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The Unhomely Prototype: the ‘Seraglio’ and the Unsettling of Amina (Palace Walk)

Karabo Moumakwe



Distinction, Corobrik 2nd Prize, Examiner's Choice Award, RIBA's President's Medals Nominations 

Sarah De Villiers, Dr. Huda Tayob,

Naadira Patel, Adam Osman


18 - Hyperreal Prototypes


The Unhomely Prototype is a film and script of three acts, in which Amina, the protagonist of Naguib Mahfouz’s Palace Walk who experiences extreme purdah at the hands of her tyrannical husband and consequently ‘does not know much of the outside world’, is confronted by uncanny visions of a biographical figure, Huda Sha’arawi (1879-1924) from her memoirs The Harem Years.  Sha’arawi was an outspoken feminist who existed in Amina’s time but not of her world, who advocated for the liberation of the woman from the harem system and patriarchal gaze and rule depicted in both the memoirs and Palace Walk.

The film introduces these ‘visions’ by employing uncanny filmic and literature tactics (The Double, Imaginary and Recurring Manifestations, etc.) informed by the theoretical framework of Sigmund Freud’s Uncanny (1990) and Anthony Vidler’s The Architectural Uncanny (1992) in the home place; and to unsettle Amina with visions and scenes that represent crucial moments in  Huda Shaarawi’s documented life. The Unhomely Prototype proposes multiplicity and doubling of experienced time and geographies to not only unsettle the protagonist, but also to comment on female embodiment and navigation of patriarchal space and residual architectures that, through vanished time, haunt and affect our experiences today.

Amina and Huda. Moumakwe, K. Unit 18. 2020.

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