Middle East Studies

Zahra Ali – Women and Gender in Iraq

event poster

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Virtual Book Event

Please click on this link to buy the book from the Brown Bookstore. The Bookstore is offering a 10% discount on event books using the code EVENT10.

Since the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the challenges of sectarianism and militarism have weighed heavily on the women of Iraq. In this book, Zahra Ali foregrounds a wide-range of interviews with a variety of women involved in women's rights activism, showing how everyday life and intellectual life has developed since the US-led invasion. In addition to this, Ali offers detailed historical research of social, economic and political contexts since the formation of the Iraqi state in the 1920s. Through a transnational and postcolonial feminist approach, this book also considers the ways in which gender norms and practices, Iraqi feminist discourses, and activisms are shaped and developed through state politics, competing nationalisms, religious, tribal and sectarian dynamics, wars, and economic sanctions. The result is a vivid account of the everyday life in today's Iraq and an exceptional analysis of the future of Iraqi feminisms.

Organized by Nadje Al-Ali, Robert Family Professor of International Studies, professor of anthropology and Middle East studies.

Virtual Event

zahra aliZahra Ali is a sociologist, her research explores dynamics of women and gender, social and political movements in relation to Islam(s) and the Middle East and contexts of war and conflicts with a focus on contemporary Iraq. She is an assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers University. Her book Women and Gender in Iraq: between Nation-building and Fragmentation (Cambridge University Press, 2018), is a sociological study of Iraqi women’s social, political activism and feminisms through an in-depth ethnography of post-2003 Iraqi women’s rights organizations and a detailed research on Iraqi women’s social, economic and political experiences since the formation of the Iraqi state.

She also co-edited the journal volume Pluriversalisme Décolonial with Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun (Kimé, 2017) that explores decolonial theories reflecting on non-eurocentric epistemologies, aesthetics, political thoughts and activisms. The volume draws on Latin American and Caribbean philosophies, concepts of creolization and racialization and explores Afropean aesthetics, arts and cultural productions, religion, feminisms, fashion, education and architecture. Zahra Ali also edited Féminismes Islamiques (La Fabrique editions, 2012; translated and published in GermanPassagen Verlag, 2014) that reflects on transnational Islamic/Muslim feminisms through a postcolonial and intersectional feminist perspective, analyzing the interrelationship between race, gender, religion and postcoloniality.


Nadje Al-Ali joined Brown as the Robert Family Professor of International Studies and professor of anthropology and Middle East studies in 2018, after leaving a long-term position at the Centre for Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. On July 1, 2020, she assumed the role of director of Brown University's Center for Middle East Studies. Her main research interests revolve around feminist activism and gendered mobilization, mainly with reference to Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Kurdish political movement. Her publications include Gender, Governance and Islam (Edinburgh University Press, 2018, co-edited with Deniz Kandiyoti and Kathryn Spellman Poots); What kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq (University of California Press, 2009, co-authored with Nicola Pratt); Women and War in the Middle East: Transnational Perspectives (Zed Books, 2009, co-edited with Nicola Pratt); Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present (Zed Books, 2007,); and Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2000. Her co-edited book with Deborah al-Najjar, titled We are Iraqis: Aesthetics & Politics in a Time of War (Syracuse University Press), won the 2014 Arab-American book prize award for non-fiction.

Professor Al-Ali is on the advisory board of kohl: a journal of body and gender research and has been involved in several feminist organizations and campaigns transnationally.