Gender, Protest, and Revolution in the Middle East

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Centre for Gender Studies

Module overview

This interdisciplinary module approaches gender and sexual dynamics in the modern Middle East through the lens of political unrest, protest, and revolution. Through a study of critical moments in Middle Eastern history characterised by rupture, flux, and upheaval, students will explore how norms of gender and sexuality in the region emerge, develop, sediment, evolve, and get disrupted. The module emphasises the importance of examining the link between gender, sexuality and power to make sense of how normativity and non-normativity get constructed and reproduced. Furthermore, the module explores how people in the region have engaged the political conjunctures being analysed, and how these conjunctures have presented opportunities for disrupting hegemonic normative regimes. The module emphasises the link between Politics with a capital 'P' and the everyday life of gender and sexuality in the Middle East.  

This module aims to equip students with the critical skills needed to think about and discuss gender and sexuality in the Middle East in ways that avoid re-inscribing normative assumptions about the region. Importantly, this module does not provide an overview of gender and sexual dynamics and norms in the Middle East. Rather, it offers theoretical, methodological and analytical tools for making sense of gender and sexual norms/dynamics and gender and sexuality-based oppression in the region that encourage a move away from a culturally essentialist framework.  

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Gaining an overview of key debates within the study of gender and sexuality in the Middle East;
  • Acquiring a grounding in the complexity and diversity of gender and sexual dynamics and norms in the Middle East via an engagement with historical, cultural and empirical studies on the region;
  • Learning how to challenge generalisations, stereotypes and problematic assumptions about gender and sexual dynamics and norms in the Middle East;
  • Acquiring a critical understanding of a range of methodologies and theoretical frameworks employed in the study of gender in the Middle East;
  • Critically evaluating a variety of sources relevant to the topics studied on the course;
  • Articulating core themes of the course in the form of detailed written work and oral presentations.


The module will be taught over 10 weeks with one 2 hour seminar per week

Scope and syllabus

  • Unpacking the Western Gaze
  • Gender, Modernity, Islam
  • Nationalism and the Family
  • Structures of Patriarchy
  • Masculinity and Anxiety
  • The Islamic Revival and Pious Womanhood
  • Gender, Sexuality and Empire
  • Intimacy and Kinship
  • Queering Middle East Studies
  • Negotiating Queerness
  • Histories of Subversion
  • Queer Feminism(s)

Subject to yearly change.

Method of assessment

  • Assignment one (3000 words); 70%
  • Assignment two – Oral presentation; 30%

Suggested reading

  • Suggested reading
  • Yegenoglu, M. (1998). Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Abu-Lughod, L. (2013). Do Muslim Women Need Saving? Cambridge: Harvard University Press
  • Mikdashi, M. (2012). How not to study gender in the Middle East. Jadaliyya. Available at:
  • Abu-Lughod, L. (2001). Orientalism and Middle East feminist studies. Feminist Studies, 27, pp. 101-113
  • Badran, M. (1991). (2009). Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences. Oxford: Oneworld
  • Tucker, J. (2008). Women, Family, and Gender in Islamic Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Ahmed, L. (1992). Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. New Haven: Yale University Press
  • Brand, L. (1998). Women, the State and Political Liberalization: Middle Eastern and North African Experiences. New York: Columbia University Press
  • Watenpaugh, K. (2006). Being Modern in the Middle East: Revolution, Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Arab Middle Class. Princeton: Princeton University Press
  • Al-Ali, N. (2000). Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East: The Egyptian Women’s Movement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Sehlikoglu, S. (2018). Revisited: Muslim Women’s agency and feminist anthropology of the Middle East. Contemporary Islam, 12(1), pp. 73-92
  • Jouili, J. (2015). Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe. Stanford: Stanford University Press
  • Asad, T. (1993). Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Inhorn, M. (2012). The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East. Princeton: Princeton University Press
  • Baron, B. (2006). Women, honor, and the state: Evidence from Egypt. Middle Eastern Studies, 42(1), 1-20
  • Pratt, N. (2012). The gender logics of resistance to the ‘War on Terror’: Constructing sex-gender difference through the erasure of patriarchy in the Middle East. Third World Quarterly, 33(10), 1821-1836
  • El Said, M., Meari, L. & Pratt, N. (2015). Rethinking Gender in Revolutions and Resistance: Lessons from the Arab World. London: Zed Books
  • Chapman, M. (2015). Feminist dilemmas and the agency of veiled Muslim women: Analyzing identities and social representations. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 23(3), 237-250
  • Hasso, F. (2011). Consuming Desires [electronic Resource]: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle East. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Joseph, S. (Ed.). (2018). Arab Family Studies: Critical Reviews. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press.
  • Amar, P., & El Shakry, O. (2013). Introduction: Curiosities of Middle East Studies in Queer Times. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 45(2), 331-335
  • El Shakry, O. (2013). Rethinking Entrenched Binaries in Middle East Gender and Sexuality Studies. International Feminist Journal of Politics,15(1), 82-87.
  • Jarrod Hayes; De Groove Is in de Move: Decolonizing Sex and Sexuality in Middle East and North African Studies. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies , July 2018; 14 (2): 143–151.
  • Ikkaracan, Pinar. 2008. "Introduction: Sexuality as a Contested Political Domain in the Middle East." In Deconstructing Sexuality in the Middle East: Challenges and Discourses, pp. 1-16. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Ze'Evi, D. (2005). Hiding Sexuality: The Disappearance of Sexual Discourse in the Late Ottoman Middle East. Social Analysis, 49(2), 34-53
  • PEIRCE, L. (2009). Writing Histories of Sexuality in the Middle East. The American Historical Review, 114(5), 1325-1339.
  • Uhlmann, A. J. (2005). Introduction: reflections on the study of sexuality in the Middle East and North Africa. Social Analysis, 49(2), 3-15
  • Amer, S. (2012). Naming to Empower: Lesbianism in the Arab Islamicate World Today. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 16(4), 381-397
  • Massad, J. (2002). Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World. Public Culture, 14(2), 361-386
  • Sinan Goknur; Queer Imaginaries: Tensions in Academic and Activist Frames. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 1 November 2015; 11 (3): 331–336.
  • Puar, Jasbir (2013). Rethinking Homonationalism. International Journal of Middle East Studies 45: 336–339


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules