

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