SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Gender theory and the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year

The aim of this course is to offer a historical and critical survey of contemporary gender theory in order to explore the challenge of gender studies for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research. It will further examine the interface between gender theory and a variety of other theoretical perspectives applied to the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, including postcolonialism, critical theory, postmodernism and poststructuralism.The course will also investigate central questions of epistemology and methodology in relation to the application of gender theories in the field of cross-cultural studies. Students will be introduced to feminist and gender theory research methods and hermeneutics in order to develop research and interpretive skills for undertaking their own quantitative and qualitative research.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course as student should be able to demonstrate . . . 

  • an understanding of contemporary gender theory applied to the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the relationship between a variety of contemporary theory and cross-cultural study of gender
  • a comprehensive understanding of the variety of methodologies that these approaches offer the student of the cultures of Asia and Africa
  • the ability to record and reflect on the relevance of these approaches to her or his areas of research, particularly with regard to methodological application
  • the ability to critically evaluate a variety of books, journals and other sources of information relevant to the topics studied on the course
  • the ability to produce detailed written work on at least two approved topics relevant to the course


This course is taught over 22 weeks with three hours classroom contact per week (two hour lecture, one hour tutorial).

Scope and syllabus

Core topics
  • Naturalizing approaches: From women/men to gender
  • Psychoanalytic approaches: Gendered Selves & Sexual Difference
  • Materialist approaches: Gender, Class & Patriarchy
  • Post-structural approaches: Gender as Discourse & Representation
  • Gender, Sexuality & Power
  • Gender, Race & Ethnicity
  • Postmodernism & Identity Politics
  • Theorizing Men & Masculinities
  • Queer Theory
  • Gendering Orientalism
  • Gender and Imperialism: Violence and Resistance
  • Gender and Nationalism: Political Struggles and Cultural Productions
  • South-Asian Perspectives: Subaltern Studies
  • African Perspectives: Applied Gender & African Feminism
  • Middle Eastern Perspectives: Modernity, Islam and Struggles for Authenticity
  • Migration, Diasporas and Borders
  • Citizenship, Multiculturalism & Difference
  • Decolonizing Theory
  • Feminist epistemologies & methods

Method of assessment

One essay 50%

One book review 20%

Two reaction papers (responses to reading) 30%

Suggested reading

  • Abu-Lughod, Lila, ed. (1998) Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. NB305.42 /791268
  • Adams , Rachel & D. Davran, eds. (2006) 4th ed. The masculinity studies reader. Oxford: Blackwell. A305.31/916158
  • Alexander , M. Jacqui & Chandra T. Mohanty, eds. (1997) Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures. New York & London: Routledge, A 305.42/750127.
  • Basu. Amrita, ed. (1995) The Challenge of Local Feminisms: Women’s Movements in Global Perspective. Boulder, Oxford: Westview Press, A305.42/750127.
  • Bhavnani, Kum-Kum, ed. (2001) Feminism & Race. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A305.42 /968349
  • Butler, Judith (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York and London: Routlede. A305.3/627250.
  • Cole, Catherine; T Manuh & S. Miescher, eds. (2007) Africa After Gender? Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
  • Jacobs, Susie; Ruth Jacobson & Jennifer Marchbank, eds. (2000) States of Conflict: Gender, Violence and Resistance. London & New York: Zed Books. A305.43355 /807343
  • John, Mary (1996) Discrepant Locations: Feminism, Theory and Postcolonial Histories. Berkley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press. A305.42 /748735
  • Kandiyoti, Deniz, ed. (1996) Gendering the Middle East: Emerging Perspectives. London & New York: I.B. Tauris. NB305.42 /722678
  • Lewis, Reina (1996) Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity, and Representation. London: Routledge, Fa/725080.
  • Marchand, Marianne H & Jane L. Parpart, eds. (1995) Feminism, postmodernism, development. London & New York: Routledge. A305.42 /750238
  • McClintock, Anne (1995) Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. New York & London: Routledge. A305.30941 /737324
  • Mikell, Gwendolyn, ed. (1997) African Feminism: The Politics of Survival in Sub-Saharan Africa. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. U305.42 /812139
  • Mohanty, Chandra T. (2006) Feminism without Border: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham & London: Duke University Press.
  • Narayan, Uma (1997) Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions and Third World Feminism. New York & London: Routledge. A 305.42091724/751427.
  • Polity Press, ed. (1994) The Polity Reader in Gender Studies. Cambridge: Polity Press. A305 /747696
  • Sweetman, Caroline. ed. ( 2004) Gender, Development and Citizenship. Oxford: Oxfam. A323.6091724 /931019
  • Yuval-Davis, Nira (1997) Gender & Nation. London, Thousand Oaks & New Delhi: Sage Publications. A320.54 /835539
  • Yuval-Davis, Nira & Pnina Werbner, eds. (1999) Women, Citizenship and Difference. London & New York: Zed Books. A323.6082 /915897
  • Visweswaran, Kamala (1994) Fictions of Feminist Ethnography. Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press. JA305.42 /743323


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules