Middle East Studies

Book Talk | Gender, Governance and Islam

event poster

Thursday, November 7, 2019

5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute
111 Thayer St.

Following a period of rapid political change, both globally and in relation to the Middle East and South Asia, this collection sets new terms of reference for an analysis of the intersections between global, state, non-state and popular actors and their contradictory effects on the politics of gender.

The volume charts the shifts in academic discourse and global development practice that shape our understanding of gender both as an object of policy and as a terrain for activism. Nine individual case studies systematically explore how struggles for political control and legitimacy determine both the ways in which dominant gender orders are safeguarded and the diverse forms of resistance against them.

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Deniz Kandiyoti is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She holds degrees from the University of Paris (Sorbonne) and the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has worked on Turkey, post-Soviet Central Asia and Afghanistan and developed comparative perspectives on state, gender and power in the broader Muslim world. She made key theoretical contributions to analyses of patriarchy and male dominance. She is the author of Concubines, Sisters and Citizens: Identities and Social Transformation (in Turkish, 1997) the editor of Fragments of Culture: The Everyday of Modern Turkey (2002), Gendering the Middle East (1996), Women, Islam and the State (1991) and numerous articles on gender, women’s rights, Islam, development and state policies. She has also acted as consultant for UNDP, UNESCO, OSCE, UNIFEM, British Council, DFID and UNRI.

Nadje Al-Ali 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. Professor 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.

Kathryn Spellman Poots is a visiting associate professor at Columbia University and associate professor at Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations in London. Her work, mainly ethnographic and based in the UK, has centered on the Iranian diaspora, Shia transnational networks, cultural hybridity, gender relations and the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion. In 2019 Kathryn was awarded an Advanced Research Collaborative Fellowship at CUNY’s Graduate Center to develop her work on shifting communal boundaries in relation to specific political, social and material logics within Muslim diasporic communities. Her contribution to the co-edited volume Gender, Governance and Islam (2019) looks specifically at creative ways that diasporic women challenge dominant gender ideologies in the era of blatant Islamophobia and rising male centered authoritarianism. This has led to a new project on political ‘othering’ in the Trump era and the extent to which nativist discourses and fear mongering feed into and affect relations within and between discursively constructed minority communities. Kathryn serves as academic program director of the Islamic Studies MA program and played a central role in developing a Dual Degree with Aga Khan University in Islamic Studies and Muslim Cultures starting Fall 2020.