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Discourses on Islamic Feminisms in Regional and Global Contexts
The Center for Middle East Studies and the Department of English and the Department of International Studies at the American University of Sharjah present a Lecture by Dr. Mervat Hatem Professor ofPolitical Science, Howard University, Washington DC.
Dr. Mervat Hatem is professor of political science atHoward University in Washington DC. "I am a student of gender and politics inEgypt and the larger Middle East" she says. Her work has appeared in manyreferred journals and edited volumes that deal with the history, politics andeconomics of gender relations in the region. She is the editor of the Arabic readertitled Towards the Study of Gender in Political Science published in2010 by the Women and Memory Forum in Cairo, Egypt. She is also the author of abook titled Literature, Gender and Nation-Building in Nineteenth CenturyEgypt: The Life and works of `A'isha Taymur published in April of this yearby Palgrave-Macmillan press. She is former president of the Middle East StudiesAssociation (2007-2009. She received the American University in Cairo'sdistinguished Alumnus Award in 2008.
Abstract for "Discourses on Islamic Feminisms inRegional and Global Contexts"
The first section of this presentation examines theregional context that shaped the early discourses on women's relationship toIslam and feminism. It underlines the important role that the rise of theIslamic republic of Iran and the spread of political Islam played in mountingimportant challenges to the modernist national projects of the different MiddleEastern states and their discourses. The support that young generations ofwomen gave to these movements created a split in the ranks of Muslim women inthis part of the world pitting old secular feminist discourses against newIslamist and Islamic ones. The resulting polarization between the two and theirrepresentations of women's relationship to Islam created an opening forexpatriate Middle Eastern women in the north (specifically in the UK and theUS) to steer discussions in a different direction giving it academic depth andacquiring new political agendas.
The expatriate contribution offered powerful critiques ofthe dominant modernization discourse in Middle East women studies creating anew space for Muslim women to critically engage their religious tradition. Inreaction to this new enterprise, there were efforts by two American non-Muslimwomen to give Islamic feminism different sets of meaning that were more in tunewith the history of Western feminism and its agendas.
In the final section of the presentation, the works oftwo American Muslim women are examined as examples of the hegemonic andtransformative global discourses on the experiences of Muslim women in theminority Muslim societies of the West. In the conclusion, the presentationevaluates the challenges and the promise that these global discourses onIslamic feminism represents.
For more details, please contact Dr. Nawar Al-Hassan Golley [email protected]