Kathleen Jamie’s Travel Writing In ‘Shia Girls’ Essay

This essay is based on the ideas of reporting and producing which are analyzed in Kathleen Jamie’s travel writing in her book Among Muslims. By talking to real “Shia Girls”, Jamie observes how their lives are different then hers. Jamie wants to understand the lives of the Shia Girls and see what their culture is like in Pakistan. In the chapter “Shia Girls,” there are many stereotypes on Western influence. Jamie interviews and observes some of the Shia Girls to talk about their everyday lives. An example of stereotypes towards Western influences is the women on the bus.

Jamie characterizes one woman: “She wore immodest jeans, had short hair and argued; ergo, she must be a foreigner” (72). This would be an example of stereotypes towards Western influence because the woman did not wear the same clothing and did not have the same hairstyle as the Shia Girls. The woman argued with the bus driver which is unusual to the Shia Girls, because they must have respect towards the men in their country. There was also another woman on the bus who was with her husband. The bus had stopped at a tea shop. While everyone left the bus, she still remained in her seat.

Her husband did not bring her any tea. This was because the men were not courtesy to the women. It was unusual to see the women on the bus because the women in Pakistan usually don’t travel. This is why they believed the woman was a foreigner, because she does not follow the traditional customs of the Shia Girls. “We are Shia Girls” (97) means this is what the women are known as in Pakistan. Rashida, a woman who Jamie will interview, says “We live a simple and Islamic life” (62). This means the women who live in Pakistan are not independent. The Shia Girls lives with their families until they are married.

They believe they are happy and they do not face any problems in their life. This is an important piece of Jamie’s writing because it shows how the women in Pakistan do not have any independence in their country. Jamie uses travel writing to describe others. She had set up an interview with a woman named Jamila who is able to tell about the Shia Girls lives. Jamie wanted to know about Rashida’s relationship with her husband. Jamila describes him and the women began to gossip about men.

Jamila then says “With him in the room the women were different, less talkative, slightly mpatient (78)” meaning the women went from talkative to quiet because a man walked in the room and they must respect him. The him would be considered Rashida’s older sister’s husband. This is because they live in a male dominated country. “You know, Shia people, we have a system of temporary marriage” (79). This means the men did not respect the women because they were dominant and could do whatever they wanted. She also said “Man and woman agree, by mutual consent , and marriage is dissolved (79)” meaning both men and women agrees that their marriage should be short.

This is where reporting and producing come into play. Reporting would imply that Jamie is gathering all of the facts that the Shia girls told her. Places where Jamie appears to be reporting are on the bus with the two women and talking with the Pakistani people about how they should live their lives. Producing, by contrast, means producing the differences between two different cultures. The place where she produce is when the Shia girls tell her how they must act when the men come around. However, Jamie does face some challenges with reporting and producing.

This includes reporting on a male-dominant country. The women in Pakistan must obey and respect the men. The women there do not have a say in anything. For example, the major who was talking to Jamie said “Thank you. You have free choice. I suppose it is a good system. In our system, our parents makes the arrangements” (90). In other words, Jamie is free to choose how she wants to live her life. However the men and women do not have free choice. Their parents tell them who they will marry and how they will live their lives.

Jamie would be viewed as a foreigner to the Pakistan’s because the women and men in Pakistan are not able to make decisions such as who they will marry or how they will live their life. Pratt’s essay, “The Contact Zone”, argues for heterogeneity. Pratt describes the differences between cultures. Her essay is based on cultural relativism, meaning her essay is based on cultures that are permitted to their own traditions and ideologies. Pratt would think that Jamie’s traveling is excellent because her travel writing describes the differences between her culture and and the Shia Girls.

Jamie gathers information from the Shia Girls about their traditions. For example, Jamila said “But I have notice these things: in your society, women after marriage have boyfriends! Yes? And are fond of negroes. Well negroes are humans too. And old people are sent away” (79). This means the after a divorce in Pakistan, the women do not have boyfriends. They are fascinated by how another country enjoys being around others races and how the elderly are sent somewhere to be taken care of instead of being in a place where they are not being taken care of and dying.

Jamie’s essay would be consider a “reporting” essay because her ideas are based on describing the lives of another culture rather than producing which is comparing the lives of two different cultures. She has interviews with a few of the Shia Girls and can now understand their lives and see how it is different from hers. However, Jamie’s ideas with “producing” are different because she really didn’t compare her culture to the Shia girl’s culture. She mostly describes their life as a Shia girl.