Spring 2020 CCAS Newsmagazine

Page 1

CCAS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University


Spring 2020



DIRECTOR’S NOTE Rochelle A. Davis


final newsmagazine letter as CCAS Director. What an honor it has been to lead this remarkable Center for three years. I will return to my role as an Associate Professor, with more time for research and teaching. I was awarded a Fulbright to spend next year teaching in Sudan at Ahfad University for Women, but the pandemic has postponed that. We are thrilled that Professor Joseph Sassoon will take the CCAS helm (see article on page 5) and lead us in new and exciting directions, with a knowledgeable and committed staff to support him. In the last three years, CCAS has grown in many ways. Our academic program, under the able leadership of Professor Fida Adely, has welcomed large and diverse MAAS classes whose quality and intelligence impress us all. I speak for all the faculty when I say it is an enriching pleasure to teach our students. A look at our alumni accomplishments, as featured in this magazine, reveals where this year’s graduates will be one day. Support for CCAS has been vital to our ability to do our work, and we are deeply appreciative of our outstanding Board of Advisors, led by MAAS alum Laurie Fitch, who spearheaded a MAAS Alumni reunion that hosted over 150 alums back to the hilltop. We also won a 4-year Department of Education Title VI Grant for Foreign Language Area Studies Scholarships as well as National Resource Center Funding, which brings half a million dollars each year to the university for student scholarships, language teaching, and public events and education outreach programming. CCAS’ public events and education outreach programming has expanded in exciting directions, and you can read the details in each newsmagazine and on our website. Each year we have held over 50 public events reaching more than 2000 attendees, and our education outreach programming has averaged 25 events a year for over 550 in-service and pre-service teachers. We are proud that our events have featured equal gender representation with a 50/50 gender split among our speakers—a rare accomplishment in academia and in Middle East studies expertise. As part of expanding our reach via new technologies, CCAS publishes these beautiful and informative newsmagazines, often illustrated with art from the Arab world. Please send us material, ideas, essays, and connect us with artists to feature. We’ve also adopted multiple social media platforms to showcase our work (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube). Follow us there to see our student and alumni news, keep up on our public events and teacher education programs, and read what our faculty are researching and publishing. We look forward to seeing you all again, when we can, and remember: his marks my



The CCAS Newsmagazine is published twice a year by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, a component of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Core Faculty

Rochelle A. Davis Associate Professor; Director, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Fida J. Adely Associate Professor and Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies; Director, Master of Arts in Arab Studies Program Osama W. Abi-Mershed Associate Professor Marwa Daoudy Assistant Professor Daniel Neep Assistant Professor Joseph Sassoon Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair Judith Tucker Professor

Affiliated Faculty

Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor Mohammad AlAhmad Assistant Teaching Professor Belkacem Baccouche Assistant Teaching Professor Bassam Haddad Adjunct Professor and ASJ Editor Yvonne Y. Haddad Professor, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Associate Professor Suzanne Stetkevych Sultan Qaboos bin Said Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies; Chair, Arabic & Islamic Studies Department


Dana Al Dairani Assistant Director Susan Douglass K-14 Education Outreach Coordinator

Maddie Fisher Events Coordinator Jacqueline Garner Office Manager Kelli Harris Assistant Director of Academic Programs Vicki Valosik Multimedia & Publications Editor

CCAS Newsmagazine Editor-in-Chief Vicki Valosik Design Adriana Cordero


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

An online version of this newsletter is available at: http://ccas.georgetown.edu

In This Issue Please join us remotely for our VIRTUAL Summer Teacher Institute 2020

FEATURE ARTICLES 12 The Activism of Arab Women Artists 14 Gender and Labor in Jordan ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT 7 How to Study Gender in the Middle East SPECIAL FEATURES 9 Reflections on the Study of Gender at CCAS 19 A Virtual Graduation Celebration REGULAR FEATURES 4 Faculty News

Q&A with Marwa Daoudy

5 Center News

Joseph Sassoon Named CCAS Director

16 Public Events

Moving to an Online Community A Woman’s Experience of War

17 Education Outreach

Connected Histories of the Renaissance August 3-7, 2020

The Gender Issue


18 MAAS on the Move

News from our Alums

20 Dispatches

This five-day virtual institute will explore how the global movement of people— Africans, Asians, Americans, and Europeans—and their exchanges impacted the way people viewed themselves and opened up new worlds of ideas, arts, technologies, and material culture that spurred the Renaissance. The institute includes pre-recorded lectures, live discussion and curriculum sessions, virtual exhibits and other online, collaborative activities exploring the arts, sciences, religion, philosophy, geography, history, politics and economics surrounding the Renaissance. Register at https://ccas.georgetown.edu/events

This issue of the CCAS Newsmagazine looks at the topic of gender from a variety of angles, starting with MAAS alum Maya Mikdashi’s guide to approaching the study of gender in the Middle East and pitfalls to avoid. Professor Fida Adely examines the gender dynamics of labor migration in Jordan, and Visiting Instructor Sultan Al Qassemi discusses the ways that Arab women artists have not only documented important historical events but also used their art to call for political and social change. In a special reflections section, Professor Judith Tucker looks back on the the evolution of

New Initiatives for Educators

gender studies at CCAS, while several students and alums share how the study of gender has influenced their research and careers. The backpage dispatch from alum Hannah Beswick provides a window into her work promoting gender equity through the UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC in Abu Dhabi. And as usual, you’ll find news from alums and updates from our faculty and staff on the many activities and events at CCAS.

Fighting for Gender Equality

Cover Art and Featured Books

The cover collage and inside pages of this issue feature books with strong gender themes written by CCAS faculty and alums. These 22 books represent just a portion of the scholarship produced by members of the CCAS community who have made important contributions to the study of gender in the Arab world.

We hope you enjoy the issue! Vicki Valosik, Editor

‫م ــرك ــز الـ ــدراسـ ــات ال ـعــرب ـيــة امل ـع ــاص ــرة – جامعة‬



Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

The Origins of the Syrian Conflict

Q&A with Professor Marwa Daoudy on her new book exploring climate change, human security, and the Syrian conflict

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬

What made you want to write this book?

Over the past few decades, a new narrative has emerged that seeks to link climate change with political and social unrest. More recently, this climate-conflict narrative has been applied to the Syrian case. According to this logic, climate change caused the 2006-2010 drought in Syria, THE ORIGINS OF the drought caused agricultural failure, THE SYRIAN agricultural failure caused poverty, and CONFLICT the resulting displacement and disconClimate Change and Human Security tent culminated with the 2011 uprisings. I wanted to question this narrative both conceptually and empirically as it obfuscates the responsibility of decisionmakers and denies agency to vulnerable MARWA DAOUDY migrants who suffered from drought, displacement and then conflict. I also want to show that while global warming is real and international action is urgently needed, climate change was not what was at the forefront of the minds of Syrians in 2011. Instead, most people were focused on a moral ideal: the end of repression and social injustice.

What are the major conclusions that you draw in your book?

I argue that government policies were at the heart of Syria’s vulnerabilities prior to the conflict. Political and socio-economic factors were ultimately more important than a climate-induced drought in the build-up to the uprising, a lesson that may find application in other case studies around the world on the interaction between climate change and human insecurity. 

Board Member Profile


Dr. Marwa Daoudy is Assistant Professor of International Relations at CCAS. Her book, The Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate Change and Human Security, was published by Cambridge University Press in March.

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

How did you conduct your research?

Ellen Fleischmann (MAAS, Georgetown PhD ‘96) The Nation and Its “New” Women: The Palestinian Women’s Movement, 1920-1948 University of California Press, 2003

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

My book draws on field research and my own background as a Syrian scholar to present primary interviews with officials and citizens, activists, and refugees, and the research of in-country Syrian experts to provide unique insight into Syria’s environmental, economic, and social vulnerabilities leading up to the 2011 uprisings. In doing so, I identify the ideological and policy drivers of human insecurity that impacted Syria’s water and food security. I explore how ideology shaped the policy decisions of the Syrian government under Hafez al-Assad and Bashar al-Assad and how these policies significantly contributed to the vulnerability of the rural population in the decades prior to 2011. Moreover, I design a multi-layered framework called Human Environmental Climate Security (HECS) to consider the role of economic and sociopolitical factors since the 1960s. This framework seeks to move beyond deterministic narratives that focus on population growth and resource scarcity to instead position vulnerability and sustainability at the center of environmental risk. It defines climate security as a series of threats and vulnerabilities posed not only by variation in climate conditions but also by political decisions that impact human and ecological life. Working in connection with the concept of vulnerability, resilience is a critical component of a community’s susceptibility to climate insecurity, but in Syria, resilience was relatively low due to poor governance, institutional weaknesses and a sudden shift to neo-liberal policies.

Education Outreach ‫لتثقيف التربوي‬ Anita Fabos (MAAS ‘88) “Brothers” or Others? Propriety and Gender for Muslim Arab Sudanese in Egypt Berghahn Books, 2008

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Abla Amawi (MAAS ‘86) Against All Odds: Jordanian Women, Elections and Political Empowerment Al Kutba Institute for Human Development and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 2001

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬


Faculty Research: ‫حاث هيئة التدريس‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


Center News ‫أخبار المركز‬

Professor Joseph Sassoon Named MAAS News (Student News) New CCAS Director By Paul Dougherty

engage with a new academic environment, to supporting them to develop their interests and navigate their subsequent careers, Sassoon has built close relationships with CCAS students. Through conversations with students, Sassoon knows that the Center’s reputation for academic excellence is what sets it apart from peer institutions. “It’s always interesting to hear feedback from the students on what they benefited from at the Center,” he says. “It is obvious that the academic rigor, the people whom they met during the two years that they were studying and the emphasis on the Arabic language are what make our program truly unique among all centers of Arab studies,” he adds. Continuing to provide a top-tier academic program for students is a key goal for Sassoon as he transitions to his new role. He hopes to expand opportunities for students to take on real-world regional challenges and tackle ongoing, current issues in the classroom. He cites a workshop that CCAS ran last November as an example of how effective this kind of hands-on learning can be. As protests against authoritarian regimes broke out across the Arab world, CCAS invited four regional experts to work with students to analyze the situation in four different countries and identify commonalities and differences between the demonstrations. The workshop enabled students to hone the skills they would need to work as regional

Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬ Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬


Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬

rofessor Joseph Sassoon, who will soon take on a new role as director for the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS), plans to build upon his experience in both academia and business in his new position. He will take over the position from Professor Rochelle Davis, who has served as CCAS Director since 2017.

Board Member Profile

Sassoon’s appointment comes at a historic moment for SFS, when COVID-19 restrictions have forced Georgetown to move to an entirely online learning environment. While this presents significant challenges for CCAS, and the university more widely, Sassoon is confident that he will be able to work closely with his colleagues and draw upon insights from his own career to steer CCAS through this extraordinary moment. “I might be the first virtual director of the Center in its 40 year history,” he says. “The challenges are huge, but I hope that my decade of experience being at the Center, as well as my business management experience, will combine to give me the tools I need.”

Salem Al Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World at Georgetown and is a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He is the author of numerous books, including Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime, which won the prestigious British-Kuwait Prize for the best book on the Middle East. He also spent time in the private sector, working for an investment firm where he gained experience managing large teams of people. “It’s obviously different from managing an academic center at a university,” he says. “But that experience is valuable and the lessons are still embedded—they don’t disappear.”

Decades of Experience in Academia and Beyond

Building on Academic Excellence

Sassoon brings impressive career accomplishments and expertise in various fields to his new role. A top Middle-East scholar, Sassoon currently holds the Sheikh Sabah Al

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Throughout his ten-year tenure as a CCAS professor, Sassoon has had the opportunity to see many generations of students progress through their degrees. From helping them

Beshara Doumani (MAAS ‘80) Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean: A Social History Cambridge University Press, 2017

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



practitioners and scholars after graduating, an important component of what CCAS offers students. “I’m a great believer in exposing students to the outside world, whether in business, diplomacy or government,” Sassoon says. “It’s very enriching.” Sassoon explains that having access to interesting speakers is one of the benefits of Georgetown’s location in Washington, D.C. But one silver lining of working virtually, he says, is that it creates even more opportunities to engage with thought leaders outside of D.C. and the United States. “These days, with Zoom, we can communicate with anyone,” he says. “For 45 minutes, we can really introduce the students to a lot of our interesting academics.”

Working with the CCAS Community

Sassoon’s time at CCAS has also given him the opportunity to study the various leadership styles of the directors he has worked with over the years, and he hopes to use these insights to inform his own approach. He plans to build upon a precedent, set by previous directors, that places CCAS students at the heart of leadership decisions. “I saw directors who were involved with the students and not just the management,” he explains. “And that is something I really want to continue.” Sassoon wants to maintain this sense of community, whether learning takes place online or on campus in the fall. He fondly recalls the frequent dinners and get-togethers that CCAS hosts under usual circumstances and hopes to be able to facilitate new opportunities for students, faculty and staff to come together during the pandemic. “I want the students to know that they can approach me and talk to me, whether it’s about business or their personal lives,” he says. “This is especially important given this challenging period we are going through,” he adds.

Adjusting to New Realities

While Sassoon will strive to maintain the Center’s ethos and academic strengths, his role will call for him to help CCAS adjust to the new realities of life during a pandemic. With its highly international cohort, Sassoon knows that worldwide travel restrictions, imposed in the wake of the pandemic, could have a major impact on the Center. He fears that international students may face bigger 6

visa obstacles than in previous years. He is also contemplating ways that CCAS can assist students with the financial costs of attending programs, especially at this economically uncertain time. “These are big problems, and we have to think about our students’ welfare first and foremost,” he says. As director, Sassoon hopes to be able to secure more funding to help financially struggling students and to attract talented students from all backgrounds to come to CCAS. “Even before coronavirus, it was obvious that we really needed to focus more on fundraising, to be able to accept very good students who want to come to our center,” he says. “Raising funds is definitely going to be a core issue for us over the next three years. I think we really can do a lot of very, very interesting things academically, and increase the opportunities for our students, wherever they are coming from,” he adds. In addition to this longer-term planning, Sassoon is confident that CCAS can continue to provide a meaningful and stimulating experience for its students more immediately during lockdown. “While all this is happening, it’s important to keep a focus on our academic programming,” he says. “We want to keep bringing interesting outside speakers to the Center, whether via Zoom or something else, and find ways to expose our students to a wide variety of diplomats, business people and academics from lots of different places.” Though the pandemic presents new challenges for its students, Sassoon says that CCAS has always had a strong tradition of producing stellar graduates who go on to have impactful careers. The Center’s reputation for excellence, as well as the dedication and intellectual quality of its scholars, means that the current and incoming cohort of CCAS students will have very good prospects when they graduate. “The trajectory of our students is really remarkable,” he says. “Our alumni are absolutely amazing. And I think that every alum, and even graduates from other institutions, would say that we really have built one of the best and most rigorous programs focusing on the Middle East.” 

Paul Dougherty is a recent graduate of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and was a student writer for the SFS Office of Communications.

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Hoda Yousef (MAAS ‘06) Composing Egypt: Reading, Writing, and the Emergence of a Modern Nation, 1870-1930 Stanford University Press, 2016

Sara Scalenghe (MAAS ‘00) Disability in the Ottoman Arab World, 1500-1800 Cambridge University Press, 2014

Manal Mohammad Omar (MAAS ‘01) Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity–My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos Sourcebooks, 2010

‫ﺿﻮء ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺨﺮﯾﺠﯿﻦ‬


How to Study Gender in the Middle East

Alumni spotlight


‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣس ﻛﺎﻧـوا ھـﻧﺎ‬

elcitra tneduts

‫ﻣن ﻣﻧﺷورات طﻼﺑـﻧـﺎ‬

MAAS News (Student News) ‫أﺧﺒﺎر اﻟﻄﻼب‬

By Maya Mikdashi

Visiting Scholar ‫ﺑﺎﺣث زاﺋر‬


Gender is not the study of what is evident. It is an analy-

sis of how what is evident came to be, and (crucially) came to be seen as self-evident.


Define your object of study. Before resolving to write about gender, sexuality, or any other practice or aspect of life, subjectivity or power in the Middle East, one must first define what exactly the object of study is. Be specific. What country, region, and time period form the background picture of your study? The terms “Middle East,” “Islamic world,” and “Arab world” do not refer to the same places, peoples, or histories, but the linkages between them are crucial. Moreover, the region has always been transnational, with the nation state being a relatively new phenomenon in much of Middle East. In order to study political economy and gender in Syria, for example, one must be aware of the regional history that has produced “Syria” to begin with, as well as phenomena such as a “national” economy or political economy.


A study of gender must take sexuality into account.

Likewise, studies of sexuality cannot be disarticulated from gender analysis. To do so would be akin to studying the politics and history of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) without reference to the ideologies, institutions, and socio-economic policies of

Faculty News ‫أﺧﺒﺎر ھﯿﺌﺔ اﻟﺘﺪرﯾﺲ‬

Staff Updates ‫آﺧﺮأﺧﺒﺎر‬ the Iraqi state. Gender and‫اﻟﻤﻮظﻔﯿﻦ‬ sexuality co-produce and stabilize each other. Both homosexuality and heterosexuality, for example, assume Board Member Profile ‫ﺧﺎص ﻣﻦ اﻟﻤﺠﻠﺲ اﻷﺳﺘﺸﺎري‬ and reproduce a gender binary.


Gender isPublic one aspect Events ‫ اﻟﻤﻨﺎﺳﺒﺎت اﻟﻌﺎﻣﺔ‬of individual and group subjectivity. It is also just one technology of governmentality—a


The ungendered body does not exist, just as the unclassed body does not exist. Disarticulating the body


a hijab is just a hijab, and sometimes it is not.

Cultured States: Youth, Gender, and Modern Style in 1960s Dar es Salaam Duke University Press, 2011

Hibba Abugideiri (MAAS ‘94) Gender and the Making of Modern Medicine in Colonial Egypt Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2010

Education Outreach ‫ﺗﻌﻤﯿﻢ اﻟﺘﺜﻘﯿﻒ اﻟﺘﺮﺑﻮي‬

means of producing and regulating ties between the indiIn the Headlines ‫ﻓﻲ اﻟﻌﻨﺎوﯾﻦ‬ vidual body, populations, and structures of power and quantification. Studies of politics, history, and law must take into account gender and sexuality, just as such studies must be attentive to class, race, political economy and, crucially, how all of these factors interact.

from class and gender hides that gender is not something one can be outside of. It also reaffirms the positioning of normative male political practices as somehow “unmarked” and universal. Gender is not an analytic lens that can be withheld and deployed according to the genitalia and/or sexual practices of the people being researched. When attention to gender is limited to female and/or LGBTQ people in the Middle East, it reproduces the study of gender as the study of how (other) men treat “their” women and other members of LGBTQ communities.

Andrew Michael Ivaska (MAAS ‘95)

Dispatches ‫ﺑﺮﻗﯿﺎت‬


Avoid tokenism and broad generalizations. Sometimes

Do not assume that gender politics or feminist concerns come in neat and familiar packages. Instead, al-

low your research to expand your view of what “feminist politics” may encompass. It could mean, for example, examining protests against neoliberal market restructuring in Egypt within a broad political framework that includes notions of gender justice. As Saba Mahmood and Lila Abu Lughod have taught us, liberal feminism`s assumptions as to what constitute “feminist politics” or “feminist causes” are flawed, at best. At worst, they are exercises in epistemological hegemony and the remaking of the world according to secular and neoliberal rights frameworks. Furthermore, do not assume that what we call the “feminist canon” is exhaustive or that it is not constituted through a series of exclusions, hierarchies, and imperial histories. After all, Simone de Beauvoir, who taught us that a woman is not born but made, also wrote in terms we now recognize as “Islamophobic” about women “under” Islam in Algeria at the time when Algeria was a French settler colony. This does not mean we should dismiss de Beauvoir, just as we do not condemn all works from Hegel or Marx because of their “views” on Africa. Rather, it is crucial to critically inhabit and navigate the reality that the western canon was, and is, constituted through the production of   “selves” and “others.”

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Wilson Chacko Jacob (MAAS ‘95) Working Out Egypt : Effendi Masculinity and Subject Formation in Colonial Modernity, 1870-1940 Duke University Press, 2011

hitting of women by men for not conforming to “proper” gender roles is scripted in radically different terms depending on the location and the religious context, such as in ultra-orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem versus conservative neighborhoods of Riyadh. At these moments you are not reading about Islam, you are reading within a discourse about Islam.


The Middle East has a long history of considering questions of gender rights. Struggles that we now read


Don’t assume that you know the actors and factors affecting gender in the Middle East, or the productive role your scholarship might play in this dynamic. Insti-

Occasional Papers

Research Cultures in Local and Global Contexts: The Case of Middle East Gender Studies Zeinab Abul-Magd Aurelie Evangeline Perrier

Zeinab Abul-Magd (MAAS ‘04) Aurelie Perrier (MAAS ‘05) Research Cultures in Local and Global Contexts: The Case of Middle East Gender Studies Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, 2006

Edited by Judith Tucker Based on workshop co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s National Resource Center on the Middle East and the American University in Cairo’s Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service Georgetown University ©2006

Adila Laïdi-Hanieh (MAAS ‘92) Fahrelnissa Zeid: Painter of Inner Worlds Art / Books, 2017

under the sign of  “feminism” are not new to the region despite the fact that many of the laws regarded as oppressive to women and LGBTQ Arabs and/or Muslims are relatively new. They were introduced to the region via the Napoleonic code and the codification and severe hollowing out of the sharia in modern history. For example, abortion—long considered a question of women`s rights in the Western world due its twinned history with Catholicism, and Christianity more broadly—was not illegal in many Middle Eastern historical contexts until the rise of the nation state. In Lebanon, abortion became illegal under the civil and penal laws of the French Mandate. Some traditions of fiqh continue take a position on abortion that would be refreshing to many feminists fighting against conservative Christian movements for reproductive health in the United States today. Within any given legal system there are jurists who grow, debate and shrink the struggle for women’s equality and who make or remove room for gender nonconforming persons. In fact, scholars such as Paula Sanders have shown that several centuries ago Islamic jurists were developing a system of accommodation for hermaphrodites and nonbinary gendered peoples in Islamic communities. Law continues to be an important battlefield when it comes to struggles for gender equality.


I know this is hard to believe, but Islam may not be the most important factor—or even a particularly relevant

factor—when studying gender in Muslim majority countries or communities. For example, I have studied the Lebanese legal system, focusing on personal status, criminal and civil law, for years now. Despite the intricate ways that these interconnected bodies of law produce citizenship in Lebanon, whenever I discuss my work, my interlocutors invariably want to know more about sharia and its assumed “oppression” of women. These questions always come after I have carefully explained that in Lebanon certain Christian personal status laws are much more stringent in their production and regulation of normative gender roles and sexualities than codified Islamic personal status laws (which are not the same as sharia, historically speaking). In addition, civil laws have more wide reaching “gender effects” than any religious personal status law. Islam is not the only religion in the region, although it often seems to be in mainstream media coverage. Readers should question when an action such as the 8

tutions such as the IMF and Human Rights Watch have long been engaged in the production of normative heterosexuality and heterosexual families, for example. The Israeli settlement of historical Palestine also intervenes into the gendered and sexual fabric of indigenous Palestinians, as pinkwatching activists have recently reminded us. Similarly, the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan function in part through the construction of interventionist platforms in the name of women`s and LGBTQ rights. Other factors affecting the practice of gender and sexuality in the Middle East include technological innovations such as in vitro fertilization, Viagra, and reconstructive hymen surgery, in addition to pop culture, the rapid transformation of the global economy, and the international circulation of people, discourses and goods. 

Maya Mikdashi is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and a lecturer in the program in Middle East Studies at Rutgers University. She holds a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University and graduated from the MAAS program in 2004. A version of this article was first published by Jadaliyya on March 21, 2012.

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


Alumni Article

‫مقاالت الخريجين‬

Reflections on the Study of Gender at CCAS New research

CCAS faculty, students, and alums reflect on how the study of gender has impacted their learning, research, teaching, and field work. Judith Tucker

Professor of History and former CCAS Director When I first arrived at Georgetown over 35 years ago, I had little inkling that CCAS was about to carve out a special place for itself in women’s and gender studies. I was a women’s historian, eager to integrate women’s experiences into the history of the Middle East in my classroom, but there wasn’t much to work with. Women’s history was still in its infancy when it came to the region, and there was almost nothing to draw on in terms of scholarly sources based on solid research. I assigned a few articles I found here and there in order to eke out a “women’s week” each semester, but I couldn’t imagine how to mount an entire course on women’s and gender issues. Even early on, however, the idea that gender was important was wafting around CCAS. The Center’s annual symposium in 1986 focused on Arab women and brought together scholars from the U.S. and the Arab world—virtually all women as I recall—who worked in a variety of disciplines and presented cutting edge research. And our male colleagues also came onboard: Hisham Sharabi, one of the Center’s founders, published his Neopatriarchy: A Theory of Distorted Change in Arab Society in 1988 in which he argued that patriarchal structures haunted the Arab world and blocked authentic change (see page 15 for book cover). And then, in the 1990s, CCAS began to really hit its stride. Professor Barbara Stowasser started to teach a course on women in the Qur’an, and published her pioneering book on the subject in 1994 (see page 14). I added courses on gender and empire in the Middle East, and Islamic law and gender.

‫ابحاث جديدة‬

And a number of MAAS students from the late 1980s and 1990s embraced the study of women and gender and went on to earn PhDs at Georgetown and elsewhere, and then played a central role in developing the field. I have room to mention only a few of the pioneers: Mary Ann Fay who changed our views of the harem and seclusion (page 17), Ellen Fleischmann who wrote the first English-language history of the Palestinian women’s movement (page 4), Wilson Jacob who set a new course in the study of Egyptian nationalism with his book on masculinity (page 8). Over the course of the following two decades, the addition of Professor Fida Adely (page 14) to the faculty strengthened our teaching on gender issues immeasurably, and we were able to develop a women and gender concentration. MAAS students continued to engage with the field and bring the gender lens to bear on a variety of subjects. As the field of women’s and gender studies in the Arab World has matured, MAAS graduates have led the way in integrating gender into

the study of a wide array of subjects—disability, literacy, war, law, development, and migration to mention a few. A number of these graduates are represented in the pages of this newsletter, and it is a source of great satisfaction to note that many more might have contributed if space allowed. We have come such a long way. Now I can teach a large undergraduate class on the history of women and gender in the Middle East and face no difficulty in finding splendid scholarly work to assign, much of it written by colleagues who once studied in the MAAS program.

Faculty spotlight

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬ Dr. Judith Tucker is Professor of History at CCAS, former Director of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies Program, former Editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies, and President-elect of the Middle East Studies Association. She is the author of multiple books on the history of women and gender in the Arab world. (See box below.)

Judith Tucker Professor of History at CCAS and Former CCAS Director Women in the Middle East and North Africa: Restoring Women to History Indiana University Press, 1999 In the House of the Law: Gender and Islamic Law in Ottoman Syria and Palestine California University Press, 1998 Women, Family, and Gender in Islamic Law Cambridge University Press, 2008 Women in Nineteenth Century Egypt Cambridge University Press, 1985

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Diogo Bercito

Alexandra Murray

MAAS ‘20

During my graduate studies at MAAS, I have taken three courses on topics directly related to gender: “Gender and Empire in the Middle East,” “Women and Gender in the Arab World,” and “Arab Feminism Through Literature.” I learned through these courses, for example, about how empires regulated women’s bodies to exert power in colonized territories or how particular Arab writers raised awareness of gender inequality through their work. However, regardless of the specific content of these classes, the important academic leap for me happened more in terms of learning new questions to ask in my research. This is, I believe, the result of exposure to different theoretical frameworks, which has helped me learn to see the same research object from different perspectives. For example, in my writings about Arab migration to Brazil, these classes prompted me to dig into my sources to find the answers to questions like “How did gender influence the decision to migrate?” “How did it condition the experience?” or “How did the act of migrating impact gender norms?” In a particular paper I wrote for a class, I analyzed the case of an Arab migrant in São Paulo and her writings on the role of Arab women in the diaspora. Although I knew about her story and had access to her documents, I would not have known which questions to ask until I took these courses. Without them, I would be missing a valuable opportunity to pursue more intersectional approaches in my work, taking gender into consideration along with class and race.

Diogo Bercito is a Brazilian journalist specializing in the Middle East and has covered the 2013 Egyptian coup, the 2014 Gaza war, and the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. He graduated in May from the MAAS program, where he developed a research focus on Arab migration to Latin America.

MAAS ‘20

When I applied to CCAS I knew I wanted to study women and gender. During my undergraduate program, where I studied international relations, the only exposure I had to these themes was through a class called “Gender and Terrorism.” Thankfully, it approached the topic from a critical feminist perspective, but learning about women in the MENA region only from the context of terrorism still didn’t sit well with me. I applied to the MAAS program because I wanted to learn about women and gender in the Middle East beyond the context of violence and politics. My time at CCAS has led me to a breadth of research I never would have discovered had I continued studying politics—from gender and sexuality to film and television studies. In this sense, the MAAS program has helped me winnow down my interests from the broader “women and gender” to find what I really love studying: cultural production and the various intersections of gender and orientalism within it. I am currently researching the emergence of gendered and orientalist tropes of Arabs in the early Hollywood era and the transnational flow of such tropes across different national film industries. As part of this project, I have been mapping the gendered and orientalist representations in the 1919 novel The Sheik, and its 1921 film adaptation, and how they fit in with Hollywood representations of Arabs at the time. MAAS has shaped my research in innumerable ways: introducing me to gender studies in anthropology and history, teaching me about gender from the lived experiences of men and women in different contexts within the Middle East, and paying strong attention to the theoretical background of these discussions. All of these factors have helped make me a stronger researcher in both Arab studies and media studies.

Alexandra Murray graduated in May from the MAAS program with a concentration in women and gender issues. She holds an M.A. in Arabic and International Relations from the University of St Andrews and is a recipient of the Jack G. Shaheen Exploratory Research

10 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Grant at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University for 2020.

Mahdi Zaidan MAAS ‘18

Focusing on gender and sexuality at MAAS was a fascinating way to learn how to tie seemingly “cultural” issues to larger historical and economic narratives. Problems that are often attributed to vague concepts like patriarchal culture or masculinity were studied at MAAS with rigorous reference to the particularities of the economic policies and sociohistorical structures in the region. One pertinent example of this was Dr. Fida Adely’s course on development. The course largely focused on training students to analyze development narratives and rhetoric written about the Arab world. Instead of applying simplistic explanations like the culture of masculinity or tradition to themes such as women’s economic inequality, the course showcased how employment is a complex issue that is contingent upon economic policies of austerity, expansion and decline of state sectors, as well as the peculiar nature of the oil economy in the Middle East. Explanations for social issues were thus always underpinned by a deep understanding of local context. The paper I wrote for this class was on sex work in Lebanon. In analyzing the labor market and the sociological reality of women’s employment opportunities rather than focusing on vague ideas of morality or culturalism, I was able to understand the link between larger socioeconomic issues and the seemingly micro problem of sex work. For my thesis at MAAS— “We Live in the Shadows”—I explored the themes of identity formation, socioeconomic precarity, and activism among LGBT migrants in Lebanon and Athens. My approach, again inspired by what I learned in my courses, was to historicize and complicate shallow narratives of homophobia and cultural descriptions of the region. As a result, a thesis that was originally about LGBT activism and identity ended up also exploring the history of sectarianism in the Levant, its relationship to political econ-

omy and the family, and how these phenomena could do more to explain homophobia in the region than a simple diagnosis on the premise of tradition or culture.

Mahdi Zaidan graduated from the MAAS program in 2018. He is currently pursuing a second masters in social anthropology at Cambridge University, where he is focusing on urban ecology and environmental activism. He hopes to begin a PhD program in London next year.

Wilson Chacko Jacob MAAS ‘95

I was very pleased when I received an invitation to contribute a short reflection on the role gender plays in my work as a historian and scholar. As an alumnus of MAAS, a program that one can truly be proud of, I am honored to share a few thoughts. During my years at Georgetown, two brilliant scholars taught me to think about gender in relation to the Arab World, South Asia, and the postcolonial in general: Judith Tucker and Lalitha Gopalan. Through their historical and critical approaches to gender, I learned to think with and against a category that did not solely ensue from particular identities—yet could shape those identities. The demonstration of this doubled role for gender—as an analytical concept and as an identity—became the object of my doctoral research and culminated in my first book, Working Out Egypt (see page 8). Gender conceived as irreducible to biologically given male or female bodies opens up the possibility of thinking, for example, about masculinity as a socially and historically constituted set of performances. Those entangled performances— of self-writing, dress, sports, association, embodied sovereignty—are what I pursued in my research in order to think more critically about the political and ethical limits of what I had seen as a globally unfolding colonial modernity (1870s-1930s) that compelled different groups to (re)organize themselves as self-determining national bodies. Regarding gender as performance opened up new vistas onto the formation and persistence of masculinist hierarchies of various scales: global, imperial, national, and so on. For example, I was able to

trace starkly divergent views on the burgeoning international Olympic movement—from colonial officials, royalists, nationalists, athletes and fans. On the one hand, that global stage of physical performance could be imagined as a symbolic site for the fulfilment of national aspirations (self-determination in a cultural register, so to speak) and hence held obvious political implications that imperialists and internationalists all felt needed to be regulated. On the other hand, individual athletes from Egypt did not simply imagine the stage as symbolic or political; for them, the desire to compete against the world’s top sportsmen promised personal bests and recognition as successfully embodied masculinity. Georgetown, thus, started me on a path devoted to a life of the mind, a life that questions basic assumptions about things as natural and self-evident as gender, race, and nation.

Wilson Chacko Jacob is Professor of History at Concordia University. He graduated from Georgetown’s five-year BSFS/MAAS program in 1995 and earned his PhD from New York University. Dr. Jacob is author of Working Out Egypt: Effendi Masculinity and Subject Formation in Colonial Modernity, 18701940 (Duke University Press, 2011) and For God or Empire: Sayyid Fadl and the Indian Ocean World (Stanford University Press, 2019).

Lindsey Jones-Renaud MAAS ‘06

It was 2012, and I was in Bnaslawa, a town outside of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. I was meeting with a group of community leaders involved in a development project to identify and address priority infrastructure goals, such as constructing new roads or equipping health centers with medical supplies. Although the community groups were entirely Iraqi-led, they were mobilized by the project, which was designed and managed by international and American donors and development practitioners. The purpose of my meeting was to conduct a “gender assessment”—a development industry term for a type of participatory research designed to determine the extent to

which a project has integrated principles of gender equity into its activities. In an attempt to be inclusive of women, this particular project required that at least 3 of the 12 community group leaders be women. “This [quota] is not equality,” one woman in the group told me. She added angrily that had it not been for that quota, they would have achieved 50 percent female representation on the board. As I spoke with the other women, it became evident that they understood the quota to indicate there should be a maximum, rather than a minimum, of three women. Clearly, the intended impact of the quota was lost somewhere between the American practitioners who came up with it and the Iraqi women who were supposed to be benefiting from it. This misunderstanding was a stark reminder of how a top-down, one-size-fitsall approach to gender equity and equality that is driven by outside actors doesn’t work. It often causes further harm. One of the most powerful things I learned during my time in MAAS is the importance of regularly reflecting on my own positionality and power as a white American studying—and later working in—the MENA and other regions around the world that have been directly impacted by my own country’s historical and present actions. I must continue to do that as a development practitioner focused on gender equality, a field in which most of the people deciding funding and program priorities are still, like me, largely from or based in the United States, Europe, and Canada. In my work, I try to focus on pushing for shifts in power and resources to the women and genderqueer-led movements and organizations that are working for gender equity in their own communities so that women like the ones I met in Bnaslawa can determine their own actions for advancing gender equity instead of being forced to follow our misguided ones. 

Lindsey Jones-Renaud has been working in the international development sector since she graduated from the MAAS program in 2006. She is the founder, owner, and principal consultant for Cynara Development Services, which provides facilitation, training, social impact analysis and strategic planning services for organizations working to advance gender equality and social justice.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬

seum of Modern Egyptian Art in Cairo. In the first half of the 20th century, women artists globally, and across the Arab world—like Gazbia Sirry—were often relegated to a secondary role. The School of Fine Arts that opened in Cairo in 1908, for example, accepted only male students. It was over thirty years later, in 1939, that the Higher Institute of Fine Arts for Female Teachers opened as the first arts academy for women in the region. The 1930s also saw the establishment of annual Women’s (art) Salons in Egypt, although—as scholar Patrick Kane notes in Egyptian Art Institutions and Art Education from 1908 to 1951—they have not been well studied. Additionally, male artists across the region—unlike their female counterparts—were the recipients of overtly political and nationalist commissions by Arab governments, ranging from Mahmoud Mokhtar’s Renaissance of Egypt (sometimes called Egypt’s Awakening) unveiled in Cairo in 1928, to Jewad Selim’s Monument to Liberation in Baghdad, completed after the artist’s passing in 1961. Nevertheless, women artists, although omitted from state commissions, did actively take part in documenting major political and social events through their work. Perhaps no other artists exemplified political activism thought art more than Inji Eflatoun (1924-1989), who used her paintbrush to depict historic cases of British injustice towards Egyptians, including the notorious Denshway massacre that took place following an altercation between Egyptian peasants and British soldiers. In somber black and white ink, Eflatoun depicts a scene from the massacre of a peasant being hung under the watchful eyes of British troops. She would go on to spend more than four years in jail for her political activism, producing dozens of works that captured the solitude and desperation of her fellow female inmates. At the height of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s ambitious Aswan Dam project, a number of women artists including Effat Nagi, Tahia Halim, Menhat Helmy, and Gazbia Sirry documented the round-the-clock construction, as well as the “resettlement” of tens of thousands of Nubians who were displaced by the project. Syrian women artists also depicted major social and political moments in regional history. Lebanese-born, Syrian-naturalized artist Derrieh Fakhoury (1930-2015), wife of fellow artist Mahmoud Hammad, in 1963 painted Hunger, a work that was shown in the Autumn Salon in Damascus of the same year. The work depicts a mother and child who endured harsh circumstances surrounding a severe drought that extended from 1958 to 1961. In 1958, when Egypt and Syria forged a political union, Shukri alQuwatli (1891–1967), the first president of an independent Syria handed over power to Gamal Abdel Nasser and stepped down from power, earning him the title of “First Arab Citizen.” A decade later, one year after his passing, Hala Quwatly (b. 1938), the late politician’s daughter captured her father in that solemn moment in one of her paintings. The 1967 Nakba was also the subject of several works by female Syrian artists, including Asma Fayoumy who was born in Amman in 1943. Her 1968 painting Requiem for a City depicts the architectural contours of a town with several abstracted human faces huddled below, perhaps in sadness or in apprehension of the defeat and loss of the Golan Heights. In The Nation, painted in 1978, Syrian artist Leila Nseir (b.1941) depicts a female martyr being carried by a group of mostly women sur-

Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬ Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Board Member Profile


Dispatches ‫برقيات‬ The Activism of Arab Women Artists Celebrating women artists of the Arab world whose works have documented important historical moments and rallied for social and political change. By Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi

Education Outreach ‫ف التربوي‬

n February 1946, Egyptian students and laborers marched on Abbas Bridge connecting Old Cairo and Giza to protest the policies of Prime Minister Mahmoud Fahmy Nokrashy (18881948). The police pushed back by opening the movable bridge and “leaving many of [the protesters] to fall into the Nile or get trampled in the stampede.”1 The scene of huddled students dangling from the seams was captured by Egyptian artist Gazbia Sirry (b.1925) in her 1955 painting Abbas Bridge, now in the collection of the Mu-

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ 1

Abdullah Al-Arian. “Egypt: Reduxing the past,” Aljazeera. Feb. 1, 2011.

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

12 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi


Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Opposite page: Gazbia Sirry (Egypt, b.1925) Abbas Bridge, 1955, oil on canvas, 126 x 83 cm. Collection of Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, Cairo. Image courtesy of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.

Barjeel Art Foundation

Top: Afifa Aleiby (Iraq, b.1952) War Painting (The Destruction of Iraq), 1991, oil on canvas, 70 x 50 c Bottom: Thuraya Baqsami (Kuwait, b.1952) No to the Invasion, 1990, lino-cut print, 40 x 30 cm. Both images from the Collection of and courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah

rounded by children as a representation of the killing of innocents and most likely a reflection on the Lebanese civil war that was raging nearby. Other Syrian artists such as Ikbal Karesly (1925-1969) depicted the torture of a civilian in 1959 and of a revolution in 1968, the first having never been exhibited in public due to fear of persecution. The modern history of Iraq has been riddled with seismic events, many of which have been captured by women artists. Among them is Turkish born Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991), who shortly after the July Revolution/Coup of 1958 painted La Balle (“The Bullet”) featuring a yellow ball against a black background, as though suspended in motion. That bullet, according to scholar and writer Adila Laïdi-Hanieh (an alum of the MAAS program at CCAS — see page 8), is a depiction of the bullet that killed King Faisal II, whose death profoundly affected Zeid. Others, like Neziha Salim (1927–2008) captured the repercussions of the Iraq-Iran war in her 1982 painting Martyr’s Wife, in which a woman clad in a black abaya holds a circular red object reminiscent of a heart. Later artists like Afifa Aleiby (b.1953) would capture the destruction of her home country during and after the 1991 Gulf War in a series of paintings. Her War Painting (1991) illustrates a sculpture of a Sumerian king riddled with bullets. Other parts of the Arab world also saw women artists depict political and social moments of the 20th century. Artist Safia Farhat (19242004) who, in 1966, became the first Tunisian—and also the first female—head of the Tunis Institute of Fine Arts, depicted scenes of labourers and fishermen as part of her socially-driven activism through art. Her 1952 portrait of Farhat Hached (1914–1952), founder of the General Union of Tunisian Workers and pro-independence leader for whom her husband worked, depicts Hached in a brown suit and red tie. Researcher Jessica Gerschultz writes in her recent book Decorative Arts of the Tunisian École (2019) that the portrait shows Hached in the same clothes he was wearing on the December 5, 1952—the day he was assassinated by a French extremist group. Kuwaiti artist

Thuraya Al-Baqsami’s (b.1952) lino-cut print from the year 1990, depicts a resilient Kuwaiti man and woman wearing traditional clothes, with the Arabic phrase “No to the Occupation” rendered in white across the artwork. In response to the Iraq-Iran war, which raged between 1980 and 1988 and caused countless deaths, Bahraini artist Balqees Fakhro (b.1950) created a painting titled Face to Face (1986) as an artistic call for peace at an especially brutal moment during the eight-year conflict. It depicts a Sumerian king, who represents Iraq, and a Persian Achaemenid emperor, who represents Iran, sitting on the banks of the Shatt al-Arab River and extending their hands in friendship. Palestinian artist Tamam Al-Akhal (b.1935), who was married to fellow artist Ismail Shammout, illustrated the Palestinian struggle in countless works. Khan Younis Massacre (1963) depicts the events of the 3rd of November 1956, when the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah were raided, leaving over 200 Palestinian men dead. Beirut-born, Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum (b.1952) largely worked on conceptual art, exploring themes such as violence and destruction. However, a number of her works relate to the region’s turbulent political history. Her bronze sculpture Infinity (1991-2001) depicts toy soldiers in an endless circle of violence to reflect the disposability of men to governments. In her 2009 sculpture Witness, Hatoum reproduces in porcelain a monument located in Beirut’s Martyr’s Square. Her reproduction keeps intact the wartime damage to the original statue—including bullet holes and a missing limb from one of the figures—rather than recreating a flawless, sanitized version of the monument. As illustrated above, Arab women artists were—like their male counterparts—active throughout the 20th century, boldly depicting social and political moments in the histories of their countries. They have been integral participants and, in fact, often leaders in social and political activism, engaging in efforts to advance movements for independence and self-determination, to amend labor laws, and secure increased protection for the rights of women and children. While much of their work in and before the 1930s has gone unnoticed and undocumented, today these pioneering women artists are slowly but surely being more recognized for their immense contributions to the region’s artistic landscape. It is important for practitioners in the fields of art history, curation and museology to continue being ever more critical and mindful of their selection strategies and representation practices to ensure that the voices of trailblazing artists previously omitted from historical record are acknowledged and documented. 

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is an Emirati columnist and researcher on social, political, and cultural affairs in the Arab Gulf States. He is founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation, a prominent and publicly accessible art collection in the United Arab Emirates established in 2010 to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region. Mr. Al Qassemi was a visiting adjunct instructor at CCAS during the fall semester.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Gender and Labor in Jordan Professor Fida Adely discusses her research and in-progress manuscript Using My Education: Female Labor Migration in Jordan and Shifting Gender Dynamics. By Fida J. Adely


n the spring of 2011, I met several women living in student dormitories in Jordan. However, these women were not students; rather, they were single, university-educated women who had migrated from the provinces to the capital city of Amman for work. I met women such as Arwa, who first came from a small town in the south to pursue her master’s degree and was now working for an international NGO and helping to support her elderly parents. Then there was Yasmin, who came to take a position as an engineer-in-training in the hopes that this would lead to regular employment. Her father paid her dormitory fees, as the stipend she received barely covered transportation and food. Tharwa, also an engineer, had been working in Amman for eight years when we met. Despite some initial struggles with her family and her employer, Tharwa was now thriving in her career and was thinking about starting her own business. The stories of female professional migration I heard were many and diverse.

Fida Adely Associate Professor of Anthropology at CCAS Gendered Paradoxes: Educating Jordanian Women in Nation, Faith, and Progress University of Chicago Press, 2012

The numbers of women I encountered and the distances from which they came surprised me. While it was not unheard of for women to move to Amman for work in the early 1990s—when I had previously lived in Amman—it was rare. Furthermore, most internal labor migration in earlier decades consisted of educated women from urban areas going to rural areas to teach in Jordan’s growing educational sector. What had changed to allow these women greater mobility? Why were

Barbara Freyer Stowasser Former CCAS Director and Professor Women in the Qur’an, Traditions, and Interpretation Oxford University Press, 1997

14 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

families willing to allow young women to go off to the capital to pursue careers even when their salaries barely covered living expenses, if at all? What hopes and aspirations do these young women bring with them to Amman? What challenges do they face in the city? Where do they hope to go from there? My manuscript Using My Education: Female Labor Migration in Jordan and Shifting Gender Dynamics takes the narrative of women who migrate to Amman for labor as its starting point. It draws on their stories to illuminate how dramatic demographic and socio-economic shifts within Jordan have shaped particular lives, and how a group of young educated women have worked to take advantage of these shifts. Building on 12 years of ethnographic research in Jordan and extensive interviews with tens of women, as well as family members, the book analyzes the effects of developments such as expanded educational opportunities, urbanization, privatization and the restructuring of the labor market on women’s life trajectories, gender roles, the institution of marriage, and kinship relations. Their experiences are an important contribution to a broader literature on rural-urban female labor migration, which has tended to focus on women migrating for work in factories or as domestic laborers. The women who are at the center of Using My Education are university educated, overwhelmingly employed in the private sector, and migrate from “under-developed” regions of Jordan to the capital to pursue professional employment. This increase in female mobility, with the support and sometimes encouragement of families, reflects a significant shift in gendered expectations in Jordan as typically women rarely live apart from their families before marrying. My research shows that the motivation for this migration is not always or entirely economic, but also stems from family and personal aspirations, recent

Hisham Sharabi Former Professor at CCAS Neopatriarchy: A Theory of Distorted Change in Arab Society Oxford University Press, 1992

family and personal histories, and perceived marriage opportunities. Drawing on the experiences of these young women, as well as extensive analysis of broader socio-economic and demographic shifts, Using My Education puts forth three key arguments. First, the trajectories of these women point to the ways in which educational structures can act as both facilitators and obstacles to labor force entry, and shape individual calculations about desirable forms of labor. A rigid tracking system in the Jordanian public-school system acts to predetermine educational and career pathways for young people early in their educational lives. For the young women in my sample, who have been largely successful as students, these structures have created opportunities for women in fields such as engineering and computer science, fields that continue to face significant gender imbalances in the West. In addition to tracking, entry into these fields is facilitated by cultural norms that do not mark the study of math and science as gendered fields more suitable to men, as has been the case in the United States for example. Nearly three quarters of the women interviewed work in engineering, medicine or IT-related fields. While educational structures and cultural norms produce opportunities for women, especially in STEM fields, growing educational inequalities may limit these opportunities in years to come, as disparities in educational quality are most stark along geographic and class lines in Jordan, as they are elsewhere.

Frances S. Hasso (MAAS ‘90) Resistance, Repression, and Gender Politics in Occupied Palestine and Jordan Syracuse University Press, 2005 Consuming Desires: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle East Stanford University Press, 2011

Second, the migration of these women points to the broader issue of geographic disparities in economic development in Jordan and its gendered manifestations. In the communities from which the young women migrate, university-educated men and women have fewer employment opportunities and thus must commute or migrate to the capital for work. The jobs that are available are public sector ones, which have traditionally been favored by women and their families. However, the women profiled here are working in the private sector, reflecting a broader trend among single, university-educated youth in Jordan. Provincial neglect plays out in complicated ways in the experiences of these women, affecting both how they are perceived and treated in Amman, and how they themselves come to view their own home communities. Finally, and most importantly in terms of this book’s contributions, the ethnographic research will highlight the limits of the dominant analytics used to measure the significance of education and work for women and for the transformation of gender relations. Although economic imperatives provide a partial explanation for the labor migration of these women, they do not fully account for the motivations or the effects of this trend. Concerns about a marriage crisis, as well as the status that certain forms of education and professions accrue to women and their relatives are all part of the equation. Using My Education also reveals the significance

of personal narratives of neoliberal forms of progress, as well as the drive and ambition of women who desire, and view themselves as deserving of, “something more.” For women who stay in Amman for longer periods, and face the prospects of remaining single, what that something more is becomes less clear and the benefits of migration less certain. The women profiled in this book work to fashion their own visions of what a successful trajectory can look like given the contexts they find themselves in, a context that has been shaped by the powerful forces of education and development, neoliberalism and gender. But in their own lives, they too are powerful—forging new ways of being a woman in Jordan and reminding us that there are always many ways of doing gender (Ortner 1996). In this sense, this book and the narratives of these young women provide critical insights into the practice of gender in ways that are at times overlooked in more policy-oriented research on women and labor in the Arab world. 

Dr. Fida Adely is Associate Professor of Anthropology, the Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies, and Director of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program at CCAS. She is author of Gendered Paradoxes: Educating Jordanian Women in Nation, Faith, and Progress (See page 14). Dr. Adely is currently finalizing the manuscript discussed above for publication.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Moving Our Events and Community Online By Maddie Fisher


about unprecedented circumstances that have drastically altered the way that CCAS operates as a center. Following spring break, CCAS and the rest of Georgetown quickly shifted to a virtual learning environment, moving classes, work, and—where possible—our events online. Before this transition, we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to hold a few of our early semester events in person, including a February screening of the Academy Awardnominated documentary For Sama with more than 100 guests in attendance (Read more in the box below). Also in February, CCAS organized our annual American Druze Foundation (ADF) Lecture, highlighting contemporary topics in research about the Druze diaspora. The 2019-2020 ADF Fellow at CCAS, Dr. Graham Pitts, presented alongside Dr. Stacey Fahrenthold and Dr. Matthew Jaber Stiffler on “Migration and his semester brought

Angeles graciously hosted this year’s event, enabling the rich scholarship produced through our partnership with ADF to reach an even larger audience. Following the university’s move to virtual operations, CCAS hosted online the final three sessions of the brown bag series “Disability in the Arab World.” Organized by second-year MAAS student, Jinsuel Jun and 2016 MAAS alum, Tim Loh, the series was implemented in partnership with Georgetown’s Disability Studies Program, Global Health Initiative, and Center for Child and Human Development. The brown bag topics this spring were “Disabilities Studies and the Qur’an” with Hala Atallah, “The Deaf Community in Turkey” with Dr. Kadir Gökgöz, and “Down Syndrome, Disability and Difference in Jordan” with Dr. Christine Sargent. In March, Executive Director of Gulf International Forum (GULIF), Dr. Dania Thafer, rapidly adapted her CCAS Visiting Scholar talk, “Obstacles to Innovation in Rentier Economies,” to be online just days after defending her PhD thesis. Her talk addressed how state-business relations affect the economic reforms needed to foster innovation. Our colleagues at GULIF worked with us to adapt our co-sponsored “Aspirations of Youth in the GCC” panel to instead be a video series. In addition to these online public events, the CCAS community has used the video conferencing tool Zoom to virtually gather in a variety of unique ways. MAAS Academic Director Fida Adely and Assistant Academic Director Kelli Harris held several online town halls with students to collect feedback and address questions and concerns during the transition to online learning. In addition, Ms. Harris has hosted a weekly virtual coffee hour, providing a valuable space for informal chats and check-ins with students. CCAS also held a MAAS Open Mic Night where students sang, played musical instruments, shared videos, and introduced their pets. We are proud of the innovative ways our community has created spaces of togetherness despite the quarantine, and we look forward to gathering in person again soon. You can stay up to date with what we are doing online by following us on social media or signing up for our email list on the CCAS website. 

Education Outreach ‫قيف التربوي‬ In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Left to Right: Ms. Maddie Fisher, CCAS Events Coordinator; Dr. Graham Auman Pitts, ADF Fellow at CCAS; Mr. Fadi Zuhayri, Former Chairman of the American Druze Foundation; Dr. Stacey Fahrenthold, Assistant Professor, UC Davis; Dr. Matthew Jaber Stiffler, Research and Content Manager at the Arab American Museum

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

the Druze in America.” Recognizing that it is not possible for many of the Druze community members on the West Coast to make it to Washington D.C. for the lecture, the American Druze Foundation’s center in Los

Faculty Research: ‫ث هيئة التدريس‬

A Woman’s Experience of War

In February, CCAS worked with FRONTLINE to screen the Academy Award-nominated documentary For Sama. Waad Al-Kateab co-directed and narrated the film, which provides a first-hand account of her daily life as an activist and filmmaker living in Aleppo during the conflict in Syria. The film, which spans a five-year period, provides a powerful perspective on how women and children experience war. Viewers follow Waad as she gets married and raises her newborn daughter Sama in a city under siege. Much of the film takes place in hospitals where Waad’s husband Hamza fights to keep people alive. Waad provides an intimate view into not only her own lived experience as a woman and a mother impacted by war but also the experiences of other women and their children whom she encounters at the hospital. Syrian activist and friend of the film, Sana Mustafa, joined CCAS at the screening for a discussion following the film. She also spoke with students in Professor Rochelle Davis’ class “Refugees in the Arab World” about how the film relates to their coursework.

Maddie Fisher is the CCAS Events Coordinator. 16 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬


New Initiatives for Educators By Vicki Valosik


In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Education Outreach program at CCAS offers workshops, training, and curriculum support to help K-14 teachers develop their knowledge about the Middle East and North Africa—and its diverse cultures, histories, and religions—from a global perspective. This year, CCAS Education Outreach Coordinator Dr. Susan Douglass and the Education Outreach program have undertaken several exciting new projects. In January, CCAS produced—with support from Georgetown’s Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU)—a new teaching unit titled Islam and Politics: A Curriculum Resource for high school teachers of world history, geography, and social studies. The unit presents critical moments and influential religious leaders from the 1700s to the 2000s. The impetus for creating this unit came in 2018 when Maryland education officials added new curricular requirements for teaching about Islam and politics at the 9th and 10th grade levels. According to state academic standards for secondary world history and geography, at least 30 states and the District of Columbia have requirements to teach on these topics. Despite this requirement, “few teachers are aware of or have access to sources about the long history of debate around ideas of reform and the role of religion in Muslim societies,” said Douglass. Given that textbooks change very slowly, CCAS prioritized creating a curriculum unit for teachers that would provide historical background and case studies on the variety of expressions of Islam and politics today, and help educators fulfill their state curriculum mandates. Another exciting development for the CCAS Education Outreach program this winter was the release of an updated interactive website on Islamic Spain. Built by Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) in partnership with CCAS, the new website serves as a companion to the UPF film Cities of Light: the Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain and provides a detailed survey of the 700-year period of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula and its significance to world history. Dr. Douglass served as a lead content developer for the original site, ensuring that it met teacher needs and state academic standards for world history. Eosin Chelius, a sophomore at Georgetown and a 2019-2020 BSFS Scholar at CCAS, updated the content and source materials and ensured the new site’s accessibility. The website covers scientific and agricultural technologies, interfaith coexistence, arts, architecture, and literature, and features timelines, glossaries and maps. “The topic of Islamic Spain is important to teachers because it represents an exceptional place and time that defies the artificial division between East and West—when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived and interacted socially, religiously and intellectually under Muslim rule,” said Douglass. “This period of cultural exchange resulted in the transfer of scientific, artistic and technological advancements to he

Europe and Afroeurasia.” Having provided quality programming for educators in the greater Washington D.C. area for several decades, the Education Outreach program has recently taken steps to expand its audience beyond the region. Thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Education, CCAS offered travel grants to bring out-of-state teachers to the 2018 and 2019 summer teacher institutes. In addition to hosting teachers on campus and at local partner organizations such as the Smithsonian, Freer|Sackler, and Howard University, CCAS has taken its content to institutions across the country. Dr. Douglass has worked with states, counties, and public school systems on curriculum issues and traveled to more than a dozen states to lead workshops and build partnerships, particularly with underserved and minority-serving institutions. In response to COVID-19, the Education Outreach program has moved its spring and summer workshops online and anticipates hosting its largest-ever number of participants at the virtual Summer Teacher Institute 2020: “Connected Histories of the Renaissance.” The institute will be held August 3-7 and will feature pre-recorded lectures, live discussions, virtual exhibits, and collaborative content and pedagogy activities. See page 3 for details and registration. Much of the work of the Education Outreach program is funded by a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant designating CCAS and its partners as a National Resource Center on the Middle East and North Africa (NRC-MENA). You can learn about our programming for educators, access teaching materials, register for workshops, or watch videos from past events on the newly redesigned Education Outreach section of the CCAS website. 

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Vicki Valosik is the Multimedia & Publications Editor at CCAS.

Mary Ann Fay (MAAS, Georgetown PhD ‘93) Unveiling the Harem: Elite Women and the Paradox of Seclusion in Eighteenth-Century Cairo Syracuse University Press, 2012

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Alumni News

‫أخبار الخريجين‬

➠ Alumni Article ‫مقاالت الخريجين‬ MAAS ON THE MOVE News from our Alums

MAAS alums, we want to hear from YOU! Send your news items to ccasalum@georgetown.edu or through the form at https://ccas.georgetown.edu/resources/alumni/


Albert Aghazarian, MAAS ‘79

New research

The CCAS community was deeply saddened to learn of the January passing of Albert Aghazarian, a renowned scholar and activist, and the first graduate of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program at CCAS. Mr. Aghazarian was born in 1950 in the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem. He earned his BA in political science at the American University of Beirut before coming to Georgetown in the late 1970s and enrolling in the newly established MAAS program. After completing his coursework early and becoming the program’s first graduate in 1979, Mr. Aghazarian returned to Palestine to teach history and cultural studies at Birzeit University. In 1980, he became director of the university’s public relations office—a position he held for more than 20 years and leveraged to defend and advance Palestinians’ rights to quality education and academic freedom. Mr. Aghazarian, together with Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, led the Palestinian delegation’s media efforts at the 1991 Madrid Conference. Dr. Michael Hudson, professor emeritus and former director of CCAS, knew Mr. Aghazarian as a student at Georgetown. “I was so sorry to learn of the passing of Albert Aghazarian,” said Dr. Hudson. “What a talented, erudite, principled, and charming man he was. He was proud to be the very first graduate of the MAAS program—and certainly became one of its most distinguished.” Mr. Aghazarian was also a well-known historian of Jerusalem, and often led educational and historical tours through the old city. “Jerusalem was his love and his passion, and he became well-known for his historical and archaeological tours of the city, in which he revealed encyclopedic knowledge,” added Dr. Hudson. “He was indeed the shaykh, the ustaz, of the Holy City. He touched the lives of so many people. May he rest in peace.” The CCAS community extends our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Aghazarian. 

‫ابحاث جديدة‬

Andrew Farrand, Arab Studies Certificate ‘06 Paul Wulfsberg, MAAS ‘07

Andrew, who earned his BSFS at Georgetown and his Certificate in Arab Studies from CCAS, is the host of Algeria’s first entrepreneurship reality TV show, “I Have a Dream” (‫)عندي حلم‬, which premiered in February. MAAS alum Paul Wulfsberg is the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Algiers, which produced the show, and was heavily involved in the show’s production and promotion.

Faculty spotlight

Sheena Mak, MAAS ‘07

Sheena has worked for the Federal government for over a decade and is currently an immigration officer with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Elizabeth Nugent, MAAS ‘10

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

Elizabeth’s first book, After Repression: How Polarization Derails Democratic Transition, will be published in September by Princeton University Press. Her book provides new insights into how differing forms of repression shape the outcomes of democratic transitions. Anny Gaul, MAAS ‘12

Anny will be starting a position as an assistant professor in Arabic Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park this fall. Candace Gibson, MAAS ‘13

Candace recently started a new position as the MENA Program Officer at Internews Network, a non-profit with a mission to empower local media worldwide. Kristina Bogos, MAAS ‘17

Kristina works at Heartland Alliance International in Iraq, where she conducts research and provides support for several human rights and humanitarian programs in partnership with local NGOs and UN agencies. Nick Brumfield, MAAS ‘17

Nick​was recently interviewed by NPR for his work as a founder of “Expatalachians,” a journalism project that explores his native Appalachia from an international—and often Middle East-focused—lens. Shannon Hayes, MAAS ‘19

Shannon recently started a position as Program Associate at Education for Employment, where she writes grant proposals and provides programmatic support for projects in Morocco, Jordan, and Palestine.

18 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Mabrouk to the MAAS Class of 2020!

Mabrouk! ! ‫مبروك‬ Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, we were not able to gather in person for our MAAS graduation this spring. However, that did not keep us from celebrating or marking this important milestone for our students. On May 15, CCAS hosted a virtual commencement ceremony via Zoom that featured guest speakers, live music, student videos, and a class photo. The event was livestreamed on YouTube so that family and friends could join us in real time. Congratulations to all our 2020 graduates:

Sima Aldardari Mohammed Alhammami David Balgley Diogo Bercito Eliza Campbell Marcus Chenevix-Trench Chirin Dirani

Stuart Foster Aaron Fowler Ruba Hafayda Lennon Jones Jinseul Jun Rashid Karriti Melissa Levinson

Grace Makhoul Grant Marthinsen Alexandra Murray Gregory Noth Sami Rafidi Jr. Sydney Roeder Tajae Turner

Emma Tveit Saul Ulloa Robert Uniacke Jacob Uzman Caroline Zullo

Faculty Research: Above: A group picture of the MAAS graduating class from the virtual commencement Right: Speakers at the graduation ceremony included, from top, MAAS Academic Director Fida Adely, SFS Dean Joel Hellman, and CCAS Board of Advisors Chair and MAAS alum Laurie Fitch.

As part of the virtual MAAS commencement, graduating students shared their musical talents and video messages to their classmates and professors about what the MAAS program meant to them. Clockwise from top: Diogo Bercito on piano, Emma Tveit on violin, Sima Aldardari singing and playing guitar, and video messages from David Balgley and Grace Makhoul.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


DISPATCHES Notes From Abroad

Fighting for Gender Equality

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Public Events ‫ت العامة‬

A week with MAAS alum Hannah Beswick, Head of Partnerships at the UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC in Abu Dhabi By Hannah Beswick


ers, to drafting peace accords after conflict, to participating in transitional justice processes. We explain that all of our research and data demonstrates that when women meaningfully participate and lead in peace and security processes, our societies become more stable, tolerant, and prosperous. When women are excluded, the conversation at the peace table tends to focus on ceasefires and power-sharing arrangements. But when women join, the discussion turns to issues of fixing infrastructure, getting the hospitals and schools back up and running, addressing transitional justice concerns—the things that make society function. We must remember, peace is not just the absence of violence. The trainees share their Top: Hannah speaks at the 2020 Provoke Mena Summit in perspectives, and it is strikDubai alongside corporate partners committed to gender ing to see the progress they equality. Bottom: Hannah attends the the Abu Dhabi graduhave made in a matter of just ation of the first round of the Women, Peace and Security a few weeks. Many who were Training Programme, in the presence of senior leaders of UN Women and the UAE Government. initially shy and soft spoken are now speaking confidently in my red dress, hoping that my symbolic and at ease while engaging with their fellow clothing choice for the day was noticed: red trainees from different countries and cultural is the color of Sustainable Development backgrounds. I imagine how this experience Goal 5, which seeks to achieve gender equal- will impact them when they return home ity and empower all women and girls. at the end of the three and a half months of On Thursday, I park my little white hatch- training. My hope is that it broadens the posback in a dirt lot and find my way to the sibilities of what they can imagine for their Khawla bint Al Azwar Military Academy for futures. Women, the first military school for women My day ends, and I hop back in my car, in the region, founded some thirty-odd years thinking how glad I am that I paid the extra ago. My organization, the UN Women Li- money to tint the windows as I turn the A/C on aison Office for the GCC, is working with full blast, ready for the next day’s adventure.  the UAE Government to host a military and peacekeeping training program for women across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Hannah Beswick graduated from the MAAS We are there to talk to the trainees about program in 2014. She serves as the Head of why it is critical that women engage in all Partnerships at the UN Women Liaison Ofaspects of conflict prevention, mitigation, fice for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in and resolution, from serving as peacekeep- Abu Dhabi.

20 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Education Outreach

In the Headlines ‫اوين‬ Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫يس‬

Hannah Beswick

n Wednesday morning, I find myself on the road from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, the immaculately paved Sheikh Zayed road, palm and ghaf trees dotting the median mile after mile, the desert surrounding me. One hour later I enter the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial archipelago extending into the Arabian Gulf sculpted to look, from the sky, like a palm tree. As I drive up the trunk of the Palm, I chuckle to myself as I see exits for “Frond A through F,” the developers having chosen to use the term “frond” in place of “street.” I make my way to the end of the Palm and pull up to a swanky hotel. I’m in my element, speaking to a group of about 200 people from media and public relations firms about how the private sector can turn their brand value into action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s shared plan to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet by 2030. I’m there to impress upon these companies why they need to ensure gender parity across the board, from junior to senior roles. I share the latest statistics from the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report: that at the rate we’re going, the world won’t see economic parity between men and women for 257 years. I tell the audience why it matters: that gender parity is directly tied to whether or not economies and societies thrive. An audience member raises her hand to tell me about a global bank that has just committed to only doing business with companies who have at least one female member on their board. She wants to know what I think of this. “Well,” I tell her, “remember what I said about us not achieving economic parity for 257 years? Small symbolic gestures like this aren’t really going to move the needle. Companies need to take bigger steps.” A few audience members seem surprised that I choose to share my honest opinion about a company’s efforts to promote gender equality. I shift in my chair and give a wry smile