Middle East Studies

Nadje Al-Ali – Feminist Dilemmas: How to Talk about Gender-Based Violence in the Middle East?

event poster

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute
111 Thayer St.

Registration is at capacity

This talk will chart the trajectories and dilemmas of Nadje Al-Ali as a feminist activist/academic to research, write and talk about gender based violence (GBV) with reference to the Middle East. More specifically, she will be drawing on research and activism in relation to Iraq, Turkey as well as Lebanon—to map the discursive, political and empirical challenges and complexities linked to scholarship and activism that is grounded in both feminist and anti racist/anti-Islamophobic politics.

The political and academic aim to challenge essentialized ideas of Middle Eastern exceptionalism and conflated notions of Muslim, Arab/Middle Eastern culture has clearly been an on-going and familiar motivation for many academics/activists researching and writing on women and gender issues. Maybe more controversially, Professor Al-Ali will reflect on what she describes as “[her] increasing discomfort with narratives about GBV that focus solely on the impact of external factors, mainly framed with reference to imperialism and neoliberalism, instead of recognizing not simply complicity, but pro-active involvement of various local and regional actors.” Drawing on her previous work on Iraq, and her more recent work on the Kurdish women's movement and queer feminist activism in Lebanon, she will share the dilemmas and tensions involved in a transnational feminist knowledge production and activism.

Middle East Colloquium

Nadje Al-Ali has recently left her position as professor of gender studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London to join Brown as the Robert Family Professor of International Studies and professor of anthropology and Middle East studies. Her main research interests and publications revolve around feminist activism in the Middle East; transnational migration and diaspora mobilization; war, conflict and reconstruction; art & cultural studies and food. Her publications include Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present (2007, Zed Books); What kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq (2009, with Nicola Pratt, University of California Press), and Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East: The Egyptian Women’s Movement (2000, CUP). Her co-edited book with Deborah al-Najjar entitled We are Iraqis: Aesthetics & Politics in a Time of War (Syracuse University Press) won the 2014 Arab-American book prize for non-fiction. Her more recent research and publications focus on the Turkish-Kurdish conflict and the Kurdish women’s movement. She has been a member of the Feminist Review Collective, and is on the editorial board of Kohl: a journal of body and gender research. Prof. Al-Ali has been involved in several feminist organizations and campaigns, including being a founding member of Act Together: Women’s Action for Iraq, in addition to her involvement in trade union activism.