SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East

Module Code:
Module Withdrawn
Year of study:
Year 1

Please note: Students must take the Term 1 module Gender in the Middle East - 15PGNH012 as a pre-requisite in order to take this module

The aim of this course will be to offer a more in depth and focused insights into the key issues in the study of gender and sexuality 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, cultures, 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 revoving aorund gender, sexuality and body politics.

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 one hour lecture and one-hour seminar over 10 weeks. 

Scope and syllabus

Core Topics

  • Methodological Impasses and Opportunities

  • The Intersectionality of Gender, Race and Sexuality

  • LGBT vs Queer Approaches

  • Decolonizing Sexuality

  • Moral Panics and the State

  • The Lebanese 'Puzzle'

  • The Political Economy of Desire

  • Rethinking Sexual Violence

  • Sexuality and Conflict in the Middle East

Method of assessment

100% coursework. One 2000 word essay (50%); 2 reaction papers of 1000 words each (50%).

Suggested reading

  • Frances Hasso & Zakia Salime 2016 (eds) Freedom Without Permission: Bodies and Space in the Arab Revolution. Durham & London: Duke University

  • Maha El Said et al 2015(ed.) Rethinking Gender in Revolutions And Resistance. London: Zed Books .

  • Inhorn, Marcia  (2012) ‘Why Me? Male Infertility and Responsibility in the Middle East’. Men and Masculinities 16(1) 49-70.

  • Sarah Hamdan (2015) ‘Becoming-Queer-Arab-Activist: The Case of Meem’, Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research Vol. 1, No. 2 (Winter 2015) 

  • Afsaneh Najmabadi (2008) ‘Transing and Transpassing across Sex-Gender Walls in Iran; Women's Studies Quarterly, Volume 36, Numbers 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 2008, pp. 23-42.

  • Lena Meari (2015) ‘Resignifying ‘Sexual’ Colonial Power Techniques: The Experiences of Palestinian Women Political Prisoners’, in Maha El Said et al (eds.) Rethinking Gender & Revolutions and Resistance. London & New York: Zed Books, pp. 59-85.

  • Nadje Al-Ali (2016) “Sexual violence in Iraq: Challenges for transnational feminist politics” European Journal of Women’s Studies, pp. 1-18.

  • Aymon Kreil (2016) ‘Territories of Desire: A Geography of Competing Intimacies in Cairo. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Vol 12, No 2, Summer 2016, pp. 166-180.

  • Claudia Liebelt (2016) ‘Grooming Istanbul: Intimate Encounters and Concerns in Turkish Beauty Salons’, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Vol 12, No 2, Summer 2016, pp. 181-202.

  • Inhorn, Marcia (2012) ‘Love Stories’, in Marcia Inhorn, The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Additional Reading
  • Paul Amar (2013) The Security Archipelago: Human-Security States, Sexuality Politics, and the End of Neoliberalism. Duke University Press.

  • Asli Zengin (2016) ‘Violent Intimacies: Tactile State Power, Sex/Gender Transgression, and the Politics of Touch in Contemporary Turkey’ Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Vol 12, No 2, Summer 2016, pp. 225-245.

  • J. Andrew Bush (2016) ‘How “God Becomes a Lover”: Sufi Poetry and the Finitude of Desire in Kurdistan’. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 68-87.

  • Zeynep Kurtulu┼č Korkman (2016) Politics of Intimacy in Turkey: A Distraction from “Real” Politics? Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 112-121.

  • Hasso, Frances (2010) Consuming Desires: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle East, Stanford University Press.

  • Kuntsman, Adi.  2009.  Figurations of Violence and Belonging: Queerness, Migranthood and Nationalism in Cyberspace and Beyond, Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York & Wien: Peter Lang.

  • Mourad, Sarah.  2014.  ‘The Naked Body of Alia: Gender, Citizenship, and the Egyptian Body Politic’, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Vol. 38, No. 1:  pp. 62-78.

  • Mariam Kirollos (2016) ‘“The Daughters of Egypt are a Red Line:” The Impact of Sexual Harassment on Egypt’s Legal Culture’, in Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research Vol. 2, No. 1 (Summer 2016) 

  • Alinia, Minoo (2013) Honour and Violence Against Women in Iraqi Kurdistan. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Erturk, Y. 2009. Towards a Post-Patriarchal Gender Order: Confronting the universality and the particularity of violence against women. [pdf] Sociologisk Forskning, årgång 46, nr 4. Available at:

  • Sinan Goknur (2015) ‘Queer Imaginaries: Tensions in Academic and Activist Frames’. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3, November 2015, pp. 331-336.

  • Sahar Mandour (2015) ‘From Diaspora to Nationalism via Colonialism: The Jewish “Memory” Whitened, Israelized, Pinkwashed, and De-Queered’. Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research Vol. 1, No. 1 (Summer 2015). 

  • Mourad, Sara (2013), Queering the Mother Tongue, International Journal of Communication, vol 7, pp. 2533–2546.

  • Morabet, Sofian. (2014) Queer Beirut. University of Texas Press.

  • Grant Walsh-Haines. “The Egyptian Blogosphere: Policing Gender and Sexuality and the Consequences for Queer Emancipation.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. 2012. V8. No. 3. Pp. 41-62.

  • Najmabadi, A. (2005) Women with Mustaches and Men Without Beards. Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity. University of California Press.

  • Habib, Samar (2007) Female Homosexuality in the Middle East: Histories & Representations. London & New York: Routledge.

  • Sahar Amer, “Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women” Journal of the History of Sexuality 18 (2009), pp. 215-236.

  • Ben-zvi, Yael (1998) ‘Zionist Lesbianism and Transsexual Transgression: Two Representations of Queer Israel’, Middle East Report, No. 206, Power and Sexuality in the Middle East (Spring, 1998), pp. 26-28 + 37.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules