SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Gender in the Middle East II

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 2

The aim of this course will be to offer a more in depth and broader insight into 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, media and politics. The course is interdisciplinary in scope, readings and theoretical underpinnings ranging from history, sociology, anthropology to political science, media and cultural studies, in addition to gender studies. The course will  address current debates and processes linked to governance and political participation, militarism, education, Islamic feminism, secularism, legal contestations, gendered forms of resistance to authoritarianism, but will also cover other relevant issues, such as love and intimicacy, body politics, cultural productions  and gendered writings.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this course a student will: 

  • Have gained an overview of the current issues and debates within the study of gender in the Middle East;
  • Have been introduced to a variety of empirical contexts in which gender norms and relations in the Middle East are contested;
  • Have been introduced to new themes, and new approaches to existing developments and phenomena relevant to the study of gender in the Middle East;
  • Have acquired a critical understanding of a range of methodologies and theoretical frameworks employed in the study of gender in the Middle East;
  • Be able to critically evaluate a variety of books, journals and other sources of information relevant to the topics studies on the course;
  • Have produced regular written work (reaction papers) as well as detailed written work on one approved topic relevant to the course.


A weekly two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar over 10 weeks. 

Scope and syllabus

  • Governance and political participation
  • Gendering Militarism
  • Education
  • Legal Struggles
  • Islamic feminisms
  • Secular Contestations
  • Body Politics
  • Love & Intimacy
  • Autobiographies & Fiction: Gendered writing and creativity
  • Cultural Productions

Method of assessment

100% coursework. One 4000 word essay (50%); Five best reaction papers of 800 words each (50%).

Suggested reading

  • Fida Adely (2012) Gendered Paradoxes: Educating Jordanian Women in Nation, Faith, and Progress. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  • Anissa Helie and Homa Hoodfar (2012) Sexuality in Muslim Contexts: Restrictions and Resistance. London & New York; Zed Books.
  • Nadje Al-Al- (2000) Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East: The Egyptian Women's Movement. Cambridge: Cambridge Univerrsity Press.
  • Ayse Gul Altinay (2006) The Myth of the Military Nation: Militarims, Gender and Nation in Turkey. London & New York: Palgrave.
  • Saba Mahmood, 2005. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Lara Deeb, 2006. An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi‘i Lebanon. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Nilufer Gole, 1997. Forbidden Modern: Civilization and Veiling. University of Michigan Press.
  • Minoo Moallem, 2005.  Between Warrior Brother and Veiled Sister: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Politics of Patriarchy in Iran.  University of California Press.
  • Hasso, Frances (2010) Consuming Desires: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle
    East, Stanford University Press


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules