All of us working on women and gender issues within the Middle East and its diasporas face the dilemma of challenging orientalist, racist and Islamophobic depictions of Middle Eastern men and women, while addressing structural inequalities, systematic marginalization but also forms of resistance linked to patriarchy and heteronormativity. This new CMES initiative addresses this dilemma and aims at bridging and mediating between academic and activist positions, both within the region and in relation to diasporic communities. The initiative is based on the recognition that a gendered intersectional lens is central not marginal to a deeper analysis and understanding of political mobilizations, social developments and cultural expressions in the Middle East. A gendered lens also allows for a comparative perspective and collaboration with other regional centers and initiatives within the Watson Institute.
The initiative is led by Professor Nadje Al-Ali and will involve a series of seminars, book talks, film showings, workshops as well as relevant research.