SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Gender in the Middle East

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 1

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this course, a student will:

  1. Have gained an overview of the main issues and debates within the study of gender in the Middle East;
  2. Have been introduced to a variety of empirical realities and conditions of women’s lives, gender ideologies and relations in the Middle East;
  3. Have challenged stereotypical ideas about women and gender in the Middle East;
  4. Have acquired a critical understanding of a range of methodologies and theoretical frameworks employed in the study of gender in the Middle East;
  5. Be able to critically evaluate a variety of books, journals and other sources of information relevant to the topics studies on the course;
  6. Have produced weekly written work (reaction papers) as well as detailed written work on one approved topic relevant to the course.


Two hours per week (one hour lecture, one hour tutorial)

Scope and syllabus

The aim of this course will be to offer an overview of the key issues in the study of gender in the Middle East. It will provide a specific area focus for students in Gender Studies, but also provide a gendered understanding of prevailing discourses, ideologies, social practices and trends for those students interested in Middle East societies and politics. The course is interdisciplinary in scope, readings and theoretical underpinnings ranging from history, sociology, anthropology to political science, media studies in addition to gender studies.

Core Topics:

  • Orientalism and Knowledge Production
  • The State & 'Gender Regimes': Modernization, Reform and Citizenship
  • Feminism and Women's Movements: Women's rights and the struggle for 'authenticity'
  • Exploring Masculinities: Hegemonic and subordinate masculinities
  • Gender and the Politics of Space
  • War and Conflict: Gendering Violence and Peace in the Middle East
  • Global Politics, Sexuality and the Middle East
  • Gender and Mobility
  • Women and Gender Post 2011

Method of assessment

One 2000 word essay (50% ), two best reaction papers 1000 words each (50%).

Suggested reading

  • AbuKhalil, As'ad (1997) ‘Gender Boundaries and Sexual Categories in the Arab World,’ Feminist Issues 15/1-2 (1997), pp. 91-104.
  • Abu Lughod, L. (2003) “Saving Muslim Women or Standing with them? On Images, Ethics, and War in Our Times”, Insaniyaat, Spring 2003, Vol. 1 Issue 1.
  • Abu Lughod, L. (1998) “Introduction” and “Feminists Longings and Post-colonial Conditions” in. Abu Lughod (ed.) Remaking Women. Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East. Princeton University Press
  • Accad , Evelyne (1991) ‘Sexuality and Sexual Politics: Conflicts and Contradictions for Contemporary Women in the Middle East’, in Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, Chandra Talpande Mohanty, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres (eds.) Bloomington: Indiana University Press: 237-250.
  • Afshar, H (1996) “Islam and Feminism: An analysis of Political Strategies” in: Yamani, M. (ed.) Feminism and Islam. New York University Press. Pp.197-217
  • Ahmed, Leila (1992) Women and Gender in Islam. Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. Pp. 41-123
  • Al-Ali, Nadje (2007) Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present. London & New York: Zed Books.
  • Al Ali , Nadje. (2005) Reconstructing Gender: Iraqi Women between dictatorship, war, sanctions and occupation Third World Quarterly, vol 26, no 4-5, Number 4-5/June 2005 , pp. 739-758(20)
  • Al Ali, N. (2000) Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East. The Egyptian Women’s Movements, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Al-Hassan Colley, Nawar (2003) Reading Arab Women’s Autobiographies. Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 131-180.
  • Bruce Dunne (1998) Power and Sexuality in the Middle East. MERIP, Spring 1998.
  • Charrad, M. (2000) “Lineage versus Individual in Tunisia and Morocco” in Souad Joseph (ed.) Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East. Syracuse University Press, pp. 70-88.
  • Cooke, M (2000) “Multiple Critiques: Islamic Feminist Rhetorical Strategies” in: “Nepantla: Views from South”, vol 1, no.1, pp.91-110.
  • Jad, I. (2005) “Between Religion and Secularism: Islamist Women of Hamas”, in Fereshteh Nouraie-Simone (ed.) On Shifting Ground: Muslim Women in the Global Era New York: Feminist Press
  • Johnson, P. and Eileen Kuttab (2001) “Where Have all the Women (and Men) Gone? Reflections on Gender and the Second Palestinian Intifada, in Feminist Review, n. 61, pp. 21-43.
  • Jonhson, P. (2006) “Living Together in a Nation of Fragments: Dynamics of Kin, Place, and Nation, in Lisa Taraki, (ed.) Living Palestine. Family Survival, Resistance, and Mobility under Occupation. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, pp.51-103.
  • Joseph, Suad (1999) Intimate Selving in Arab Families. Gender, Self, and Identity, Syracuse University Press.
  • Joseph, S. (2000) “Gendering Citizenship in the Middle East” in Souad Joseph (ed.) Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East. Syracuse University Press, pp. 3-33
  • Gandour, Sabah (2002) ‘Hanan Al-Shayks Hikayat’, in Lisa Suhair Majaj, Paula Sunderman & Therese Saliba (eds.) (2002) Gender, Nation and Community in Arab Women’s Novels. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, pp.231-252.
  • Hatem, M. (2000) “The Pitfalls of the Nationalist Discourses on Citizenship in Egypt”, in Souad Joseph (ed.) Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East. Syracuse University Press, pp 33-57.
  • Kandyioti, D. (1998) Bargaining with Patriarchy, in Gender and Society vol. 2, no.3.pp.282-89.
  • Kandiyoti, D. (1991) End of Empire: Islam, Nationalism and Women in Turkey, in: Kandiyoti, D. (ed.) Women, Islam and the State. Philadelphia: Temple University Press: pp.1-22.
  • Mernissi, F. (1982) “Virginity and Patriarchy” in: Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol.5, no.2:183-193.
  • Moghadam, (2002a) “Patriarchy, The Taleban and Politics of Public Space in Afghanistan”, in Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol 25, no. 1 pp.19-31.
  • Moghadam, V. (2002b) “Islamic Feminism and Its Discontents: Toward a Resolution of the Debate” in Signs, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 1135-1171
  • Moghissi, Haideh (1999) Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism. The Limits of Post-modern Analysis. London and New York: Zed Books, 1999 chapter 2
  • Najmabadi, A. (2005) Women with Mustaches and Men Without Beards. Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity. University of California Press. Chapter 7.
  • Winter Bronwin (2001) “Fundamental Misunderstandings: Issues in Feminist approaches to Islamism”, in Journal of Women’s History 13.1 pp.9-41
  • Yeğenoğlu, Meyda.(1998) Colonial Fantasies : Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism Cambridge : Cambridge University Press


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules