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How the West Undermined Women’s Rights in the Arab World

[Mother of the martyr. Photo by Nicola Pratt]

This article is based on some of the research that I have conducted over the past two years on women’s activism in Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan, from independence until the Arab uprisings. I collected over one hundred personal narratives from middle class women activists of different generations. This research was initially framed in terms of what is perceived to be a ‘gender paradox’: despite over a century of women’s activism, why do women in Arab countries continue to face some of the largest gender inequalities in the world? Decolonizing Gender in the Arab World   My research has sought to critically engage with two core assumptions underpinning the formulation ...

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Manifesto Against the Woman

[Image by Rana Jarbou.]

Weeks before the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Indian theorist Chandra Talpade Mohanty published her book, Feminism without Borders, in which she discusses the hegemony of Western feminism and its deadly transnational effects. In doing so, Mohanty did not reveal a truth that other feminists had somehow missed. She did, however, theorize what she called “third world difference”–that brute pedestal upon which western feminists stand as they survey the world. Mohanty uses the term to critique the problematic practices and relationships through which western feminism purports to speak for third world women. Mohanty describes this “difference” as “that stable, ahistorical ...

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Remembering Fatema Mernissi

[Fatima Mernissi, The Arab Weekly]

This tribute is to Fatema Mernissi: mentor, insightful teacher, organic intellectual, incisive feminist, powerful voice, charismatic presence, craftswoman, generous host, and friend.  Fatema Mernissi, a writer, professor, sociologist, and central figure of Arab feminism, passed away at the age of seventy-five on Monday, 30 November, in Rabat. Mernissi was a professor at the Mohammed V University of Rabat and a research scholar at the Institut Universitaire de Recherche Scientifique (IURS) in the same city. Fatema Mernissi will remain an inspirational figure to many of us whose lives she marked with her warm presence, ample generosity, and hilarious sense of ...

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في نقد ظاهرة النسويّة الإسلامية: الأخوات المسلمات مثالاً

[مصدر الصورة آ.ب]

في نقد ظاهرة «النسويّة الإسلاميّة»: «الأخوات المسلمات» مثالاً محددات أولية في اصطلاح "النسوية" و"النسوية الإسلامية" ما زال هناك صعوبة شديدة إلى الآن تواجه الباحثين والباحثات بشأن تحديد دقيق لما يعنيه اصطلاح «النسويّة Feminism»، وبخاصة في البلاد العربية والإسلاميّة. الصعوبة لا تكمن في نقل معاني المصطلح والتأريخ له في بلاد الغرب (1) والكيفية التي انتقل بها إلى بلاد العرب، بمقدار ما تكمن أولاً في تحديد الاستحقاق المعرفي له وما يترتب عليه؛ وثانياً، في إمكانية إدراج هذا الاستحقاق داخل السياق الإسلامي، المؤسَّس بنحو جوهريّ على مقتضيات «العقل القضيبي». لا بد من الإشارة للمعاني المستبطنة داخل مصطلح "النسوية" أثناء استخدامه في هذا المقال: ...

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New Texts Out Now: Amira Jarmakani, An Imperialist Love Story: Desert Romances and the War on Terror

[Cover of Amira Jarmakani,

Amira Jarmakani, An Imperialist Love Story: Desert Romances and the War on Terror. New York: New York University Press, 2015. J: What made you write this book?   Amira Jarmakani (AJ): The impetus for this book came when a dear friend and colleague, Evelyn Alsultany, sent me a link to a website called “Sheikhs and Desert Love.” The website, which now appears to be defunct, was operated by desert romance fan Erika Wittlieb from 2001-2007 and then seems to have been operated by Amazon for a few years. The latter shift demonstrates the popularity of desert romances (in other words, it was lucrative enough for Amazon to want to capture the desert romance fans who ...

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New Texts Out Now: Maha El Said, Lena Meari, and Nicola Pratt, Rethinking Gender in Revolutions and Resistance

[Cover of

Maha El Said, Lena Meari, and Nicola Pratt, editors, Rethinking Gender in Revolutions and Resistance: Lessons from the Arab World. London: Zed Books, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this book? Maha El Said, Lena Meari, and Nicola Pratt (MES/LM/NP): The book emerged initially out of a three-year project between the University of Warwick Centre for the Study of Women and Gender and Birzeit University Institute of Women’s Studies, funded by the British Academy, and entitled “Reconceptualizing Gender: Transnational Perspectives.” This project culminated in a workshop in July 2013 at the University of Warwick, entitled “Rethinking Gender in Revolutions and ...

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Salma Hayek and the Sexist Lebanese Citizenship Law

[Lebanese passport prior to 2006. Image by Stratforder via Wikipedia]

Last month, Salma Hayek visited Lebanon to promote the world premiere of The Prophet, the new animated film based on the poetry of Khalil Gibran. It was her first ever visit to the country.  The Lebanese greeted her with open arms as a long-lost daughter. The visit culminated with the rumor that Hayek had been offered Lebanese citizenship. The gesture is not surprising in and of itself. Lebanese citizenship is transmitted through paternal blood and Hayek’s paternal Grandfather was Lebanese. But is Hayek, who calls herself a feminist, aware that accepting the citizenship betrays Lebanese women who have been fighting in vain for decades for equal citizenship ...

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The Politics of Gendered Violence in Lebanon

[Protest in Beirut against violence against women. Image by Joelle Hatem]

Ali al Zein murdered his wife Sara Al-Amin on 18 May 2015. Her murder was shocking in its brutality. It is only one link in a long chain of visible and invisible violence against women in contemporary Lebanon. Structural conditions give birth to this violence. These conditions enshrine the legal impunity and social acceptability of female vulnerability to violence. Amin’s murder is an instance of intimate partner violence, the latest in a spate of wife killing across Lebanon. In addition to highlighting, yet again, the urgent need for sweeping legal change, this crime should shake people in Lebanon to the core. Here was a woman who was subject to her husband’s physical ...

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تاريخ النشاط السياسي واقتصاده السياسي في المغرب: مقابلة للوضع بين زكية سليم وسامية الرزوقي

تلقي زكية سالم في هذه المقابلة الضوء على الفروق الدقيقة التاريخية للنشاط الاجتماعي النسوي في المغرب. تتضمن المقابلة التالية أربعة أجزاء، بحيث يمكنكم أن تنقروا عليهما بشكل منفصل. بوسعكم أن تقرأوا أيضاً النص العربي المدوّن المرافق. زكية سليم أستاذة مساعدة في علم الاجتماع ودراسات النساء والجندر في جامعة رتغرز حيث تدرِّس الحركات النسوية، الجندر، العولمة، الحركات الاجتماعية، الامساواة العالمية، وما بعد الكولونيالية. تشمل اهتماماتها كباحثة العرق، والامبراطورية والاقتصاد السياسي والحرب على الارهاب، وسياسات ابتنمية، والحركات والمجتمعات الاسلامية، والشرق الاوسط والعلاقات الامريكية. إن كتاب سليم"بين النسوية والاسلام" يوضح تداخل الانظمة العالمية للحقوق والبدائل ...

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اختيار: مجلة نسوية عربية في نقد الأفكار الشمولية

أصدرت مجموعة "اختيار لدراسات وبحوث النوع" عبر موقعها الإلكتروني مجلة نسوية تحمل اسمها وتصدر عن القاهرة. في هذا العدد الأول، تقدم المجلة نفسها كمساحة لتوثيق "التجارب الشخصية والمعرفة والأفكار والنظريات" من أجل تقديم اتجاهات نسوية متعددة. ولا تقتصر هذه النسوية على المطالبة بحقوق المرأة بل تحاول استخدام قراءات النوع لخلق أدوات مقاومة ضد أشكال القمع فالنسوية المبتغاة هنا تفكك أشكال التمييز وتتنافى مع الأنظمة الشمولية. تفتتح العدد الباحثة سارة سالم بمقال عن التضامن النسوي حيث تطرح فيه نظرية التقاطع النسوية التي ظهرت في الولايات المتحدة خلال ثمانينات القرن الماضي. وكانت هذه النظرية قد جاءت كتفكيك لهيمنة المرأة البيضاء على النسوية وتعريفاتها وسياقاتها حيث ...

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In Memory of Ozgecan Aslan: Sexual Violence and the Juridical System in Turkey

[Ozgecan Aslan. Image via Flickr.]

This piece is written as a farewell to Ozgecan Aslan, a twenty-year-old university student, who was stabbed to death after she was raped. Her remains were found on 13 February, burnt and thrown into a river by three men. I slept with a heavy heart that night and woke up even grimmer and more outraged. Another terrible piece of news from Turkey, my home country, where nearly every day men brutally kill, sexually harass, and rape women. Where everyday acts of walking on the street, taking a bus, visiting a neighbor, wearing a pair of jeans, or holding the hand of your lover might easily be a “reason” for being raped, harassed, and murdered if you are a woman, transgender, ...

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New Texts Out Now: Andrea Khalil, Gender, Women, and the Arab Spring

[Cover of Andrea Khalil,

Andrea Khalil, editor, Gender, Women, and the Arab Spring. London and New York: Routledge, 2015. [Editors’ Note: This book was originally published as a special issue of The Journal of North African Studies 19.2 (2014). To mark the publication of this special issue as a book, we are reprinting a NEWTON piece written by the editor, Andrea Khalil, in May 2014.] Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this special issue?  Andrea Khalil (AK): During my fieldwork in Tunisia (2011-13) working on a book, I was sensitized to the profound problems that women in Tunisia were facing since the Revolution, and more generally, the urgency to address gender issues and ...

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الساعة العاطلة لا تظهر في الصورة

بحوث في الأمومة لإيمان مرسال يجّدُّ الإنسان فجأة في بحثه عن دلائل لحياته وعلاقاته بأهله ومحيطه، عبر دفاتر قديمة ربما، رسائل ومنقول شفاهي وصور. النص الأدبي والصورة هي من ضمن مفاتيح الشاعرة إيمان مرسال في مشروعها قيد البحث والكتابة حول موضوع الأمومة. هذه المفردة التي تبدو لأول وهلة مثل كتلة صلدة ملساء، ولكنها ما أن تلبث تستقر في مخيلتنا حتى تشتعل لتتدافع تداعياتها وتتقاذف بعد لحظات مثل لحظة انفجار كبير. إيمان مرسال الشاعرة لا تطأ مكاناً غير مزدحم بها أولا، وفي الوقت نفسه لابد وأن يكون مثخّناً، لا بالفرح ...

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A Closely Guarded Secret: Saving the Most Vulnerable Women in Baghdad - A STATUS/الوضع Conversation with Rania Abouzeid

In this interview, Mailhe Razazan speaks with Rania Abouzeid about her article "Out of Sight" in the New Yorker.  Rania Abouzeid is an award-winning journalist with over a decade's experience in the Middle East. She has held several fellowships, including the Ochberg at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and a visiting fellowship at the Eurpoean Council on Foreign Relations. She is currently a New America Fellow, writing a book about the Syrian uprising.  The ...

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Beyond the Exotic in Ottoman Baths

Bath houses or hammams were fundamental fixtures of cities and towns throughout the Ottoman world. Western travelers and writers were drawn to the exotic allure of bath houses as spaces associated with leisure and eroticism, which featured prominently in orientalist tropes concerning Europe’s Islamic other. This legacy of exoticism notwithstanding, new scholarship on Ottoman baths demonstrates that the hammam can serve as a site for fruitful and fascinating historical inquiry into the social ...

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دعوة للمساهمة في دورية "اختيار" الثانية

دعوة للمساهمة في دورية "اختيار" الثانية نحن نسويات ونسويون، نعمل من خلال مجموعة "اختيار" لدراسات وأبحاث النوع الاجتماعي، على تقديم وتوفير الإنتاج المعرفي المعني بالنوع الاجتماعي والجنسانية باللغة العربية من سياق محلي، كي نتشارك به مع المهتمين والمهتمات. وتركز رؤيتنا عن الإنتاج المعرفي باللغة العربية على مجابهة الامتيازات المتعلقة بكون المعرفة عن النوع الاجتماعي والجنسانية متاحة فقط لقلة من الأفراد والمجموعات. في آذار\ مارس 2015، أصدرت مجموعتنا الدورية الأولى ...

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Ekin Wan’in bedeninde ifsa olan devlet ya da kadinlar sira bizde

Ekin Wan’ın bedeninde ifşa olan devlet ya da kadınlar sıra bizde Antropolog Veena Das, tüm savaşların ancak özellikle etnik gruplar arası cereyan eden iç savaşların kadın bedeni üzerinde gerçekleştiğini söyler. Ulus devlet ulus kimliğini kurarken cinsiyet kimliklerini de kuran bir yapıdır: yasalar dahil olmak üzere ulusu betimleyen tüm metinler cinsiyetlendirilmiştir ve aynı zamanda milli kadınlık ve milli erkekliği de tanımlar. Polis ve asker milli kimliği korurken aynı zamanda milli kadınlık ve ...

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Gay Hanging in Iran: Atrocities and Impersonations

Everybody on earth knows that a deal on Iran’s nuclear program was announced in mid-July. Everybody also knows that this apparent step toward peace launched a new stage in an old war: of propaganda.Proponents praise the possibility of a historic opening. Opponents—who include Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Republican Party—warn of disaster. Both sides want to expand their constituencies. In Western countries, gay communities—small but politically influential—are more and more the target for just this ...

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الوضع الحلقة الثانية - العرض

"الوضع" مجلة صوتية شهرية مستقلة يصدرها مشروع تعاوني جماعي، وتسعى إلى خلق فضاء نقدي وتحليلي. ستتضمن أعدادها مواد تحليلية ونقدية وإخبارية، بالإضافة إلى مراجعات وقراءات وحوارات مع ناشطين وصحفيين وباحثين ومواطنين في العالم العربي وخارجه. ستتابع المجلة أهم القضايا في الحيز السياسي والاقتصادي والاجتماعي والإنتاج المعرفي والثقافي والمعلوماتي وانتشاره في وسائل الإعلام والتواصل الاجتماعي. كما تركز المجلة عي المؤثرين والمحركين في "المجتمع الأهلي" وغيره الذين يحفزون فضاءات وأمكنة وأنماطاً ...

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New Texts Out Now: Kenneth M. Cuno, Modernizing Marriage: Family, Ideology, and Law in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Egypt

Kenneth M. Cuno, Modernizing Marriage: Family, Ideology, and Law in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Egypt. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?  Kenneth M. Cuno (KC): Actually, I was planning to write a different book. But while researching it in Cairo I had a bit of free time and began exploring materials that had been collected and cataloged in the National Archives since my previous work there. I was curious about the registers of the ...

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Black Feminism Is: Reflections on the Black Feminist Think Tank Symposium

Introduction On 20-21 March 2015, hundreds gathered at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor to examine black feminism as an intellectual and political practice and to chart a way forward. As faculty, students, and activists from around the United States and beyond, we shared our frustrations with the isolation and invisibility (or, in some cases, notoriety) we have experienced as black women and women of color in higher education. Twenty years after the path-breaking conference “Black Women in the ...

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Illicit Sex in Ottoman and French Algeria: An Interview with Aurelie Perrier

The association of the Arab world with Western sexual fantasy figured prominently in the artwork and literature that was critiqued so famously by Edward Said in Orientalism. Yet beyond the fantasies embedded in Delacroix’s paintings of odalisques, what did sex actually mean in nineteenth-century Algeria? In Ottoman History Podcast #188, Aurelie Perrier begins to answer this question. Building on the groundbreaking work of scholars like Malek Alloula and Christelle Taraud, her research explores the ...

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New Texts Out Now: Smadar Lavie, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture

Smadar Lavie, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Smadar Lavie (SL): In February 1999 I was a star academic, on the eve of becoming a full tenured professor at University of California, Davis. I had to pack two suitcases, the family dog, and my son’s cello, and flee with him from Berkeley to save our lives. We were both victims of domestic violence that I kept secret from ...

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Memorandum on Equal Citizenship Rights for Libyan Women in the Constitution

[The following is an English translation of a memorandum that was issued by a group of concerned Libyan citizens to the Constitutional Drafting Assembly on 20 August 2014 with respect to the right of Libyan women to pass on citizenship to their children. The introduction that precedes the memorandum was written by Hanan Ghosheh, one of the people involved in the drafting of the memorandum. The original Arabic memorandum is reproduced at the end.] In the three years following the February 17 Revolution ...

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