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Transnational Anti-Imperialism and Middle East Women’s Studies

[Angela Davis, painted portrait in Lyon, France. Image by Thierry Ehrmann.]

Angela Davis, writing on US women’s prisons--where poor women, women of color, queer, and transgender people are disproportionately harassed, abused, and raped behind closed doors—asks, what if we named US women’s prisons as “secret” prisons, prisons that operate within the same political context and rely on similar forms of violence as the CIA’s secret prisons of the war on terror? Davis is referring to the CIA’s secret prisons in places like Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Morocco where suspected “enemy combatants” are tortured, sexually assaulted and raped. Individuals are tortured by US personnel at detention facilities directed by the CIA or by foreign agents within jails ...

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Sailing for Safe Abortion Access: The Emergence of a Conscious Social Nonmovement in Morocco

[Women on Waves ship sails in the closed port before being escorted away by Moroccan authorities. Image by Jan Visser.]

The story of nonmovements is the story of agency in the times of constraints - Asef Bayat  An international non-governmental organization, Women on Waves, collaborated with a local Moroccan collective, Mouvement alternatif pour les libertés individuelles (MALI), in a direct action ship campaign to promote safe abortion access in Morocco in October 2012. Women on Waves and MALI operate under the principle that a woman’s right to access a safe abortion is a fundamental human right. Based on Asef Bayat’s theory, medical abortion, in the particular political and cultural context of contemporary Morocco, can fit into the model of a social nonmovement. According to ...

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Rethinking Vulnerability and Resistance: Feminism & Social Change (16-19 September 2013, Istanbul)

[Image via the Center for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University.]

Rethinking Vulnerability and Resistance: Feminism & Social Change Women Creating Change Istanbul Workshop, 16-19 September 2013      Co-directors: Judith Butler and Zeynep Gambetti [More information is available on the website of the Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University.] There is always something both risky and true in claiming that women are especially vulnerable. The claim can be taken to mean that women have an unchanging and defining vulnerability, and that kind of argument makes the case for paternalistic protection. If women are especially vulnerable, then they seek protection, and it becomes the ...

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جسد المرأة الغواية ومحنة الإنسان - الجزء الأول

[رسم حواء وأدم من القرن الخمس عشر إسبانيا]

مقدمة: العولمة وعرش الجسد يتزامن نظام العولمة مع حضور طاغِ لجسد المرأة في الإعلام والإعلان. حضور يشتد يوماً بعد يوم، إن لجهة الكم أم النوع حيث يزداد هذا الجسد، في المرئي والمقروء، عرياً وأوضاعه غواية أو محاولة لها على الأقل. وتساهم تكنولوجيا التصوير وتأثيراته في لعبة الفتنة والترويج حتى ليكاد الإهتمام بالجسد، في الإعلان "الفذ" للألفية الثالثة، يغدو عديل الاهتمام بالفكر والأدب والفنون الذي استحوذ على الصحافة في العقود السابقة. مما يدعونا لتأمل هذا الموضوع الذي لولا أهميته في اللاوعي الجماعي والفردي البعيد منه والجديد، وقابلية استثماره في "اقتصاد السوق" لما تمكن من أن يتصدر المكانة التي "استحقها". في هذه اللعبة يتقاسام المروّج والمنفذ ...

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لا جسد لا سياسة

أن تسير في شوارع القاهرة، وفي فضاءها المديني العام، وعلى إحدى شوارعها الأخطبوطية المرتفعة، فيصدمك سترٌ وحجبٌ صوري، لجزء من جسد مؤنث في فوضى المدينة الدعائية الضوئية، فذلك وإن بدا جديداً في فظاظته؛ إلا أن المراقب لسيرورة الجسد في المجتمع المصري على مدى العقود الماضية يمكنه التنبؤ بذلك، وإن فاجأ البعض. وهذا الستر لكتف المغنية ونجمة الاستعراض المشهورة على جسر السادس من أكتوبرالقاهري، لابد له أن يذكرنا ببعض المجتمعات التي تأسست بهوسٍ جنسي مقدس، تمظهر حجباً وستراً، وكلها تنويعات على النفي، وصل حدود أن يقاس فيها التعبير عن الحرية ومظاهرها، بأن "يتمكن الرجل من أن يمسك يد زوجته في الشارع"(!!!). تلك بلاد تقوم على طمس التأنيث في المجتمع وقهره ونفيه، مسوغة لذلك بكل ...

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Call for Papers -- Transgressing the Gulf: Dissidence, Resistance, and Potentiality in the GCC States (9-10 September, Exeter)

[Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. Image by Derek Harper via]

Transgressing the Gulf: Dissidence, Resistance, and Potentiality in the GCC States 9-10 September 2013 University of Exeter A two-day symposium sponsored by the Centre for Gulf Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, 9-10 September 2013. What do we talk of, when we speak of "transgression" in the Gulf today? Are ideas of dissidence, dissonance and difference most easily cast in the light of the events of the Arab Spring and political transformations in the MENA region, or more appropriately set within the context of wider forms of transgressive potentiality in the Gulf?
Whilst many scholars working on the Gulf are ...

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Women's Rights in the Egyptian Constitution: (Neo)Liberalism's Family Values

[An anti-Muslim Brotherhood march in Cairo commemorating the second anniversary of the January 25 Revolution. Photo by Gigi Ibrahim]

“Woman and the constitution: Fear of woman’s marginalization rules over all” blared an April 2012 headline in al-Ahram, joining other protests over the role of women in Egypt’s new constitution. Organizations (“EgyptSoft”) sprang up, with articles and posts about how “the Egyptian woman screams in the face of the constitution of discrimination.” Fear reigned about how the post-revolutionary Islamist government would approach women’s rights, with many women’s organizations striking a defensive posture. The government of Mohamed Morsi pushed through the new constitution, despite protests all around, including a ritualistic hair cutting ceremony in Tahrir ...

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Thinking Citizenship in a Revolutionary Arab World: The Intransigence of Difference

[The Perfect Arab Citizen. Illustration by Khalid Albaih]

The ongoing Arab uprisings that began in Tunisia in late 2010 have demonstrated that citizenship in the Arab Middle East is a subject in need of much critical scholarship and intervention. Many scholars, working from an archive of political philosophy that begins with Rousseau's social contract, have assessed the Arab national project of producing citizens skeptically, as Suad Joseph has demonstrated. Moreover, there is tendency in political theory to view members of authoritarian, corporatist, and brutal states as “subjects” rather than “citizens.” As Lisa Wedeen, Mahmoud Mamdani, Rogers Brubacker, and others have argued, in such studies, citizenship appears as a ...

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Settler Colonialism and Alliance: Comparative Challenges to Pinkwashing and Homonationalism

[Image by Palestinians in Solidarity with Idle No More and Indigenous Rights]

Critics of Israeli pinkwashing in the United States and Canada have increasingly engaged in comparative critiques of settler colonialism. Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto has invoked this critique for many years. Pinkwatchers across Canada also draw ties between Palestinian and Indigenous solidarity that are heightened by the recent emergence in Canada of the Indigenous people’s movement Idle No More. Today, scholars and activists ask how homonationalism and pinkwashing perform settler colonialism in Palestine, Canada, and the United States, and how settler colonialism in each state impacts their work. I write this piece to encourage such questions, and to ...

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NEWTON in Focus: Thinking Through Gender and Sex

[NEWTON logo]

This week we highlight various NEWTON texts relevant to the study of gender and sexuality. The authors of these texts write from a wide range of perspectives, approaching questions relevant to the MENA region from a variety of cultural and political contexts and (inter)disciplinary approaches. We encourage you to integrate these texts into your curricula in the coming semesters. If you wish to recommend a book or peer-reviewed article for a feature in NEWTON—on any topic relevant to the region—please email us at To stay up to date with ongoing discussions by scholars and instructors in the field, be sure to sign up for Jadaliyya’s ...

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Statement Supporting Topless Tunisian Feminist

[Image from]

[The following statement was published by FEMEN on 22 March 2013.]  19 year old Tunisian Amina who posted a topless photo of herself bearing the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” has been threatened with death. Islamist cleric Adel Almi, president of Al-Jamia Al-Li-Wassatia Tawia Wal-Islah, has called for Amina’s flogging and stoning to death saying Amina’s actions will bring misfortune by causing “epidemics and disasters” and “could be contagious and give ideas to other women…” We, the undersigned, unequivocally defend Amina, and demand that her life and liberty be protected and that those ...

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الثورة أنثى

[مصدر الصورة ا.ب]

شاركت المرأة العربية في الثورات العربية على مدى السنتين الماضيتين باشكال وادوار مختلفة. ومع ذلك، يطل عيدها وسط محاولات حثيثة لاعادتها إلى البيت وإلى «بيت الطاعة» معما يرافق ذلك من استخدام للتشريعات  وللممارسات الاجتماعية ضدها. كل ما يرمي إلى الارتداد على الدولة المدنية يصيب المرأة. وهذا الارتداد يتجلى على أنه الدأب المركزي للحركات الإسلامية في السلطة أو خارجها. فتعميم قوانين الاحوال الشخصية الشرعية والمذهبية يكرّس ويعمم التمييز ضد النساء في الحقوق والاحوال الشخصية (في الإسلام والمسيحية معاً). والسعي لتغليب التشريع الديني على التشريع المدني - وعلى الديمقراطية! - يلقى ترجَمته في الانقلاب على مبدأ المساواة السياسية والقانونية بين المواطنين وعلى المساواة بين الرجل ...

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Press Release by Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault on Sexual Assaults during 30 June Demonstrations (Video)

[The following press release was issued by Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault (OpAntiSH) on 2 July 2013.] Press Release: Mob Sexual Assaults Reported to OpAntiSH during June 30th Demonstrations Hit Catastrophic Skies Mob sexual assaults reported to OpAntiSH during June 30th demonstrations hit catastrophic skies. Organizers bear responsibility and the Muslim Brotherhood reaches a new political low by politically exploiting reports. During the massive demonstrations that swept Egypt to ...

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No Apologies

Egypt at the moment feels like a series of battles and struggles, separated by geography but all ultimately linked together, hurtling towards some unknown destiny.  People are dying and politicians are floundering, however this post is about one fight: the one against sexual assault. The fight to free people’s bodies from sexual violence is a global one. Everywhere women and men have been and are raped, assaulted, and threatened with violent sexual language and gestures. The motivations seem ...

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New Texts Out Now: Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber, Arab and Arab American Feminisms

Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber, editors, Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2011. Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this collection? Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, Nadine Naber (RA, EA, NN): It was a year after 11 September 2001, and the three of us were on the same panel at the American Anthropological Association in New Orleans. As we sat at Café du Monde, we noted how Arab American and Arab ...

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Erdogan’s Masculinity and the Language of the Gezi Resistance

Most observers of Turkey have been surprised by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s unwillingness to compromise with the Gezi Park protestors, whose resistance for the preservation of an İstanbul park has transformed into a nationwide wave of popular urban protests—despite ongoing efforts at violent suppression—and threatens to become a full-fledged political, and economic, crisis. When Erdoğan hastily left the country for a North Africa trip after the escalation of protests, the moderate comments ...

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#resistankara: Notes of a Woman Resisting

Thousands of women filled the streets and squares in Ankara and took them back: spraying anti-teargas solutions in someone’s eyes, picking up the trash, advising people not to use swear words, but still talking, screaming, not keeping silent, swallowing, and walking, and walking again. The Gezi Park protests can be, and are being, analyzed in multiple ways. Meanwhile, on its nineteenth day as this piece is being written, the protests and the solidarity of the protestors continue to advocate for a life ...

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The Body as a Site of Contest: Sherene Seikaly on the Gendered Exercise of Power and Resistance

How is the body produced as a site of repression and resistence? Sherene Seikaly, Co-Editor at Jadaliyya, as well as Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Middle East Studies Center at the American University of Cairo, tackles this question by exploring the ways in which the Egyptian state's production of the body as a terrorized and passive political subject inspired people to take their lives into their own hands and revolt.  The state's theatrics of domination reveal a deep and ...

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Egyptian Women: Between Revolution, Counter-Revolution, Orientalism, and "Authenticity"

The Egyptian revolution appears to present a “gender paradox.” On the one hand, women have been marginalized in many formal political institutions since the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. On the other hand, representations and images of women and women’s bodies have been ubiquitous. Representations of women through media and art, as well as the regulation of women’s sexuality through state laws and constitutions are an essential part of defining national identity and national difference, marking ...

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العقاب الجنسي في الفولكلور

 لقَدْ عَزا الإنسانُ مُنْذُ القِدَمِ أسْبابَ الإصابةَ بالعللِ والأَمْراضِ والأزماتِ والنَّكَبات الشخصية إلى تَعَدّي الحُدُود الأخلاقية. فَحِينَ يُصابُ أحدٌ بآفة مَرَضيةٍ ما، أوْ يضطربُ سلوكُه أوْ نشاطُهُ أوْ يتعرّض لأية مِحْنَة مِنْ مِحَنِ الحياة يَتمّ تشخيص أوْ تعليل ما حَدَثَ على أنّه جَزاءٌ وفاقٌ لفعلٍ لا يُجوزُ قامَ به، أوْ فِعْلٍ يتوجّبُ لمْ يقمْ به. بِعِبارةٍ أخْرى أنّ ما أصابهُ مِنْ عِلّةٍ أوْ مَرض لَيْسَ إلا جريرة جرّها على نفسه نتيجة تعدّيه نُظُم الأخلاق والأعراف الإجتماعية التي تحْرصُ ...

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Women Under Seige: Stateless in Lebanon

Lebanon, and its capital Beirut, are often represented by the media as islands of freedom in the Middle East. The well-heeled neighborhoods of Achrafieh and Downtown are reminiscent of a Parisian boutique; while nightlife in Gemmayze and Hamra could compete with the scene in Berlin. But, behind the glossy images of ultra-futuristic skyscrapers and flawless female bodies, Lebanon is a country where women are not allowed to pass citizenship on to their children, or to their non-Lebanese husbands. The ...

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حورية المطلقة في سن الثالثة عشرة لا تنفع إلا لقراءة كتب الاطفال

رأيتها في بيت إحدى صديقاتي ، كانت تجلس في زاوية «الديوان» كما نسميه في اليمن. تنظر إلي وتبتسم إبتسامة خجولة. كل ماعرفته عنها أنها إبنة عم صديقتي: فتاه صغيرة تبدو في الإعدادي. لم تتفوه بكلمة طوال الجلسة. لم أعرف عنها شيئاً غير أنها ابنة عم صديقتي. مرت أيام وشهور. لما سألت عنه حورية، قالت لي صديقتي إن ابنة عمها تطلقت. سألتها عن السبب فحكت لي حكاية حورية: حورية فتاة يتيمة في الثالثة عشرة من العمر تعيش في بيت أخيها مع أمها العجوز وزوجة أخيها وأولادهما في منطقة متواضعة يغلب عليها الفقر. لم تكمل دراستها. ...

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الخوف والغضب: المرأة وعنف ما بعد الثورة

 أحد الملاحظات التي لا يمكن إغفالها أثناء انتفاضات ‘الربيع العربي’ في مصر وتونس أتت من النساء اللواتي ادعين أنهن شعرن أخيراً بالأمان في الأماكن العامة في مجتمعات سِجلّها من التحرش الجنسي ضد المرأة يدفع المرء لتمني الكثير من التحسن. إن اندماج المواطنين وتعبئتهم – الشاب والمسن، محجبات وغير محجبات، ذكر وأنثى، مسلم ومسيحي- في جبهة مدنية تطالب بحقوقها سيبقى صورة مثيرة – في حال زوالها بسرعة – للأحداث التي قادت لخلع أنظمة مبارك وبن علي. منذ ذلك الوقت، شاهدنا طوفاناً من الصور والمواد الإخبارية والتعليقات ...

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تودد أو الثورة التي لا تؤنث لا يعول عليها : الجزء الثالث: التأنيث في الشعر ثورة

[ هذه المقالة هي الثالثة في سلسلة مقالات. يمكن قراءة الجزء الأول هنا والجزء الثاني هنا] إنَّ القصيدة رَمْيَةُ نَرْدٍ  علي رُقْعَةٍ من ظلامْ تشعُّ، وقد لا تشعُّ فيهوي الكلامْ كريش على الرملِ / لا دَوْرَ لي في القصيدة غيرُ امتثالي لإيقاعها : حركاتِ الأحاسيس حسّاً يعدِّل حساً وحَدْساً يُنَزِّلُ معني وغيبوبة في صدي الكلمات وصورة نفسي التي انتقلت من أَنايَ إلى غيرها واعتمادي على نَفَسِي وحنيني إلى النبعِ / لا دور لي في القصيدة إلاَّ إذا انقطع الوحيُ والوحيُ حظُّ المهارة إذ ...

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