Middle East Studies

Queer Studies | Activism in the Middle East

Queer Studies event poster

Thursday, March 18, 2021

12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Virtual event. 

 Registration required to submit audience questions. 

The panel will engage with both the Kohl special issue on queer feminisms and Ghassan Moussawi’s book, Disruptive Situations: Fractal Orientalism and Queer Strategies in Beirut, as part of a wider discussion on Queer Studies and activism with reference to the Middle East. Hosted by Nadje Al-Ali, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies.


Ghiwa Sayegh, editor-in-chief of Kohl
Sabiha Allouche, Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter
Ghassan Moussawi, assistant professor of Gender & Women's Studies and Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Virtual Event

About the Texts

Queer Feminisms Vol. 6 No. 3 | Winter 2020
This issue started with a writing workshop, titled “Queer Feminisms,” that took place in the midst of a revolution. In its tangible form, it continues to contemplate ways to engage with queer feminisms as they have been conceptualized and experienced in Arabic-speaking countries in particular, as well as transnationally. Our understanding of “queer” – as a contextual political positioning that brings social justice struggles together, rather than an “imported” theory that exists in isolation – has informed the many processes of assembling this collection.

Disruptive Situations: Fractal Orientalism and Queer Strategies in Beirut (Ghassan Moussawi)
Disruptive Situations challenges how sexuality has been used to provide an exceptional narrative about contemporary Beirut and modernity. It offers an alternative to the neoliberal narratives of Lebanese and Beiruti exceptionalism, highlighting the power of everyday “disruptive situations” in shaping LGBTQ life. Moussawi theorizes the concept of al-wad’, or “the situation,” a nebulous term used by people in Lebanon to refer to various “disruptive situations” caused by geopolitics, displacement, conflict, political instability, and wars. The book raise questions about spaces beyond Beirut, by asking what al-wad’ has to say about queer life in contexts where precarity and disruptions are the conditions of everyday social and cultural life.