AMEWS Association for Middle East Women's Studies

AMEWS Conference


June 21, 22, 23, 2022 in Beirut, Lebanon

Click Here For Schedule: AMEWS Conference Program Final

Below You Will Find Bios and Abstracts of Presenters and Chairs

Opening Ceremony

Myriam Sfeir, Director, Arab Institute for Women, Lebanese American University

Myriam Sfeir joined the Arab Institute for Women (AiW) in 1996. She is currently the Director of AiW. Previously she served as senior managing editor of Al-Raida, the double-blind peer-reviewed journal published by AiW. She has over twenty five years of experience working in the area of women’s rights issues and gender equality and ample experience doing research, expert analysis and trainings. She has worked on several groundbreaking projects that dealt with various subjects considered taboo in the Arab world (sexuality, honor killings, incarcerated women, homosexuality, etc.). She has organized several international and regional conferences, film festivals, and lectures at LAU. Myriam is knowledgeable on issues related to human rights, gender-based violence, and sexuality. Myriam earned her Bachelor degree in Philosophy from the American University of Beirut and her Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

Jennifer Olmsted, AMEWS President and Professor; Director of the Middle East Studies/Social Entrepreneurship Program, Drew University

Growing up in Beirut, Lebanon profoundly shaped Jennifer C. Olmsted’s career trajectory. Much of her research focuses on the short and long term the impact of armed conflict on economic outcomes through a gender lens. After completing her BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, she received her Master’s in Agricultural Economics and her PhD in Economics from the University of California, Davis. Her PhD focused on the Palestinian economy and her recent work examines the challenges created by the Syrian refugee crisis. Dr. Olmsted is currently Professor of Economics and Director of Middle East, Arabic and Drew’s Social Entrepreneurship semester, as well as the President of the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS). She previously served as the Gender Advisor at the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Among other outlets, her work has been published in Feminist Economics, History of the Family, Journal of Development Studies, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Review of Social Economy, Women’s Studies International Forum, and World Development.

Amaney Jamal, Former AMEWS President and Dean & Professor, Princeton University

Amaney A. Jamal is Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics, and Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She is the former Director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice. Jamal also directs the Workshop on Arab Political Development and the Bobst-American University of Beirut Collaborative Initiative. Jamal is the co-Principal of the Arab Barometer  Project (Winner of the Best Dataset in the Field of Comparative Politics (Lijphart/Przeworski/Verba Dataset Award 2010), and has secured over 4 million dollars in grants for this and other projects from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), National Science Foundation (NSF), NSF: Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS), Qatar National Research Fund, (QNRF), United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Luce Foundation. In 2006, Jamal was named a Carnegie Scholar. She holds a Phd from the University of Michigan (2003). Her areas of specialization are the Middle East and North Africa, mass and political behavior, political development and democratization, inequality and economic segregation, Muslim Immigration (US and Europe), gender, race, religion, and class.

Fatima Sadiqi, Past AMEWS President & Conference Chair and Professor, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University

Fatima Sadiqi is a linguist and specialist in gender and women’s studies with a focus on North Africa and the larger Middle East. She is affiliated to the University of Fez. Among her many books are Women, Gender and Language (Brill, 2003), Women’s Activism and the Public Sphere: Local/Global Linkages (Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 2006), Women and Knowledge in the Mediterranean (Routledge, 2013), Moroccan Feminist Discourses (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and Women’s Movements in the Post – “Arab Spring” North Africa (2016). Sadiqi’s work has been supported by numerous prestigious awards and fellowships from Harvard University, The Woodrow Wilson Center, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, and Fulbright. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Oxford Encyclopedia of African Women’s History.

Keynote Speaker: Amel Grami, Professor, University of Manouba

Amel Grami Prof. Dr. is a professor of Gender Studies at Faculty of Literatures, Arts and Humanities at the University of Manouba, Tunisia. Her field of interest is Gender Studies (Gender in Islam, Gender and religion), Women’s Studies (women in Maghreb, Africa) She is the Coordinator of the of MA Gender Studies Program, the Editor of Humanities: revue de littératures et sciences sociales and Gender Lens. She is the author of many articles and books among them: Gender Equality in Tunisia, Gender and Diversity, the debate on religion, law and gender in post-revolution Tunisia.

JUNE 21: PANEL 1 (LAU – AKSoB 903) Building Radical Feminist Futures: The Politics of Graduate Student Experience    A Graduate Student Committee Roundtable

Chair/Discussant: Suad Joseph, University of California, Davis

Suad Joseph is Distinguished Research Professor at the University of California, Davis. She has edited or co-edited 12 book and authored over 100 articles. The most recent books are The Politics of Engaged Gender Research (2022, I.B. Tauris), Handbook of Middle East Women (2022, Routledge), Arab American Women (2021, Syracuse). She has been General Editor of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures over 25 years. She founded the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies and co-founded its journal, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. She founded the Arab Families Working Group, the University of California Davis Arab Region Consortium, and the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association. She has been awarded numerous prizes, including the UC Davis Teaching and Research Prize, The Middle East Studies Association Jere Bacharach Life Time Service Award, and the UC Davis Edward Dickson Award. She has received life-time service and research awards from the Arab American Studies Association (which she co-founded) and the Middle East Section of the AAA.


Esraa Al-Muftah, Qatar University & University of British Columbia

Esraa Al-Muftah is a PhD candidate in Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. She is completing a dissertation on the internationalization of Qatar University in which she examines the relationship between academic mobility, internationalization, and knowledge production. Esraa earned her M.A. in Sociology and Education with a concentration in Educational Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2014. Prior to that, she completed her B.A. in Psychology with a Diploma in Special Education from the American University of Beirut in 2011.

Laila Mourad, York University

Laila Mourad is a PhD candidate at York University who adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the international development, political economy, and gender studies fields. Her research interests include alternative economies, social reproduction, as well as the localization of development. Recently, Laila is exploring how home-based labor in the ‘gig’ economy can inform and shape our understanding of the evolving notion of ‘work’. She examines how existing and emerging technologies transform the ways we envision household economies, societal relationalities and their role in development. In her personal life she coaches, trains and competes in kickboxing, to cultivate resilience and wellness.

Rana Sharif, University of California, Riverside & California State U, Northridge

Rana A. Sharif (she, her, هي (is a Los Angeles-born, interdisciplinary scholar, educator, and social justice activist. She is currently completing her doctoral degree in Comparative Literature and Languages from the University of California, Riverside. Her research explores the method and medium of new and digital media in the context of Palestine. Through a Palestinian digital poetic, Rana’s work illustrates the creative ways Palestinian sociality, restorative memory-work, and collective determination are being generated by academics, artists, practitioners, and creatives online. In addition to her academic work, she is faculty in the department of Gender and Women’s Studies at California State University, Northridge where she is a CSU Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program Fellow. Rana also hosts and produces shows for SWANA Region Radio on KPFK-Los Angeles (90.7 FM) and she currently serves as the President of the board of directors of the ACLU of Southern California.

Sarah Kaddoura, Lebanese American University

June 21: PANEL 2 (LAU – AKSoB 904) Constructing Sex, Gender, and Sexuality Past and Present

Chair/Discussant: Hanadi Al-Samman, University of Virginia

Hanadi Al-Samman is an associate professor of Arabic Language and Culture in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on contemporary Arabic literature, diaspora and sexuality studies, as well as transnational and Islamic feminism(s). She published several articles in Journal of Arabic Literature, Women’s Studies International Forum, Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, and various edited collections. She is the co-editor of an International Journal of Middle East Studies’ special issue “Queer Affects,” 2013, The Beloved in Middle Eastern Literatures: The Culture of Love and Languishing. London: I.B. Tauris, 2018, Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History. New York: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2019, and author of Anxiety of Erasure: Trauma, Authorship, and the Diaspora in Arab Women’s Writings. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2015, paperback edition, 2019.


Hussam Eldin Helmy, “(En)gendering Orientalism: The Representation of Women in Amin Maalouf’s Samarkand”

Hussam Eldin Helmy is an independent scholar. His work focuses on the intersection of postcolonial feminist criticism and reader-response criticism, particularly as they pertain to historical fiction. His presentation is part of a larger research paper that received the Kuwait Program at Sciences Po Student Paper Award. He is currently working on publishing his paper, and hopes to pursue graduate studies in mental health.

ABSTRACT: Samarkand (1988) is a provocative novel that commands significant cultural purchase along with its author, a Lebanese-born French public intellectual regarded as a cultural emissary to Europe on behalf of Arabs. Still, there has been little English-language critical engagement with his work. This inconsistency needs to be addressed urgently due to problematic representations of women that portend to sinister ramifications. Samarkand is comparable to Maalouf’s earlier “historical essay,” The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (1983); in both texts, political and cultural concerns contemporary to the writing of these texts inform the narrative (re)construction of past events within them. As the texts were published in French, these concerns are addressed to Western readers, making the texts function didactically, especially through centering Arab chronicles and decentering Western historical narratives. Recent critics of Crusades point out that it occludes or otherwise misrepresents the actions of several women active during the Crusades, though they are documented in the sources that it extensively uses. Using an augmented reader-centric approach that draws on the work of Leila Ahmed and Meyda Yeğenoğlu, I argue that Samarkand goes further than Crusades, rhetorically constructing the women it represents, fictional or historical, to cater to the scopophilic-Orientalist gaze of an implied white, male, heterosexual French reader. Consequently, whatever “didactic” potential can only actualize into a reification of and collaboration with an Orientalist episteme, since the text does not operate from an understanding that representations of gender differences are constitutive of, rather than consequent to, representations of cultural differences in colonial discourses.

Emine Yüksel, “Women’s Memory, Women’s Words: The Process of Acquiring and Transferring the Religious Knowledge of Alevi Women in Anatolia”

Emine Yüksel is currently a Ph.D candidate in the Modern History Department at the University of Szeged in Hungary. Her research interest mainly focuses on the Kızılbaş-Alevi and Bektashi communities in the Early Modern and Modern periods, in the context of their reciprocal socio-political relationship with the Ottoman State and Modern Turkey. Transmission of these communities’ religious and ritual knowledge, mythology, collective memory, and gender relations are also at the center of her research. She took part in numerous field studies in Alevi villages and towns in Anatolia during her MA and Ph.D. studies. At present, she is a visiting Ph.D. researcher at the University of Vienna and working on her thesis which concentrates on the internal turmoil and the division in the main Bektashi lodge in Anatolia.

ABSTRACT: The risen interest toward the multi-identities discourse, contextually began to dissolve the monolithic fiction and perception of the past and history, increased the academic enthusiasm on Alevi communities. Themes such as cemevi, music, ritual dance, immigration, and urbanization and politicization process of Alevi attracted the attention of researchers from different fields. However, little work has been done on women of these communities, who are the most important symbol of issues such as gender equality and visibility of the community. Particularly, studies focusing on Alevi women’s own experiences and contribution to collective memory of the society, remained out of academic interest.

In this research, with the approach toward reflecting the women point of view, and maintaining an effort to understand a non-hierarchical, non-authoritarian and non-directive manner, I will evaluate the process of acquiring and transferring the religious knowledge of Alevi women from different backgrounds. By using the narratives of women gathered using oral history method, compiled as a result of two years fieldwork at the Alevi villages of Anatolia, I argue that contrary to the gender equality rhetoric, owing to the fact that the ruling cadres of the ceremonies are men, they had higher chance and potential to obtain, carry and transfer the knowledge. On the other hand, women are kept away from the mechanisms of transferring and transforming this knowledge into practice, and carry the knowledge fragmentally, as a result of hierarchical relationships between men and women in the ritual.

Burcu Kalpaklıoğlu Yalçın, “Family, Relationality and Feminism: The Female Preachers’ Fatwas on Family Problems through the Hello Fatwa Hotline”

Burcu Kalpaklıoğlu is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. She took her BA from the philosophy department and her MA from the sociology department at Boğaziçi University. Her MA thesis focuses on the female preachers’ practice of giving fatwas through a telephone hotline serviced by the Directorate of Religious Affairs in Turkey. Her research interests focus on the anthropology of love and marriage, politics of gender and religion in contemporary Turkey. She has a book chapter, Guiding the Female Body through Alo Fetva Hotline: The Female Preachers’ Fatwas on Religious Marriage, Religious Divorce and Sexual Life, in the book Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary Turkey (ed. Alkan H, Dayı A, Topçu S, Yarar B)

ABSTRACT: Over the last years, we have witnessed the deepening of the role of the Presidency of the Religious Affairs (Diyanet) in governing religious, social and familial affairs in Turkey, through its operation as a social service institution which has been expanding in the public sphere. The task of the female preachers in this new role is vital in the sense that the milieus and the spheres in and through which Diyanet comes face to face with women considerably expanded through the female preachers that act as mediators between Diyanet and families. Alo Fetva (Hello Fatwa) hotline is one of the milieus where female preachers respond to the fatwa questions concerning worship, daily life matters or any other issue by telephone and give advice to solve the problems of fatwa seekers.

This paper draws on an in-depth ethnographic research conducted in the women’s fatwa room for 5 months as well as semi-structured interviews conducted with ten female preachers and religious experts. I aim to analyze how preachers reinterpret Diyanet’s fatwas on marital roles and responsibilities, depending on the lived experiences they listen to. I suggest that, in female preachers’ interpretative space, different norms, discourses and authoritative knowledges are transmitting, overlapping, communicating and negotiating in myriad ways. The female preachers, predicating on the interaction among various norms and discourses, have a tight position in which they, on the one hand, attempt to stay within the boundaries of the government’s discourse on family as well as the gender hierarchy constructed in Muslim legal tradition, and, on the other hand, protect the female questioners’ religious and legal rights and challenge the patriarchal interpretations of the Sharia.

JUNE 21: PANEL 1 (LAU – AKSoB 903) Debating Gendered Experiences and Consciousness

Chair/Discussant: Fatima Sadiqi, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University

Fatima Sadiqi is a linguist and specialist in gender and women’s studies with a focus on North Africa and the larger Middle East. She is affiliated to the University of Fez. Among her many books are Women, Gender and Language (Brill, 2003), Women’s Activism and the Public Sphere: Local/Global Linkages (Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 2006), Women and Knowledge in the Mediterranean (Routledge, 2013), Moroccan Feminist Discourses (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and Women’s Movements in the Post – “Arab Spring” North Africa (2016). Sadiqi’s work has been supported by numerous prestigious awards and fellowships from Harvard University, The Woodrow Wilson Center, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, and Fulbright. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Oxford Encyclopedia of African Women’s History.


Fatima Ibork, “التدين والعقلية الذكورية لدى النساء بالمجتمع المغربي” – تجليات العلاقة وانعكاساتها / “The Effects of Religiosity and Masculinity for Women in Moroccan Society: Consequences and Repercussions” (Presentation in Arabic)

Doctorat : Cultures et Sociétés dans le Monde Arabe et Musulman, année : 2006,

Actuellement : Formatrice au CRMEF (Centre Régional des Métiers de l’Education et de Formation)- Kénitra  en tant que Professeure chercheure (section : sociologie/philosophie)

تنظرالعقلية السائدة المحافظة إلى المرأة نظرة دونية، وترى أن مكانها الأصلي في بيتها. فهي تعتقد أن قدرات المرأة أقل من قدرات الرجل و خاصة في العمل السياسي وعند اتخاذ القرارات المهمة، وأن الرجل أكثرعقلانية من المرأة.

اعتراف المرأة بالهيمنة الذكورية ساهم في تغذية هذه الهيمنة واستمرارية الاضطهاد الناتج عنها. فوفقًا ل”بيار بورديو”، في كتاب «الهيمنة الذكورية» ” أنه لم يكن من الممكن اضطهاد النساء دون موافقتهن”، وهو الأمر الذي يتطلب وقفة من طرف المهتمين بالشأن البحثي الأكاديمي.

يبدو من خلال دراسات سابقة تخص المجتمعات المغاربية، أنه كلما كانت المجتمعات متدينة كلما كانت نظرة شبابها للمرأة ضيقة و مؤيدة للعقلية الذكورية. نتساءل بدورنا هل هناك علاقة طردية بين التدين والعقلية الذكورية لدى المرأة المغربية؟ و ما هي مستويات انعكاس علاقة من هذا النوع على المجتمع المغربي؟

لذا سنحاول خلال المرحلة الأولى قياس درجة الارتباط بين التدين وتأييد المرأة المغربية للعقلية الذكورية. سننطلق من فرضية اختلاف درجة تجليات –أوغياب- التأييد للعقلية الذكورية لدى فئة النساء المتدينات، وذلك حسب الانتماء الاجتماعي والثقافي والاقتصادي لكل منهن.

يعني أن عملنا السوسيولوجي الميداني سيرتكز على المنهج الوصفي بامتياز. بحيث سنعتمد المقابلة من خلال الاستمارة الموجهة للفئة المستهدفة (النساء المتدينات) بتحديد جملة من المتغيرات المرتبطة بالوضع السوسيو- ثقافي والاجتماعي والاقتصادي لعناصر العينة موضوع البحث.

بالنسبة للمرحلة الموالية من عملنا، و باعتماد المعطيات البحثية ونتائجها إلى جانب الأعمال النظرية العلمية في المجال، سنحاول الوقوف من جهة، على جل القيم المرتبطة بالتدين والتي ميزت الذهنية الإسلامية التقليدية بتفشي الاستبداد الذكوري؛ و من جهة ثانية سنتطرق إلى طبيعة الانعكاسات المرتبطة بهذه القيم على المجتمع المغربي في معظم مجالاته الحيوية (السياسية و الثقافية و الاجتماعية). خاصة    و أن ذهنية من هذا النوع ترتكز على معطيات ميثولوجية و ثيولوجية من أجل تثبيت شرعيتها وهويتها الوجودية.

الدوافع للقيام بهذا العمل لها مبرراتها الذاتية، بحيث تدخل هذه المبادرة في إطار المشروع البحثي الذاتي، موضوعه: علاقة الديني بالسياسي والاجتماعي بالمجتمع المغربي؛ وأيضا هناك مبررات موضوعية تتجلى في كون هذا العمل الأول من نوعه- على حسب علمي- الذي يتناول بالدراسة الارتباط بين التدين والعقلية الذكورية لدى النساء المغربيات. أيضا من المبررات الموضوعية، هناك حاجة مستعجلة لمحاربة العقلية الذكورية المتجذرة في أوساط المجتمع المغربي. ما يتطلب الدفع في اتجاه القيام بتشخيص للوضع من طرف المهتمين من أجل مواصلة كل أوراش التوعية والتحسيس والتأطير لتهيئ أجيال جديدة مقتنعة بالقضية النسائية وقادرة على احتضانها والسير بها نحو تحقيق المواطنة والمساواة بين الجنسين.

Fatim Zahra Rafali, “Women’s Agency in Moroccan Female Headed Households: Redefinition of Gender Roles”

My name is Fatim Zahra Rafali, a Ph.D student and a current supervisor-trainee at The Training Center of Educational Supervisors (CFIE) in Rabat, Morocco. I got my bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Chouaib Doukali University, El Jadida city, Morocco in 2002. Then, I went to École Normale Superieure (ENS) Rabat where I graduated and got my certificate for teaching English in high school in 2003. I had been a teacher of English for 17 years. Later, I got my master’s degree in Comparative Studies in Literature from Ibn Zohr University in Agadir (FLSH) in 2018, and I am currently a 4th year doctoring student specialized in Women’s and Gender studies at Ibn Zohr University, English Department, ERET Laboratory. My research thesis is about Moroccan Female Headed Households (FHHs), the challenges they face in Moroccan society and their survival mechanisms.

ABSTRACT: Worldwide, female headed households (FHHs) have become a cause for global concern. A growth in such households has been observed in both developed and developing nations. There are estimated one-quarter households that are headed by a woman on a global scale, according to World Bank and the latest Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) for 77 countries. Morocco is no exception as it is undergoing radical changes in its established family patterns and gender roles moving from families headed by men to more women centered households. There are many reasons behind this change like migration, widowhood, divorce, and other factors. As a result, more and more households are nowadays headed by women giving rise to emerging forms of women’s agency.

This paper depicts the development of family forms in Morocco with a focus on female headed households. It explores the interplay between the changes in family forms and in gender roles and their implications on intra-family organization, namely on changes in gender roles in doing family and on coping strategies of families under conditions of uncertainty and precariousness. It also assesses the main social and economic problems that female headed households face in their struggle for survival, how they change the negative attitude of society towards them, the difficulties they encounter in the upbringing of their children and the help the get from women associations, NGOs and the state. I believe this is a

pressing topic to push government leaders to adopt more family-friendly policies to advance women’s rights and promote equality.

Nadine Sinno, “Beirut Graffiti and the Gendering of Public Space”

Nadine Sinno is Associate Professor of Arabic at Virginia Tech. Her research interests include modern Arabic literature and cultural studies, particularly focusing on issues including gender and sexuality, visual culture, Arab feminism, and ecocriticism. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including The Journal of Arabic Literature, The Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Arab Studies Quarterly, MELUS, and Middle Eastern Literatures. She is the co-editor of Constructions of Masculinity in the Middle East and North Africa, with Mohja Kahf.

ABSTRACT: During the Lebanese Civil War, Beirut’s visual culture predominantly consisted of posters of political leaders, sectarian slogans, and other territorial visual markers, as evidenced by studies including Maria Chakhtoura’s La Guerre des Graffiti and Zeina Maasri’s Off the Wall: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War. In the past decade and a half, however, Beirut’s postwar public spaces have undergone visual transformation at the hands of both anonymous pedestrians and famous graffiti artists. Calligraffiti murals commemorating female artists, stencils advocating for social justice, and rushed scrawls embracing (or condemning) non-normative sexual identities, now intersect with warlike visual markers and compete with them in the construction of public space. Multilingual scrawls such as “Stop Homophobia,” “Haarib al-ightiṣaab” and stencils of the “the lady in the blue bra” and “Intifaḍat al-mara’a al-Arabiyya” occupy the city’s walls, thereby transforming the public sphere into a polyphonous platform for articulating the evolving concerns and commitments of Lebanon’s youth. Informed by studies of visual culture, gender and sexuality, and spatial theory, this paper examines Beirut’s gender-centered graffiti. I argue that while sectarian slogans and political posters continue to occupy much of Beirut’s public spaces, new civilian actors are gendering the public space by engraving their concerns and aspirations with regard to gender justice and civil society. Documenting and analyzing such artifacts is critical because despite their ephemeral nature, these artifacts play a crucial role in not only transforming the cityscape visually, but also in shaping Beirut’s cultural ethos and visbilizing marginalized gender identities and sexual practices.

June 21 – PANEL 2 (LAU – AKSoB 904) Identity Struggles Across Borders: Migration, Diaspora, and Globalization

Chair/Discussant: Jennifer Olmsted, Drew University

Growing up in Beirut, Lebanon profoundly shaped Jennifer C. Olmsted’s career trajectory. Much of her research focuses on the short and long term the impact of armed conflict on economic outcomes through a gender lens. After completing her BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, she received her Master’s in Agricultural Economics and her PhD in Economics from the University of California, Davis. Her PhD focused on the Palestinian economy and her recent work examines the challenges created by the Syrian refugee crisis. Dr. Olmsted is currently Professor of Economics and Director of Middle East, Arabic and Drew’s Social Entrepreneurship semester, as well as the President of the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS). She previously served as the Gender Advisor at the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Among other outlets, her work has been published in Feminist Economics, History of the Family, Journal of Development Studies, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Review of Social Economy, Women’s Studies International Forum, and World Development.


Silvia Bruzzi, “Gender and Mobility across the Mediterranean and the Red Sea: Italy, Libya and Eritrea”

Silvia Bruzzi is associated researcher at the Institut des mondes africains IMAf/CNRS and the Centre for Mobility Humanities (MoHu) at the University of Padua.  She has carried out research and taught history of Africa at the University of Bologna, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris), the Chaire d’Etudes Africaines Comparées (EGE Rabat) and the University of Padua.  Her research focuses on the social history of North-East Africa and the relationship between Islam, colonialism and gender dynamics. She is the author of the book Islam and Gender in Colonial Northeast Africa, Leiden, Brill, 2018.

ABSTRACT: This paper is a contribution to the history of women and gender in a transnational perspective attentive to the mobility phenomena across the Mediterranean and the Red Sea from the end of the nineteenth century to World War II. The male migration experience (of the European settlers, but also of the Eritrean Askari in Libya and of the Libyan refugees in Egypt) and that of the European women in the overseas territories has obtained a relative historiographic attention. However, Libyan and Eritrean women still appear as motionless and invisible actors. This paper explores the mobility phenomena across Italy, Eritrea and Libya, focusing on the histories and experiences of Eritrean and Libyan women. Adopting a gender perspective and crossing visual sources (postcards, family photographs, newsreels, ethnographic documentaries) and written sources (legal literature and judicial archives in Arabic and Italian), it shows how female subjects are essential actors to understand the circulation of ideas, images and subjects across Italy, Eritrea and Libya. On the one hand, it will highlight the impact of mobility phenomena (of ideas, images and people) on the social and legal status of Eritrean and Libyan women in the colonial context. On the other hand, it will trace and reconstruct the transnational trajectories of “exceptional normal” women who have crossed this space, subverting or inhabiting the social and legal norms.

Esra Demirkol Colosio, “The Sacred Mother/Wife and (Un)Changing Gendered Roles: Women’s Lives after Husbands’ Migration”

Esra Demirkol Colosio is a lecturer at the Çankırı Karatekin University, Sociology Department. She graduated from Sociology (BA) (METU) in 2009 and Social Anthropology  (MSc) (METU) in 2011. She received her PhD from the University of Sussex, Sociology Department in 2020. Her PhD was on transnational familyhood constructed by Turkish immigrants in Japan and their stayed-behind families in Turkey. She worked as an assistant/interviewer in fieldworks of several projects during her studies, and volunteered with various charities both in Turkey and the UK.

ABSTRACT: This study investigates the impact of international migration on left-behind wives of male immigrants from Turkey to Japan. It gives an account of how immigrants and family members, particularly their wives who stayed behind, experienced the separation and how their family relationships and emotional connections were maintained and redefined in the construction of transnational family webs while living apart for an undefined and extended period. This investigation is based on a qualitative methodological framework that includes multi-sited fieldwork with in-depth formal and informal interviews. Fieldwork was carried out in Japan and Turkey in ten months, including 40 in-depth interviews. I show that the construction of transnational family involves a set of practices, changes in perceptions on roles of the male immigrant father/husband and the left-behind female wife/mother, based on symbolic meanings. Because of meanings ascribed to family and the given importance of the privacy of family life, under no circumstances will the unity of the family be disturbed. Family should also be together whatever happens; even when family members are physically separated, they still feel the need to make an effort to protect the family as ‘an imagined community’ (Anderson, 2006) in the transnational social space. I discuss, particularly, that the gendered values of immigrants and their left-behind wives are reinforced in every aspect of their lives, which creates a dilemma, specifically for women who stay in the home country. I analyse how reconstruction of familyhood in the transnational social space transform division of labour in the household from left-behind women’s point of view.

Rasmieyh Abdelnabi, “Threads of Preservation: Palestinian Embroidery, Women’s Work, and Global Connectivity”

Rasmieyh Abdelnabi is an instructor and doctoral candidate of sociology at George Mason University. Her research interests include gender and feminist studies and political and social activism among Palestinian women. She is currently working on her dissertation titled: “A Gendered Politics of Life: The Feminization of Resistance, Social Reproduction, Palestinian Embroidery–Women’s Work Toward Surviving and Thriving.” In this work, Rasmieyh seeks to understand the feminization of resistance as an unconscious turn toward social reproduction by way of a gendered politics of life to counter the failures of formal politics.

ABSTRACT: This paper will utilize ethnographic research of Palestinian women to understand the formation of an informal and soft politics by a populous living under an entrenched system of oppression. Palestinians have existed under Israeli settler colonialism for decades and it has been the determining factor in Palestinian politics and everyday life, forcing them to change their tactics given the system’s mission to eliminate the native population. The aim of this paper is to understand how one’s political subjectivity is shaped by one’s existence in such an ever-changing, everlasting system? What kind of politics takes form in everyday spaces? In particular, women-only spaces that appear to be gender-normative and limiting, but are actually dynamic spaces where women become self-sufficient and develop new support systems? Palestinians are exhausted by formal politics that has caused infighting between Palestinian parties and helped to cement Israeli settler colonialism. Therefore, they are increasingly using informal, non-confrontational means that respond to settler colonialism’s attempts at erasing the native, such as cultural preservation and celebration. One such technique is embroidery, which serves as material expression of the Palestinian experience, history, and identity. Palestinians use embroidery to generate income, discuss Palestine, and build new social networks. Palestinians utilize embroidery politically as a quiet and subtle tactic to negotiate their lives under settler colonialism while stubbornly existing. This paper seeks to understand a form of politics exercised by women globally. A politics that seeks not only that a people survive, but also thrive by making erasure of the native near impossible.

JUNE 21: PANEL 1 (LAU – AKSoB 903) Gendered Representations

Chair/Discussant: Soha Bayoumi, Johns Hopkins University

Soha Bayoumi is Senior Lecturer in the Medicine, Science, and the Humanities Program at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Her work is informed by political theory, gender studies, and postcolonial studies and centers the ways in which medical expertise is shaped by and deployed in different political contexts. She is presently completing two book projects, one (with Sherine Hamdy) on the work of doctors in the Egyptian uprising of 2011 and its aftermath, and the other on the social and political roles of doctors in relation to health and justice in postcolonial Egypt. She is editor-in-chief for the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies and associate editor for the Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies.


Ezgi Güler, “An Unlikely Resistance: The Case of Transfeminine Sex Workers in Turkey”

PhD candidate in Social and Political Sciences at the European University Institute in Italy. Her dissertation entitled “Life at the Margins: Gender Transgression and Sex Work in Contemporary Turkey” is currently under examination. Her research interests include social anthropology, gender, sexuality, sex work, urban ethnography, structural violence, and migration.

ABSTRACT: According to Amnesty International (Murphy 2015), sex workers face violence, stigma, discrimination, and other rights violations all over the world. In particular, transgender sex workers disproportionately become the targets of these violations (Lyons et al. 2015). In Turkey, this population encounters not only violence and harassment due to a deep intolerance for those who transgress societal gender norms. But, the gentrification and urban renewal projects in the cities have also resulted in the displacement and spatial discrimination of transgender communities, like other ‘outcasts’ (Bayramoğlu 2013). Despite their particularly hostile circumstances, transgender (or trans) sex workers’ experiences have been largely overlooked in the literature (Lyons et al. 2015). Through ethnographic methods, this paper examines whether transgender individuals operating in the underground sex economy in urban Turkey form supportive relationships and mobilize, given structural conditions that encourage distrust and competition and undermine collective efforts. I found that, in spite of their conditions, workers heavily relied on each other for matters ranging from small-scale interpersonal exchanges of resources to community mobilization. However, the violent and unpredictable circumstances of their lives still generated repeated conflict, making the supportiveness of their ties precarious. The paper considers the importance of fictive kinship ties in this community, and discusses the intimate coexistence of solidarity and conflict in sex workers’ relationships.

Sara Farhan, “‘Baghdad is One Big Brothel’: Colonialism, Sex-Work, and the Institutionalization of Medicine in Mandate and Hashemite Iraq, 1921-1958”

Until the collapse of the Hashemite Monarchy in 1958, sex-work was a regulated trade in Iraq. With the establishment of the Mandate of Iraq, local medical professionals and sex-workers were criminalized, scrutinized, and regulated under British dictated or influenced policies, legislations, and medical campaigns. British colonial officers accused medical professionals and sex-workers of immorality and the spread of contagious diseases. As such, the institutionalization of Iraq’s medical professionals and sex-workers followed similar patterns: criminalization, re-organization, and professionalization. This paper highlights the colonial institutionalization of Hashemite Iraq’s medical practitioners and sex-workers. In an effort to gain a firm grip on the Iraqi population, British colonial officers initiated public hygiene campaigns that linked venereal diseases to immorality, ignorance, and incompetence. Simultaneously, these campaigns aimed to regulate nearly every aspect of Iraqi society. While on the one hand, this is a familiar pattern that can be noted in many settler-colonial environments. On the other hand, the way this process unfolded in Iraq highlights the uniquely local features, which underscore the remarkable level of agency that local medical professionals and sex-workers swayed. These actors ultimately derailed, delayed, and reframed the British agenda in Iraq. Relying on what remains of Iraq’s medical archives, international medical journals, newspapers, poetry, and colonial records, this paper argues that the institutionalization of medicine during the Mandate and Hashemite period originated in colonial medical agendas that depended on conflated venereal diseases statistics collected from Iraq’s red-light district. However, the efforts to establish and reinforce British hegemony were undermined by the same communities it was meant to regulate: Iraqi medical professionals and sex-workers.

Najate Nerci, La condition des femmes des minorités ethniques et raciales au Moyen Orient: pour une approche intersectionnelle / “The Conditions of Women in Ethnic and Racial Minority Groups in the Middle East: An Intersectional Approach” (Presentation in French)

Najate NERCI is a university professor at Hassan II-Casablanca University. She holds a doctorate from the University of Bordeaux-Montaigne. She won the national research prize in Morocco in 2015 for her book: Metamorphoses of the myth of Ounamir: Production, reception and imagination. She coordinates the project: Gender and human rights funded by the Ibn Khaldoun project to support research in the field of human and social sciences 2019-2023). In addition to her research and her publications on the imaginary in all discourses (mythological, religious, political, literary, etc.), Najate NERCI is interested in questions of gender, representations and writing of the female body. She founded  and coordinates the master’s degree: Gender, discourse and representations at the University of Casablanca and directs theses on gender issues in literature and the visual arts. She is responsible for the research team: Gender, discourse, culture, and director of the Interculturality, communication and modernity laboratory at the University of Casablanca. She is also a researcher associated with the Lapril laboratory and the Plurielles research team at Bordeaux-Montaigne University, a member of the Center for International Research on the Imaginary and of the Discours d’Afrique network at the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon.

ABSTRACT: Les recherches féministes et de genre dans le monde arabe se  sont rarement penchés sur l’intersectionnalité en tant qu’outil analytique à visée heuristique. Or, cet outil est d’une efficacité certaine dans la compréhension des rapports de hiérarchie et de pouvoir qui engendrent le rejet de la différence, la violence, la discrimination basée sur l’appartenance ethnique raciale ou autre. L’imbrication de ces oppressions identitaires méconnue ou ignorée dans le contexte arabo-musulman est à l’origine de notre intérêt  pour  cette notion  dont la pertinence n’est plus à démontrer. Notre communication se propose d’analyser des récits où sont racontées et représentées les expériences minorisées de femmes vivant au Moyen Orient, d’examiner les normes avec lesquelles se débattent ces récits et ces représentations, d’interroger le contre-discours qui se fonde sur le hors-norme, l’oblique, et l’invisible à la lumière de l’intersectionnalité. Ces récits médiatisées (femmes yazidies, mains- d’œuvre féminines de couleur noire travaillant au Gofle…) n’ont guère suscité l’intérêt des recherches féministes et de genre.

Nous nous proposons de  mettre d’abord à jour les manifestations de ces discriminations vécues, invisibilisées et banalisées, nous analyserons dans un deuxième temps l’intersection de ces diverses oppressions et stigmatisations sur la base du genre, de la classe sociale, de la race et de l’éthnicité, et finirons par examiner les contre-discours qui tentent de se démettre des arguments du discours prédominant. Nous conclurons par la mise en lien des résultats que nous avons obtenus avec les préoccupations des études féministes et de genre.

June 21: PANEL 2 (LAU – AKSoB 904) Health: Physical, Mental, and Reproductive

Chair/Discussant: Zina Sawaf, Lebanese American University

Zina Sawaf is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the Lebanese American University. Previously, she was an Early Career Fellow with the Arab Council for the Social Sciences. A social anthropologist, she has written and published on ethnographic practice in the Arab region, divorce and the state in Saudi Arabia and the history of anthropology in Lebanon.  Her book project, “Encountering the State: Women and Intimate Lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,” based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in the Arabian Peninsula, is a study of embodied encounters between women and the processes, offices, and officials of the state, as well as its material culture.


Yasmin Shafei, “Majnūna: Women’s Madness and the Professionalization of Psychiatry”

Yasmin Shafei is a PhD candidate in Modern Middle Eastern History at the American University of Beirut. Having spent 15 years working in the field with various UN agencies on gender and health, she returned to academia in 2015 to begin her PhD journey. She is also a network editor with the newly launched H-Egypt and her primary research focuses on the intersections between colonial studies, gender and the histories of medicine and mental health. Specifically, her thesis explores primary documents at the National Archives in Egypt and the United Kingdom to investigate the impact of British colonial rule on the development of psychiatry and state asylums in Egypt during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

ABSTRACT: The history of mental illness and psychiatry in the Middle East in particular is a pressing issue because it reflects the multiple ways in which colonial governments and modern nation-states defined their national projects and relationships with their subjects. With the advent of British colonial rule in 1882, and the professionalization of psychiatry, the responsibility for treating mental illnesses was placed within the hands of British, and British-trained, male doctors who acquired increasing legitimacy. This study will thus reveal how the emerging psychiatric profession, and the men that represented it, affected gender norms and constructed a modern trope of the “new woman” in Egypt.  As Egyptian psychiatrists began to perceive of themselves as members of a distinct medical profession, they began to express their medical and non-medical views in various journals. Emerging mental health constructs were thus being transferred from the hallways of the asylum to the homes of Egyptian families through the pages of the burgeoning Arab press. As the Annual Reports of the Mental Disease Administration and the Lunacy Division during the first half of the twentieth century in Egypt will attest, women, as both patients and nurses, were a central part of the new medical and social order that was being constructed by British authorities. The study will further demonstrate how the professionalization of mental health, as practiced in the asylum by male doctors who possessed medical authority over women’s minds and bodies, was different from popular healing methods such as the zār, in which women were the primary providers and patients.

Zeina Fathallah, “Obstetrician-Gynecologists’ Experiences in Providing Abortion Services in Lebanon

I  completed my Ph.D in Sociology in 2011 at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. My research focused on gender and sexuality in Lebanon. My dissertation, “”Moral Work and Construction of Abortion Networks: Health and sexuality of women in Lebanon”, explored, using both sociological and ethnographic approaches, how women who seek an abortion live this experience and create a space of autonomy in a clandestine context. I also examined the experiences of other actors (partners, physicians, midwives, pharmacists, and allies) and their moral role in situations of conflict. I hold a “”Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Spécialisées”” (DESS) in Economics and Health Systems Management from the University of Paris I and a Master of Public Health, concentration in Health Education from San Jose State University, USA. I have worked as a Social Specialist in several development projects and I am a Lecturer at the American University of Beirut.

Abortion in Lebanon is criminalized. Women who need to have an abortion constantly negotiate with other actors (partners, allies and physicians) in order to have access to safe abortion services. This paper explores the practice of abortion by physicians in Lebanon. The study covers the data collected during a period of 6 years (2003 till 2008). I used a double folded approach: a sociological approach based on semi-structured face to face interviews (35 gynecologists) using the grounded theory method and an ethnographic one. The semi-structured questionnaire was based on the following themes: reasons for accepting to make the operation in a clandestine context, cases encountered, how women formulated their request for an abortion, precautions taken and secrecy management. Participants were recruited through my own personal networks related mainly to my work in the development sector for more than 10 years.The findings reveal that abortion is a regular process in which medical institutions are integrated. The physicians manage the social constraint. They manage the contradiction between what is real and what should be public without challenging the existing normative system. Physicians also interfere in the couple dynamics. In the situation of the single woman, the physician saves her life, allows her to return to normality without however being an activist for the autonomy of women. Physicians preserve the social order, they value the life of the woman as an individual while respecting the norms of the group without being agents of social change.

Mai Mohamed Aboul-dahab, “Women Spaces: Spatial Experiences of Egyptian Women within Women-only Gyms and Health Clubs”

Mai Aboul-dahab is an assistant lecturer in the Department of Architecture and Environmental Design at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Cairo. She earned her master’s of science in architecture from the AAST in 2017. In her masters research she explored gender segregated spaces in Cairo and the relations of power they reveal, with an emphasis on the ways in which culture differences affect our perception of space and power. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in the architectural department at Ain Shams university in Cairo. Her PhD research explores the experience of pioneer Egyptian women architects in the architectural profession in Egypt from the Second half of the 20th century, in order to narrate a history of the architectural profession from women perspective, while placing it in its broader societal and cultural context.

ABSTRACT: There is an increase in demand by Egyptian women of middle and upper classes for women-only gyms and health leisure spaces, especially in Cairo. Yet, women spatial experience surrounding this prototype of spaces is rarely discussed. In addition, although these spaces are proliferating, questioning what Egyptian women need in their designated women-only gyms and health leisure clubs remains under studied. This research is interested in the architectural and spatial design of these spaces. It questions how women experience them? What do women need in their spaces? And finally, it discusses what can they communicate about women status?

The research deployed a qualitative method. The researcher conducted 24 semi structured interviews with women who visit women-only gyms and health spaces in Cairo. Participants explained their experience within women-only gyms, and also mixed gyms that appropriate a space for women. The findings conclude that women communicated their feeling of subordination within women-only gyms and health clubs when one of the following spatial qualities was not considered: 1) space size and position, 2) space openness and exposure to sun light, 3) privacy, and 4) children accessibility. A women-only gym or health club spatial design can communicate for women a meaning that they are inferior or less important. The research ends by arguing that there is a duality present within women-only gyms and health clubs. They can empower women but at the same time they can make them feel they are an inferior other.

June 22: PANEL 1 (AUB – West Hall Auditorium A) Gendered Approaches to History and Memory

Chair/Discussant: Hoda Elsadda, Cairo University

Hoda Elsadda is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cairo University, a feminist and an activist for women’s rights. She previously held a Chair in the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at Manchester University, and was Co-Director of the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World in the UK. She was Carnegie Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University in 2014-2015, and Visiting Scholar at the Asfari Institute at the American University of Beirut in 2017-2018. In 1992, she co-founded and co-edited Hagar, an interdisciplinary journal in women’s studies published in Arabic. She was member of the 50-committee that drafted the Egyptian constitution endorsed in a referendum in 2014 and was coordinator of the Freedoms and Rights Committee in the constitutional assembly.


Yasmin Amin, “‘Wa kaʾanaha majhūla’ (As if She is Unknown): The Mystery Surrounding Umm Isḥāq”

Yasmin Amin works at the Orient-Institut Beirut as Representative of the Orient-Instituts Beirut (Max-Weber-Stiftung) in Cairo. She is an Egyptian-German who holds a BA in Business Administration, a PGD and an MA in Islamic Studies, all three from the American University in Cairo. She received her PhD in Islamic Studies from Exeter University’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies researching ‘Humour and Laughter in the Ḥadīth’. Her research covers various aspects of gender issues, early Muslim society and culture as well as the original texts of Islamic history, law and Hadith. She is the author of Musnad Umm Salama and the Factors Affecting its Evolution (forthcoming), co-translator of The Sorrowful Muslim’s Guide, and co-editor of Islamic Interpretive Tradition and Gender Justice: Processes of Canonization, Subversion, and Change.

ABSTRACT: In his book ‘al-Muʿjam al-Ṣaghīr li-l-ruwāt’, al-Ṭabarī quotes Shaykh ʿAlī Riḍa saying ‘Wa kaʾanaha majhūla’ and writes that, like his teacher, he also failed in finding Umm Isḥāq.  But who was she?  Why did she became an ‘unknown’? Unlike ʿUthmān Ibn ʿAffān, who received the honorific ‘Dhū-l-Nūrayn’, because he married two of the Prophet’s daughters, Umm Isḥāq did not receive any honorific for marrying both grandsons of the Prophet. Al-Ḥasan even urged his brother, al-Ḥusayn, to marry her if he should die, to keep her within the Prophetic household. Despite having narrations in the Ḥadīth compendia on the authority of both husbands, information about her – in Sunni as well as in Shi’ite – history books, chronicles, and biographical dictionaries is very scarce. Even her name remains unknown. After the martyrdom of al-Ḥusayn she gets married twice more to powerful famous men, the grandson of Abū Bakr and the son of al-ʿAbbās. Yazīd b. Muʿawiyya is said to have also proposed to her and went as far as killing her brother when his proposal was rejected.  Unlike her sister ʿA’isha bint Ṭalḥa, who is extensively mentioned in the sources and reprimanded for her liberal ways, Umm Isḥāq is not mentioned at all other than the daughter, wife or mother of famous persons. It seems like a deliberate attempt to write her out of history. But why was she expunged from the sources and can we even trust the sources if they are manipulated? This paper attempts to answer these questions.

Sara Sabban, “Crafting the Lebanese Nation under the French Mandate: Evelyne Bustros (1878-1971) as a Patron of the Arts and Crafts”

Sarah Sabban is a doctoral candidate in the Arab and Middle Eastern History program at the American University of Beirut. Before that, she earned a Master of Studies in Islamic art and archaeology (University of Oxford) and a Master of Arts in anthropology (AUB). Her dissertation project explores the history of arts and crafts in late Ottoman Beirut in the context of the Empire’s integration into the world-economy and the dissemination of the modern Western episteme that distinguished “art” from “craft.” Her research interests include modern Middle Eastern history with a focus on intellectual history and material culture, anthropology of art and museums, and Islamic art and its historiography.

ABSTRACT: Scholarship on women and activism in the Middle East has elaborated the many ways women participated in the nationalist movements and points to the support for the traditional crafts as an example of the diverse feminist concerns and engagements under colonial and post-colonial conditions. My paper investigates this phenomenon in Greater Lebanon under the French Mandate to argue that women’s societies under the leadership of the urban elite contributed to the reconceptualization of the arts and crafts and their new position in the imagining and the making of the modern Lebanese nation. One prominent figure in the promotion and the patronage of the arts and crafts was Evelyne Tueni Bustros, perhaps better known for her legacy as a francophone writer, a leading feminist activist, and a Lebanese nationalist. Her advocacy for the arts and crafts in the 1930s furthered earlier manifestations of urban feminist interest in artisanal products, and paved the way for the establishment of the Artisanat Libanais by the first lady Lody Eddé. Evelyne’s landmark enterprises included the foundation of a society for the production and distribution of artisanal products while she was president of the Renaissance Feminine Society and the project to preserve, produce, and showcase traditional local costumes. Such practices, the commercialization and the exhibitioning of artisanal products, involved modern methods of re-ordering and forms of re-presentation that fashioned the cultural heritage and the national folklore for a modern Lebanon. “Native” handicrafts were thus engaged in the process of heritage formation and national representation, and endowed artisanal production with the power to mediate the imagined nation.

Cafer Sarıkaya, “Women and Gender in the Middle East after the First World War: Food Narratives in Fethiye Çetin’s My Grandmother”

Cafer Sarıkaya is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, where he also has completed his Master’s thesis ‘Celebrating Difference: “Turkish Theatre” in the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893’. His research interests include mainly the Armenians in the late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic as well as diaspora, Black Sea and Middle Eastern Studies. His doctoral study project aims at researching the memory of the Armenian community in Ünye and its surroundings on the sense of belonging, where trauma and nostalgia produce mixed feelings.

ABSTRACT: This paper investigates Fethiye Çetin’s My Grandmother with a special emphasis on food narratives in her memoir. My Grandmother is a real life story of Fethiye Çetin’s Armenian grandmother. There are an estimated two million Turks whose grandparents could tell them similar stories in Turkey. On a more personal level, I have a similar ethnic background. My paternal grandmother was from a Circassian family that came to Turkey from Russia and my maternal grandmother came from a Georgian immigrant family of Batumi from Georgia. My great grandmother was an Armenian lady called Mari who took the name Zeliha after getting married to my Turkish great grandfather during the First World War in Ünye because of the Armenian Genocide. My great grandmother made it possible for herself and her family to stay in the region by marrying my great grandfather and becoming a Muslim. She was an exception in that she was a lucky woman who was never pressured by her Muslim husband for her original religious conviction despite the conversion. Unfortunately, we don’t know very much in detail about the nature of such conservations if we don’t have our family secrets. I hope women like my grandmother could and did in actuality practice their pre-conversion faith. Some of the Armenian women and children who were laid claim to or detained by Muslim families during deportation of Armenians in 1915 were later found by their spouses or families. They wanted to take them to their place of residence. In certain situations, Armenian women who were married with Muslim men did not go back to their previous husbands, even though their husbands accepted them. It is still possible to see the announcements of people looking for their families and relatives in the weekly-published Armenian newspaper Agos printed in Istanbul. In her memoir, Fethiye Çetin breaks the silence and helps accelerate the profusion of confession literature and testimonials about hidden Armenians in Turkey. In this paper I will focus on the following questions: How does the author negotiate between her Turkish and Armenian identities? How does her grandmother in disguise of a Turkish housewife prepare certain foods that are related to her Armenian heritage? How does the author reconcile the conflicts in the household growing as a Turk and admit her hidden minority status to her grandchild before she dies that challenges dominant Turkish narrative on Armenian minorities in Turkey?

June 22: PANEL 2 (AUB – West Hall Auditorium B) Contradictions of State Feminism

Chair/Discussant: Amaney Jamal, Princeton University

Amaney A. Jamal is Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics, and Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She is the former Director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice. Jamal also directs the Workshop on Arab Political Development and the Bobst-American University of Beirut Collaborative Initiative. Jamal is the co-Principal of the Arab Barometer  Project (Winner of the Best Dataset in the Field of Comparative Politics (Lijphart/Przeworski/Verba Dataset Award 2010), and has secured over 4 million dollars in grants for this and other projects from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), National Science Foundation (NSF), NSF: Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS), Qatar National Research Fund, (QNRF), United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Luce Foundation. In 2006, Jamal was named a Carnegie Scholar. She holds a Phd from the University of Michigan (2003). Her areas of specialization are the Middle East and North Africa, mass and political behavior, political development and democratization, inequality and economic segregation, Muslim Immigration (US and Europe), gender, race, religion, and class.


Amina Drhimeur, “Gender Reforms and ‘Islamic Feminism’ under the AKP and the PJD: A Comparison between Morocco and Turkey”

Lalla Amina Drhimeur is currently conducting her Ph.D. research in Sciences Po Lyon, France. She is a Prime Youth researcher. Drhimeur’s research explores the evolution of political Islam within incumbent political parties, democratization process and power reconfigurations mainly in North Africa and the Middle East.  Her publications include The Party of Justice and Development’s Pragmatic Politics (Baker Institute for Public Policy, Houston, Texas) and The rise of populism? Comparing incumbent pro-Islamic parties in Turkey and Morocco (Turkish Studies).

ABSTRACT: My research seeks to explore what political Islam under the AKP in Turkey and the PJD in Morocco means for gender reforms and understand what the concept of “Islamic feminism” represents within women’s associations these two parties endorse. To do so this article aims to draw a comparison between the AKP and the PJD in light of their ideological and political similarities. In fact, both parties prioritize the well being of the community over individualism and hold a family centered and conservative discourse on women. However these two parties sought to adapt gender reforms, for instance the elimination of all inequalities between women and men in Turkey and the recognition of the progressive family code in Morocco. I would like to argue that the accommodation of some women’s demands was a pragmatic choice made under national and international pressure, a move to survive in a politically constrained context and a way to consolidate their power. If the AKP and PJD make concessions and become pragmatic, how do they assert their identities? I would like to argue that since the rise of the AKP and the PJD to power a new mode of “ Islamic feminism” emerged. These two parties have sought to create or endorse women’s associations and through their alliances, the parties have sought to construct and reflect their identities since pragmatism blurs the ideological lines and it remains important for a party to differentiate itself for political purposes. These associations serve to appeal to women and include them in their constituencies, to promote parties’ conservatism and to reinforce each other’s ideologies.

Dana Olwan, “Reforming the State: Monarchical Interventions and the Fight Against Gender-Based Violence in Jordan”

Dana’s research is located at the nexus of feminist theorizations of gendered and sexual violence, solidarities across geopolitical and racial differences, and feminist pedagogies. In support of her work, she has received a Future Minority Studies postdoctoral fellowship, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Art/Research Grant, and a Palestinian American Research Council grant. Her writings have appeared in the Journal of Settler Colonial Studies, the Canadian Journal of Sociology, Feral Feminisms, Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture and Social Justice, American Quarterly, and Feminist Formations. She is co-editor with Margaret Pappano of Muslim Mothering: Local and Global Histories, Theories, and Practices (Demeter Press 2016). Shorter opinion pieces can be found on Rabble, Ricochet, The Feminist Wire and Al Jazeera.

ABSTRACT: On March 16, 2017, the Jordanian government approved recommendations made by the Royal Committee for Reforming the Judiciary and Enhancing the Rule of Law. Formed under the auspices of King Abdullah II, the Committee was empowered to amend old laws and propose new legislations that would further entrench the rule of law in the Kingdom. In its 285-page report, the royal committee made specific recommendations that targeted legislative codes believed to provide legal sanction for violence against women, including Article 308 and Article 98 of the Jordanian Penal Code. Commonly referred to as the “marry your rapist law,” article 308 permits the pardoning of rape perpetrators who marry their victims and remain married to them for a minimum period of at least three years. Article 98, which is often referred as the “honor killing” law, provides penalty reductions to killers who commit an act of murder in a “fit of fury” caused by “an unlawful and dangerous act” by a victim. The Committee’s recommendations to amend these laws come after decades of lobbying and campaigning by Jordanian women’s rights activists who have long highlighted the discriminatory and harmful nature of such laws while positing national legal codes as significant sites for social struggle and political change.

Celebratory accounts of these legal victories abound in media, powerfully wielded by state and non-state actors to reflect Arab government’s capacity to respond to citizen demands and implement important legal changes that are framed in local terms (Merry 2006). They showcase the growing will of the people to suture social problems through the apparatuses of the state itself such as the law. Whether the current tide of state-backed and state-sponsored legal challenges can put an end to increasing rates of violence against women in these countries remains to be seen.  Regardless of their immediate and long-term outcomes, however, such legal battles demand serious scholarly attention that neither exceptionalizes their occurrence nor overplays their significance. This paper examines royal ‘activism’ in the fight against the phenomenon of the ‘honor’ crime in the post Arab revolutions period. It investigates the mounting and state-backed investment in ending this crime and the ways in which royal efforts in fighting gender-based violence are rhetorically translated and politically deployed on the local and global stage. Placing this involvement in a longer trajectory of state feminism that has served to define, set, and delimit the agenda for women’s activism in the country, this paper will address how royal confrontations of the honor crime enact forms of neoliberal development and modern governmentality in a time of political upheaval and change. The paper thus explores the regulation of gendered and sexual violence as a staged enactment and spectacularized reconstitution of the state’s image as modern, enlightened, and pro-women at a time when community-based activisms and efforts against gendered and sexual violence have gained renewed vigor and significance in calls for social and political transformation in Jordan specifically and also across the region more broadly.

Dina Haddad, “Intersectionality, Gender and Development: The Other Side of International Standards”

Dr Haddad is The Current scholar of the  MESA  Global Academy 2022-2023. She is a specialist in international law and has a significant involvement with research and a first-hand knowledge of socio-legal and political complexities of the Arab World. She has been trained legally at various institutions including: Columbia University, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK & University of Oxford, St Anne’s College and University of Montpellier. Her legal experience is complemented by her doctoral research from University of Wales, UK in international law and human rights followed by several academic posts in the UK (Universities of Birmingham, University of Dundee, University of Aberdeen and British Institute for International and Comparative Law) .She has profound teaching and research experience in a range of legal and political areas including International Law, human rights, security and development, international environmental law, Islamic politics and legal perspectives on intersectionality and feminism.

ABSTRACT: Intersectionality as a legal theory helps identify extra tools to better understand gender and development as concepts and further recognize categories that fall out of the usual boundaries offered by the rhetoric of international standards of human rights and gender equality. Moving beyond women empowerment this paper aims to challenge the continuing ways by which woman across the Arab world are depicted and targeted through international projects and institutions including humanitarian initiatives since 2011.  Theoretical parallels between intersectionality and critical approaches to international law will be explored to deconstruct and examine other social categories beyond gender and to position gender within the global economy and vulnerable realities of conflict.  This paper argues that despite the prevalence of intersectionality as a concept and discourse originating from feminist in the Global South, institutional structure of international human rights yet to accommodate intersectional analysis in its practice. The case of Syrian women in refuge will be addressed with some focus by highlighting emerging international discourses vs local humanitarian crisis.

JUNE 23: PANEL (AUB – West Hall Auditorium B) From Research to Practice: A Panel Discussion that Bridges Activism and Feminist Knowledge

Scholars, activists, and civil society organizations are more and more using feminist research, both external and homegrown, to inform their work, democratize knowledge, and make it more accessible. At the AMEWS annual conference 2022, the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University of Beirut is hosting a moderated panel discussion with civil society members, scholars, and activists in Lebanon to explore the ways in which they are involved in intersectional feminist activism as well as produce and use feminist knowledge to engage in processes such as informed policy, dialogue, and advocacy.

The panel discussion is revolved around three main sets of questions:

  1. Introduction to sources and usage of knowledge. Guest speakers will be given the space to share the ways in which they use knowledge in their work as well as the sources of knowledge they use.
  2. Current context of feminist academic research. Guest speakers will be asked to tease out where they stand in terms of academic research, especially what have they found helpful or unhelpful, as well as the challenges and gaps in their work.
  3. Identifying research priorities. Guest speakers will be asked to share what they think are the priority research questions that could help them in their activism.

Chair: Jennifer Fisher, American University of Beirut


  • Dayna Ash, Haven for Artists
  • Vivienne Badaan, American University of Beirut
  • Amal Charif, HalTek and Disability Advocate
  • Siham Fadil, ISIS Center for Women and Development
  • Mozn Hassan, Nazra for Feminist Studies
  • Zakaria Nasser, Qorras
  • Rym Nouicer, Human Rights Activist

June 23: PANEL 1 (AUB – West Hall Auditorium A) Women and Labor in the Political, Human Rights, and Educational Fields

Chair/Discussant: Cassie Guarino, University of California, Riverside

Cassandra Guarino is Professor of Education and Public Policy at the University of California Riverside. She obtained her PhD in the Economics of Education from Stanford University in 1999 with an emphasis on labor economics, and has held prior positions as an economist at the Rand Corporation and on the faculties of Michigan State and Indiana Universities. Her research focuses on educational equity, teacher quality, teacher labor markets, school choice, and issues in which health and education are linked. Recent work has included several studies related to value-added measures of teacher performance, teacher effectiveness in the early grades, school choice, teacher mobility, and special needs identification. She has led numerous grants from a variety of sponsors, including the Institute of Education Sciences and various state agencies and foundation. She has taught courses in education policy, economics of education, value-added, policy analysis, quantitative research methods, school choice, and microeconomics.


Esraa Al-Muftah, “Five Tales of (Im)Mobility: Female Academics’ Journeys at Qatar University”

Esraa Al-Muftah is a PhD candidate in Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. She is completing a dissertation on the internationalization of Qatar University in which she examines the relationship between academic mobility, internationalization, and knowledge production. Esraa earned her M.A. in Sociology and Education with a concentration in Educational Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2014. Prior to that, she completed her B.A. in Psychology with a Diploma in Special Education from the American University of Beirut in 2011.

ABSTRACT: Massey (1993) argues that mobility needs to be understood as a process in which people are not simply included or excluded, but also as a process that positions certain social groups as being “in charge” more than others (p. 62). Hence, mobility is a form of resource with which “not everyone has an equal relationship” (Skeggs, 2004, p. 49). I draw on this notion of (im)mobility to understand how certain policies during different eras of Qatar’s recent history have disadvantaged and advantaged different ethnicized and gendered bodies. I do this by exploring the academic journey of five faculty members at Qatar University, hired at different times in its history (from the late 70’s to the present). Their transnational experiences tell the story of how different generations of female academics experienced different forms of (im)mobility during both Qatar’s early nation-building era and during its current efforts toward internationalization. In addition, the stories demonstrate how women disrupted social and politically reproduced norms and policies to stimulate changes for the generations that would come after them. This presentation is part of a wider project that exposes how experiences of (im)mobility continue to impact the way scholars generate knowledge in a policed higher education space.

Reem Awny Abuzaid, “The Allegories of Feminist Legal Activism: Local Tools and Anticolonial Discourses”

Reem Abuzaid is a PhD candidate at the University of Warwick, UK. She has an MSc in sociology from LSE, an MA in political science, and an LLM in international and comparative law from AUC. Her previous studies focused on social movement, issues of law and society, and, particularly, the application of strategic litigation as a political tool in the Egyptian context. Abuzaid has published contributions on the topic of feminist activism in MadaMasr, an Egyptian independent journal, center for alternative policy solutions at the American University in Cairo, and the Journal for Middle East Women’s Studies (JMEWS).  Currently, Abuzaid studies the contextual and temporal centrality of the 2011 revolution on the ways by which Egyptian feminists conduct their legal activism. In general, Abuzaid is interested in issues of the distributive power of the law and its influence on gender relations both in theory and praxis.

ABSTRACT: This paper is about female lawyers in the litigation movement in Egypt. For more than thirty years, female lawyers contributed to building a movement around citizens’ rights and its fulfillment in national law; to achieve that, some of them provided legal aid and drafted case submission pleading innocence of political activists under state attack to put an end to its authoritarian practices and, in the meanwhile, opens up the public sphere for political activism and gives a chance to citizens to practice their freedom of expression. Others ventured into a more organized form of legal activism to challenge state policies hindering citizens’ rights in front of the Administrative and Constitutional courts. Collectively, the effort of these lawyers pushes the state to abide by its international obligations towards its citizens especially those from the most vulnerable categories such as women and LGBTQ citizens. The paper established its theoretical foundation on the intersectional area between the feminist theory and the social movement theory. Aside from these lawyers’ gender, which is a subject of this paper, they are also agents in the litigation movement, and their activism is also a subject of interest to this paper. The paper provides a narrative on how female lawyers shape the cause, the model of operation, and the outcome of the litigation movement; it discusses cases and events of legal confrontations where these lawyers played a central role in determining the strategic goal of the whole movement.

Amel Hammami, “Women Legislative Participation as a Factor of Political Change in the MENA”

Dr Amel Hammami holds a PhD in Law.  She wrote her PhD thesis, in a joint Law and Economics program between the University of Sousse and University of Hamburg, where she advocates a counterterrorism model that focuses on raising the opportunity cost to becoming a terrorist. She also holds a Master’s degree in European Interdisciplinary Studies from the College of Europe in Natolin and an MSc in Public Law from the University of Sousse.Amel has been working as a Senior Academic Assistant at the College of Europe in Natolin since September 2020. She started her career in 2013 as a Teaching Assistant of Law and she has worked as Researcher in security and development programs in different international organizations since 2016. Her research focus is on security, gender, socio-political transformation in the MENA, and EU-MENA relations.

ABSTRACT: Women representatives in the MENA region change in parallel manner with the political and economic changes. The slow and nonlinear changes together with the critical and stagnating cultural, political and socio-economic situation of women made it difficult to understand if these are top-down changes or real acquis led by woman power. In order to understand the impact of women descriptive representatives on substantive representation in the MENA region, I will use qualitative and quantitative analysis tools to compare the increase of proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments with the pace of women’s rights legislations. I apply this method to the women numerical representatives and legislators’ output in different Arab MENA countries.

I decide to investigate the relation between the descriptive and substantive representatives in the period of twenty years between 1999 and 2019 regarding the big development that these countries witnessed in this period. This period covers at least two parliamentary elections in each studied case and allows us to compare the different development paces between the descriptive representation and the woman legislations.

To measure women descriptive representation, we use the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments from the World Bank Database and UN Gender Statistics. Women’s rights also refer to either new rights or more rights protection measures. Woman rights legislation may take the form of the adoption of new legislation, upgrading of women’s rights legislation, and ratification of woman rights international treaties. The official legislator website of each country and the UN Women provide us with the legislative texts and activities that present the substantive representation in the sense of this work.

Research question: does the numerical increase in women representatives lead to more woman rights legislations?

Hypothesis: 1.Descriptive representations by gender improve substantive representations for women.

2.Descriptive representations by gender doesn’t substantive representations for women.

June 23 PANEL 2 (AUB – West Hall Auditorium B) Questions of Agency: Women and Religion in the Middle East

Chair/Discussant: Amel Grami, University of Manouba

Amel Grami Prof. Dr. is a professor of Gender Studies at Faculty of Literatures, Arts and Humanities at the University of Manouba, Tunisia. Her field of interest is Gender Studies (Gender in Islam, Gender and religion), Women’s Studies (women in Maghreb, Africa) She is the Coordinator of the of MA Gender Studies Program, the Editor of Humanities: revue de littératures et sciences sociales and Gender Lens. She is the author of many articles and books among them: Gender Equality in Tunisia, Gender and Diversity, the debate on religion, law and gender in post-revolution Tunisia.


Maha Ghalwash and Amany Elhedeny, “Salafi Women in Contemporary Egypt: the Challenge of Integration”

Maha Ghalwash ( is Associate Professor of Middle East History & Politics.  She holds a PhD in Near Eastern Studies (awarded by Princeton University), and currently teaches at the British University in Egypt where she is a founding member of the Department of Political Science.   Her research focuses on peasant societies during the nineteenth century:  specific issues include the impact of law on society, women’s rights to land, peasant petitions, peasant-state relations; peasant politics. She also examines contemporary Islamist movements: specific issues include Islamist parties, the Salafi movement, politics of the veil.

Amany Elhedeny ( studied and works as a professor in Cairo University- Egypt. She received her joint supervision PhD by Cairo University and Institute of Social Studies (ISS), the Hague, Holland. She got her MA on: “Egyptian labor migration to the Gulf States: Reasons and Consequences”. Then, she got a postgraduate diploma in International Relations and Development (IRD) in 1994 from ISS, Holland. She also received a Diploma in English / Arabic translation from Ain Shams University, Cairo in 1997. In 2001, she got her third diploma in Human Resources and Development, (HRD) in ISS, The Hague. She posted her doctoral fellowship in Leiden University in Holland in 2004. Out of her special interest of “interdisciplinary” topics, she gives more interests to the socio-political dimensions in studying politics. She is the first political science scholar – in the Arab World- that wrote her empirical PhD part on poverty and & Slums from a political perspective.  She worked as a lecturer in Nebraska Wesleyan University in the USA during academic year 2003/2004 and as a Fulbright scholar in Winona University in Minnesota, USA in 2004.

ABSTRACT: Modern Egyptian society tends to hold a negative view of Ultra-conservative (Salafi) women; generally regarding these as regressive, passive non-individuals that completely lack agency.  Other women generally prefer to avoid them, steering clear of them in public; not interested in associating with them or being associated with them.  Such ideas are formulated independently of real understanding of the world of Salafi women.  This study seeks to shed light on the realities of this world by focusing on four points: (i) The major factors that prompt women to embrace and observe Salafi teachings; (ii) how Salafi women view the non-Salafi female “other”; (iii) and their attempts to build an imagined community of ‘true Muslim women’; (iv) the activity of Salafi women in public arenas: specifically, at work, in politics. The study relies on interviews conducted with two groups of Salafi women: the first are students and university staff; and the second, which consists of unemployed, married women, is used in order to highlight the characteristics of the new ‘moderns’.  Thus this paper is premised on the realization that Salafi women are not a homogeneous group, as some women identify themselves as being more ‘modern’ than others; and it focuses on the ‘moderns’.   It argues that these women cannot be viewed as ‘victims’ of patriarchy; but rather as individuals with agency.  Unlike the ‘traditionalist’ women, the ‘moderns’ agree to participate in integrated arenas, most notably the work space, where they interact regularly with male colleagues and non-Salafi women.  Such participation grants them the opportunity to engage in ‘quiet assertiveness’, which involves refraining from changing the ‘secular’ ideas regulating this space and merely seeking societal recognition of their right to be ‘true Muslim women.’

Dina Hosni, “‘Official’ Female Preaching in Egypt and the Reshaping of Women’s Agency”

Dina is a Ph.D. holder from the Institute of Sociology at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main. Her dissertation entitled the Religio-Political Visibility of Female Post-Islamist Youth in Egypt has explored different forms of activism of young Muslim women in Egypt post 2011 Egyptian Uprisings. Her research interests include the politics of gender and youth, and political activism. She is currently engaged in the activity of female Muslim preachers in Egypt and their power dynamics.

ABSTRACT: The paper is a follow-up analysis of an ethnographic study on the impact of the recent ‘official’ appointment of Egyptian female preachers on the question of women’s agency.  Unprecedentedly around 300 female preachers appointed by the Ministry of Religious Endowments who were sent out across the country were allowed to give religious sermons in mosques on issues related to women, family and society. The paper seeks to examine the nature of discourse generated in this evolving Islamic public and its impact on women’s participation in the public sphere.

The linkage between religious preaching as among piety structures and agency has been discussed in previous research in the way they could be reproductive and transformative (Anderson, 2011; Mahmood, 2012). That could be complemented with the study of religious spaces which underscores the way gender spaces are constructed in a different way across different settings and the way these constructions allow and constrict women’s movements (Massey, 1994). The paper seeks to combine the two notions by bringing together the act of female preaching and their occupation of the mosque as a public space as correlates of the issue of women’s agency and level of participation in the public sphere. It thereby contributes to previous work on piety movements and their production of different modalities of agency (Avishai, 2008; Mahmood, 2012) by throwing light on the interplay between conventional and non-conventional forms of agency.

Since the paper seeks to examine the evolving discourse of these female preachers and the way they negotiate meanings focusing on social spaces and knowledge production, two integrative methods of qualitative research are used; namely, semi-structured interviews and participant observation.

Mateo Mohammad Farzaneh, “The Other Women: Iran’s Mighty and Marginalized”

ABSTRACT: Secular state reforms during the rule of the Pahlavi monarchy (1925-79) in Iran aimed to modernize the country and liberate women and make them more equal to men. Theoretically, the state’s feminist policy was all-encompassing but practically it marginalized a large majority of women as the state forcefully removed the hijab and allowed whose who accepted such changes to progress, which left millions of females behind. This large group of females, which I refer to as the “other women,” were marginalized because of the secular nature of the reforms that disregarded their cultural sensitivities as they did not appreciate the Western model of change that the state practiced. The “other women” came either from poor, highly religious (Twelver Shiites), small town and rural areas, and in many cases they were non-Persian (e. g. Arabs, Azeris, Kurds). In this paper, I discuss how these “other women” took an active role in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), and consequently changed its outcome. Additionally, I will explain how this group of women simultaneously challenged their ascribed gender roles and expectations. This is significant because their participation in the war took place while the theocratic regime demonstrated its highly repressive stance toward women through judicial and social policies while promoting its “Islamic” agenda limiting women’s social engagement only to the interior of their homes. Sources used in this study are women war participants’ memoirs, interviews, and unpublished accounts of their involvement in the war. The continuing women’s struggle against the Iranian government’s repressive treatment of women despite their important role in the war makes this a relevant subject.

June 23: PANEL 1 (AUB – West Hall Auditorium A) Marriage and Household Formations: Implications for Women and Girls

Chair/Discussant: Kathryn Rebecca Maude, American University of Beirut

Kathryn Maude is Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the American University of Beirut, where she directs the Women and Gender Studies Initiative. Her own work focuses on medieval women’s writing, and her book Addressing Women in Early Medieval Religious Texts was released in 2021.


Ali Capar, “Child (Minor) Marriages in Muslim Communities in the Ottoman Empire: In the Light of Fatwas and the Ottoman Court Records”

Dr. Ali Çapar is a historian of the Ottoman Empire, with a particular interest in religious/confessional identity, child marriages and the concept of childhood in the Ottoman Empire. Dr. Çapar earned his master’s degree in 2013 and his doctorate in 2017 from the University of Arkansas. He has been working as Assistant Professor at the Cankiri Karatekin University in Turkey since 2018.Dr. Çapar conducted extensive research on the concept of children and childhood in the last few years. Besides examining the primary sources related to the discipline of history, he also examined primary sources affiliated with the disciplines of literature, sociology, art history and law.

ABSTRACT: In this paper, the practice of child (minor) marriages among Muslim communities in Ottoman Anatolia between the 16th and late 19th century will be examined. Although child marriages were predominantly practiced by Muslim communities- mostly between minor females and adult males- in the Ottoman Empire, there is no comprehensive work examining that topic. This paper fills that gap by focusing on the concept of childhood in the Ottoman Empire and its transformation,  the relationship between moral and marriage in the Ottoman Muslim society and its impacts on early age marriages, various ideas of the prominent Ottoman shaik’ul-Islams and ulamas on child marriages, the efforts of the ulama to protect minor girls from unfavorable marriages, the steps and rules of arrangement of early age marriages, the social and financial motivations behind arranging that type of marriages, the consumption of minor marriages, the strategies followed by minor women to avoid unwanted marriages, and divorce cases. Examining these aspects of minor marriages will contribute to the understanding of family life and its structures, child marriages, and the main religious, social, and economic motivations of practicing child marriages in Ottoman Anatolia and the Middle East between the 16th and 19th centuries. This research would contribute to the understanding of the roots of child marriages, which has been a significant problem in our community even in modern times. On the basis of the fatwas of prominent Ottoman ulamas on child marriages, namely Ebu’s Suud Efendi, Çatalcalı Ali Efendi, Şeyhülislam Yenişehirli Abdullah Efendi, İbn-i Kemal, Şeyhülislam Feyzullah Efendi, Khayr al-Din bin Ahmad al-Faruqi al-Ramli, and some other Şeyhülislams from the 19th century, the cases regarding child marriages in the court records of the cities of  Antakya, İstanbul, Balıkesir, Bursa, Konya, Nablus, Trabzon, Kahire and İstanbul, children magazines and journals, moral books, the accounts of travelers and missionaries, and secondary sources written in Turkish, Arabic, English and French, this paper will comprehensively examine all aspects of child marriages in the Ottoman Empire.

Merve Kütük-Kuriş, “Between New Conservatism and the Ritual Economy of Marriage: Being a Newlywed Bride in Turkey”

Merve Kütük-Kuriş is Assistant Professor of Politics and Gender at Istanbul 29 Mayis University. Kütük-Kuriş received her BA degree in Political Science from Istanbul Bilgi University, and her M.Phil. degree in Political Theory from the University of Oxford. She completed her Ph.D. in Politics at SOAS, University of London. Her main research interests revolve around political theory, social theory, political ethnography, sociology of Islam, and gender with particular reference to the Middle East. Kütük-Kuriş has published in edited collections and peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Religions, and Women’s Studies International Forum.

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the construction of the ideal bride in Turkey’s media culture and wedding industry. Marriage rituals in the Middle East have always involved planning and celebration, but the global wedding industry boom has resulted in their commodification and commercialization. Conventional and social media, and market players from event organizers to photographers, play significant roles in articulating and sustaining brides’ “needs” and “desires.” In Turkey, bridal TV shows such as Gelin Evi (Bride’s House) and Ana Kuzusu (Mommy’s Girl) have recently become popular. Newlywed female contestants evaluate each other’s interior design choices, cooking skills, trousseaus, engagement ceremonies, henna nights, and wedding celebrations. This new daytime TV genre is designed to replace matchmaking shows on the grounds that the matchmaking format “harms” social customs and “destabilizes” the Turkish family. These programs represent the ideal Turkish bride through her ability to blend traditional marriage practices (e.g. showing her trousseau, or displaying her home) with the dictates of neoliberal capitalism and consumerism. Bridal TV shows therefore reflect the AKP’s economically neoliberal and socially conservative policies. But even though the ritual economy of marriage motivates newlywed women to become “princesses of their own homes,” these TV shows also reveal how contestants challenge commodified trends and standards. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper asks: How do bridal TV shows define the ideal Turkish bride? What are the conditions under which these definitions are adopted? How and to what extent do newlywed women contest marriage norms?

Abir Kamara, “Mixed Marriage in Cosmopolitan Alexandria”

– باحثة دكتوراة في التاريخ الحديث والمعاصر – كلية الآداب – جامعة القاهرة

-تخصصت في تاريخ النساء

– موضوعي المسجل للحصول علي الدكتوراة  منذ سبتمبر 2018 بعنوان:  “” سفر النساء وهجرتهن إلي مصر في القرن التاسع عشر”” ، تحت إشراف الأستاذ الدكتور محمد عفيفي

– حاصلة علي الماجستير عام 2017 في موضوع بعنوان: “” المرأة في المجتمع السكندري في النصف الأول من القرن العشرين”” تحت إشراف الأستاذ الدكتور محمد عفيفي والأستاذ الدكتور أحمد عبد الله زايد

– حصلت الرسالة علي جائزة رؤوف عباس كأفضل رسالة في التاريخ الحديث والمعاصر في جامعة القاهرة للعام الدراسي 2016-2017  ،ونشرت ككتاب بعنوان: “”المرأة والمدينة الكوزموبوليتانية: تاريخ الجندرية في المجتمع السكندري””، في دار نشر العربي في القاهرة عام 2018

– حاصلة علي دبلوم عليا في الآثار المصرية – كلية الآثار جامعة القاهرة 1993

– حاصلة علي ليسانس آداب – قسم التاريخ- كلية الآداب – جامعة القاهرة 1991

– أعمل في وزارة التربية والتعليم منذ عام 1994

–  أشغل وظيفة موجه أول لمادة الدراسات الاجتماعية  منذ عام 2020

ABSTRACT: Mixed marriage which gathered couples of different racial, ethnic, or religious groups was one of the factors that shaped the Alexandrian society, during the period between mid-nineteenth and first half of twentieth centuries. Because of that society, Alexandria has obtained distinguished position in modern and contemporary history of Egypt and Mediterranean. Due to a combination of economic and political factors in Egypt and throughout the Mediterranean, Alexandria has witnessed waves of migration, whether internal from Egyptian villages and cities, or external from the Mediterranean, and this led to the multiplication of its population nearly a hundred times during a century and a half, these migrations also led to the formation of a cosmopolitan society in Alexandria. During research on my MA. Thesis in history, which is titled “Women in Alexandrian society in first half of 20th century”, it became clear to me how mixed marriage helped to integrate races and cultures in the city. From this point, I intend to study mixed marriage Through marriage contracts in Alexandria in the first half of the twentieth century, which were held -for legal reasons- according to Islamic law, and brought together opposites of different nationalities, ethnicities and religions. This paper aims to study this by asking about: How far did mixed marriage express the gender dimension between the city races, and how women voices and their multiple cultures emerged through it? What kind of rebellion that marriage showed against prevailing patriarchal values?

June 23: PANEL 2  (AUB – West Hall Auditorium B) Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: State, Employer, and Activist Responses

Chair/Discussant: Gretchen King, Lebanese American University

Dr. Gretchen King is Assistant Professor of Multimedia Journalism and Communication at LAU and serves as advisor and co-facilitator of the “Rally against Apartheid” educational initiative at LAU’s Institute for Media Research and Training. An award-winning journalist, Dr. King served as news director at CKUT 90.3 FM in Montreal for ten years for which she was presented the Community Radio “Legend”/Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 presented by the National Campus and Community Radio Association of Canada. Dr. King co-founded numerous multimedia initiatives, including “Radio Free Palestine” an international, twenty-four hour radio broadcast that marks the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. Dr. King also helped to co-found the Community Media Advocacy Centre in 2015, and where she continues to act as a research consultant. Her scholarship focuses on nonprofit, Indigenous, and community media research, policy, teaching, and practice; journalism studies; critical audience studies; feminist and gender studies; alternative media and community radio in the regions of North America, North Africa, and West Asia.


Farah Ghazal, “The Basha’s Tools? Reconsidering Carceral Approaches to Sexual Harassment”

Farah Ghazal currently works as a senior researcher at the Alternative Policy Solutions (APS) project based in Cairo. She holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) in International and Comparative Law (2021) and B.A. in Political Science (2018) from the American University in Cairo.

ABSTRACT: Dominant narratives around ending sexual harassment in Egypt today align with carceral feminism – a specific brand of feminism which advocates law-and-order responses to crimes of sexual and gendered violence. These responses typically include punitive measures, such as longer, harsher prison sentences. The majority of actors in Egypt (local and international NGOs, CSOs, and others) concerned with sexual harassment appear to support the view that incarceration presents a progressive step in recognizing and ending violence against women. What is the genealogy of this view? What are some of the international dimensions that could have enabled and sustained this particular advocacy? I suggest in this paper that the answers to these questions reveal seldom explored links between feminist politics elsewhere, particularly in the US, and the development of feminist advocacy in Egypt. Much has been written about the reasons why this carceral, mainstream feminism is problematic, and even counterproductive. I aim to explore particularly three, interrelated reasons as they relate to the Egyptian context. First, it decontextualizes harassment as an inherent, innate feature of Egyptian men (and therefore, isolated from socioeconomic conditions); second, it enables the human-security state narrative (where the State emerges victorious as a savior of women); and third, it is implicated in upholding and supporting the prison as an institution of justice (one which could be said to be, in essence, antifeminist). Having established these reasons, I attempt to then investigate how/why it is that incarceration came to be the default method of combatting sexual harassment in Egypt. What role, if any, do international feminist movements play in the advocation of incarceration as that method? Ultimately, can we trace and/or envision an abolitionist feminist activism in Egypt?

Michaela Grančayová, “An Egyptian Phoenix? The Role of Authoritarian Sexual Harassment in the Reactivation of Egyptian Feminism in 2011”

Michaela Grančayová is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences of Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. In her PhD thesis, she deals with anti-sexual harassment movement within the Arab Spring in Egypt and its aftermath. Among other topics of her interest are women´s revolutionary graffiti (in Egypt), the role of Muslim women in European politics, securitization theory and modern trends in Islam.

ABSTRACT: The study explores how politically motivated sexual harassment provoked a new wave of feminist activism during the Arab Spring in Egypt in 2011. It looks at how sexual assaults that the regime directed at women in an attempt to dissuade them from political participation resulted in emergence of new feminist organizations and strategies. In the existing literature there still remains an unexplored area as to the influence of this clash on the role of Egyptian feminist organizations, mainly on shaping their new agenda and strategy in fighting the sexual harassment such as the HARASS map and various feminist street art. Since Egypt is one of the cradles of Arab feminism and one of the key players in the Middle East, this research is crucial as it helps us understand the Arab Spring from the female perspective and explores the contribution of Egyptian women to political change. The research design relies on semi-structured interviews with female protestors in Egypt and a social constructivist approach to studying gender and sexuality.

Sofiane Bouhdiba, “Sexual Emancipation and Violence against Women in the 21st Century: The Case of the Gulf Region”

Professor of demography in the University of Tunis, international consultant in the United Nations, specialised in gender studies. Pr Sofiane Bouhdiba has written 18 books and more than 40 scientific articles.

ABSTRACT: Today, in the beginning XXIst century, the Arab woman is still victim of persecution and punishments. But the most revolting is that such practices are often considered as legitimated by the Islamic tradition. In fact, Muslim myths present to us the image of the woman stoned in a public square because she had sex with somebody else than her husband. But on the other side, under the effect of globalisation, Arab societies are proud to present the image of a modern woman, enjoying a free sexual life. What happened during 14 centuries of Islam? What are the theoretical rights and practical situation of Arab women regarding to her sexual life? To what extent can we talk about sexual empowerment of the Arab woman? Are all Muslim women enjoying the same sexual rights in the Gulf region? Why are some of them protected while others are still suffering from violence from their fathers, husbands or brothers? These are some of the questions to which I will try to find answers through this sociological study. The research is organized into three sections. The first one gives a brief overview of sexual and gender-based violence in the gulf region. The second part examines the Islamic historical representation of violence against women in the Gulf region. The last part of the research discusses the policies of the Gulf region governments in their struggle against sexual and gender-based Violence. That will be also the occasion to propose a series of realistic recommendations.


UPDATE: Notifications to applicants have been sent out. If you submitted an abstract and did not receive a notification, please check you junk/spam folder first and if you still did not find a notification, please email Rasmieyh Abdelnabi at 

We received over 400 abstracts and can only accommodate around 70, demonstrating to us the timeliness and need for a conference centered on women’s, gender, sexuality, and feminist studies in/of the region. The AMEWS Executive Board and Conference Planning Committee are greatly looking forward to this opportunity to collaborate and share in critical knowledge production. With this first step, we hope this will become a regular event that will bring women’s, gender, sexuality, and feminist scholars from and/or of the region together in meaningful conversation.

Planning Committee: Fatima Sadiqi, Chair; Jennifer Olmsted, Hanadi Al-Samman, Louise Cainkar, Amaney Jamal, Suad Joseph, Rasmieyh Abdelnabi, Myriam Sfeir, and Nadine Mezher


The Association for Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS) is pleased to invite submissions of abstracts for an international conference on gender and women’s studies in the Middle East in the second week of March 2021 in Beirut, Lebanon, in partnership with local universities (American University of Beirut and Lebanese American University).  This is the first AMEWS conference in the Middle East.  The conference engages scholars from multiple locations in and outside of the region, on the cutting-edge topics propelling research on gender and women’s studies in the Middle East  and with populations in the diaspora. The call is open to the broad range of topics on gender and women’s studies in the social sciences and humanities: politics, economics, history, sexualities, culture, arts, digital humanities and so forth. The abstracts will be reviewed and thematically organized.  There may be invited speakers and sessions.  AMEWS expects to be able to fund the travel, accommodations and catering for the majority of the participants, with funding priority going to those residing in the Middle East.  Several products are planned, including publications and engagements with NGO’s and other local organizations committed to gender issues.  For more information about AMEWS, see and the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. If you are interested in participating, please send an abstract (250 words) on a topic of your interest – include in the abstract why you believe this is a pressing topic.

Abstract template:

Snail Mail:
Title of paper:
Abstract of 250 words.

Please send your abstracts to Angie Abdelmonem:

The deadline for sending abstracts is October 30, 2019.