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Nadje Al-Ali

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Nadje Al-Ali

Director, Middle East Studies
Robert Family Professor of International Studies
Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies


Nadje Al-Ali is Robert Family Professor of International Studies and Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies. Her main research interests revolve around feminist activism and gendered mobilization, with a focus on Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and the Kurdish political movement. Her publications include What kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq (2009, University of California Press, 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 (2007, Zed Books), and Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East (Cambridge University Press 2000. 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. 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.


My research to date has focused on women’s and gendered mobilizations in the Middle East (Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and the Kurdish regions) as well as the gendered dimensions of transnational migration and diaspora mobilization (with reference to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq and the Kurdish political movement).

Recently I have finished co-edited a book entitled Gender, Islam & Governance (co-edited with Deniz Kandiyoti and Katherine Spellman), which builds on Deniz Kandiyoti’s classic edited volume Women, Islam & the State (1991). In this volume, we are exploring the links between the politics of gender and governance issues (both global and domestic) in relation to a selected number of Muslim majority countries as well as Muslim diasporas.

Currently, I am engaged in research for a new book project with the working title Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East to be published by Cambridge University Press. Building on previous research and activism in relation to Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and the Kurdish movement, I am exploring the centrality of gender and sexuality for understanding key developments and processes in the region. One of the specific angles I am exploring is the complex relationship between knowledge production about gender and sexuality with reference to the Middle East in academic and activist contexts.


2019. (ed. with Deniz Kandiyoti & Kathryn Spellman) Gender, Governance & Islam. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press. 

2019. ‘Feminist dilemmas: how to talk about gender-based violence with reference to the Middle East?’, Feminist Review; Issue 122: 16– 31.

2019. ‘Iraq: Gendering violence, sectarianisms and authoritarianism’, in Deniz Kandiyoti, Nadje Al-Ali & Kathryn Spellman (eds), Gender, Governance & Islam. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press. 

2019 (with Ghiwa Sayegh). ‘Feminist and Queer Perspectives on West Asia’, in Queer Asia (eds. Jonathan Daniel Luther & Jennifer Ung Loh). London & New York: Zed Books. 

2018. 'Sexual violence in Iraq: Challenges for transnational feminist politics.' European Journal of Women’s Studies. Vol. 25(1): 10–27.

2018. (with Latif Tas) ‘Reconsidering Nationalism and Feminism: The Kurdish Political Movement in Turkey’, in Nations & Nationalism 24 (2): 453-473. 

2018. ‘Arab Family Studies: Iraq’, in Arab Family Studies: Critical Reviews, ed. by Suad Joseph, Syracuse: University of Syracuse Press.  


Transnational Feminist Mobilizations & Knowledge Production

Gender & Sexuality in the Middle East

Talks & Media

‘Rethinking Orientalism: Gender, Body Politics and Authoritarianism in the Middle East’. Rutgers – Newark, November 2018.

‘Gendering Activism: Rethinking Power, Authoritarianism and Resistance’; invited keynote at Connecting Resistances in West Asia, North Africa and Europe; Al-Sharq and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Berlin, October 2018.

‘Feminist Dilemmas: How to talk about gender-based violence in the Middle East’; invited lecture at Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS University of London, October 2018.

Interview – Feminist Freedom Warriors: In conversation with Profs Chandra Mohanty & Linda Carty https://vimeo.com/266037388/80fd73d593; April 2018

‘Feminism in Crisis? Gender and the Arab Public Sphere’, invited keynote address at AUB, Beirut, January 2018.

‘Defining the Contours of Activist Scholarship in Human Rights’, invited keynote at conference on Activist Scholarship in Human Rights: New Challenges, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, June 2017.

Interview – Nadje Al-Ali. E-International Relations. http://www.e-ir.info/2016/01/30/interview-nadje-al-ali/, 2016

‘Transformation(s) in the Middle East and Beyond: Transnational Feminist Perspectives and Dilemmas’, invited keynote at conference on Political transformations – transformations of the political: feminist perspectives. University of Frankfurt, Germany, October 2016.

‘Gendering the Kurdish-Turkish conflict and attempts at peace: a talk with Nadje Al-Ali’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_yOfS3DkTM, 2016

‘Gendered perspectives on refugees and refuge’, invited lecture, German-Jewish Centre, University of Sussex, Brighton, 20 June 2016.

News|Recent News

Beyond Feminism? Jineolojî and the Kurdish Women’s Freedom Movement

December 17, 2020

In December, 2020, Nadje Al-Ali co-wrote, "Beyond Feminism? Jineolojî and the Kurdish Women’s Freedom Movement." In it, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies Nadje Al-Ali and co-author Dr. Isabel Käser explore the concept of Jineolojî, a new science and paradigm developed by Kurdish women to challenge western androcentric knowledge production and address gender-based inequalities within Kurdish society. 


Covid-19 and feminism in the Global South: Challenges, initiatives and dilemmas

July 23, 2020

In July 2020, Nadje Al-Ali wrote, "Covid-19 and feminism in the Global South: Challenges, initiatives and dilemmas," a piece addressing the gendered implications of Covid-19 in the Global South by paying attention to the intersectional pre-existing inequalities that have given rise to specific risks and vulnerabilities. 


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