Horror and likeness

The quest for the Self and the imagining of the Other in the sheltering sky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article analyses Bernardo Bertolucci's 1990 film The sheltering sky, an adaptation of a novel of the same title by the American author Paul Bowles. The story revolves around an American couple, Port and Kit Moresby, who embark on an expedition into the Sahara Desert. In an attempt to rekindle the passion in their disintegrating marriage, the Moresbys throw themselves into an array of exotic experiences that end in disillusionment and sometimes ruin. The film's construction of the Arab/Muslim Other, through the eyes of Western travellers, can be seen as an exploration of the Self, made possible through the distancing effect of cultural difference. The Moresbys' inner conflicts are thus metaphorically enacted through their encounters with the local people. Yet, it is argued that the dynamics that underlie the characters' imagining of their cultural Others (especially the dialectic of attraction and repulsion) can be seen as operating, not only in Orientalist accounts, but in intercultural encounters in general - especially those marked by unequal power relations. It is proposed that adopting a psychological framework can help overcome the limitations of approaches usually applied to the study of intercultural relations in this field, especially Orientalist discourse analysis and postcolonial studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-258
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Arts
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

dialectics
desert
cultural difference
discourse analysis
Muslim
marriage
experience
Imagining
Orientalist
Likeness
Travellers
Attraction
Novel
Dialectics
Expedition
Marriage
Psychological
Passion
Muslims
Power Relations

Keywords

  • Arab
  • Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Intercultural representation
  • Orientalism
  • Paul Bowles
  • Psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Horror and likeness : The quest for the Self and the imagining of the Other in the sheltering sky. / Shamma, Tarek.

In: Critical Arts, Vol. 25, No. 2, 06.2011, p. 242-258.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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