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Study information

Gender-Identity and Modernity in the Middle East

Module titleGender-Identity and Modernity in the Middle East
Module codeARA2118
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Farangis Ghaderi (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module you will explore interrelationships between gender, identity and modernity in the contemporary Middle East. You will learn to critically analyse the various debates, tensions and transformations that are linked to changing gender relations in the region. These debates are often framed within the parameters of modernisation, nationalism, feminism and Islamism. A critique of modernity in the context of the Middle East involves a close examination of the traditional vs. modern and authentic vs. western dichotomies, which are not only prevalent in academic writings, but also constitute forceful oppositions in the cultural, historical and political discourses within the region.

The course consists of lectures, class discussions/seminars and student presentations.  No prior knowledge of the subject is required. The module is suitable for interdisciplinary pathways.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide you with an in-depth survey of the social, political, economic and cultural issues that affect gender relations in the contemporary Middle East and North Africa. We will investigate how gender is socially constructed and experienced, while at the same time exploring how states and regimes invoke gender on the level of politics. Weekly lectures and discussions will enable you to analyse how gender, identity and modernity shape – and are shaped by – diverse Middle Eastern and North African contexts. The course promotes politically active learning, primarily through engagement with current events and project-based assessment.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. identify and assess the changing social, cultural, economic and political contexts that shape gender roles and relations.
  • 2. evaluate different theoretical and methodological approaches employed in the study of gender in the Middle East

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. analyse and assess academic texts and prevailing cultural notions critically
  • 4. distinguish between a range of methodological approaches as well as variety of genres, i.e. anthropological and sociological texts, (auto)biographical writings and fiction
  • 5. demonstrate an awareness and be sensitised to the various processes by which gender, i.e. femaleness and maleness, are socially and culturally constructed

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. engage in independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion
  • 7. digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 8. examine and review existing literature.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

Studying Gender in the Middle East & North Africa

Representations: The Legacy of Orientalism & Colonialism

Islam, Patriarchy &‘Tradition’

Gendered Nationalisms & Nation-building Projects

The 'Woman Question' & the State: Citizenship, Modernization & Reform

Intimate Politics: Social Relations & Identity Constructions

Exploring Middle East Masculinities

Gender, Sexuality & Power: From ‘Honour Crimes’ to Queer Politics

War & Conflict: Gendering Violence & Peace in the Middle East

Refugees, Migration & Diaspora

Women’s Movements in the Middle East: Historical Roots & Contemporary Routes

Secular & Religious Feminisms: Different Strategies, Common Aims?

Gendering New Media & the Public Sphere in the Middle East

‘The Uprisings will be Gendered’: Political Protest, Transition & Transformation

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity 2211 x 1 hour lectures; 11 x 1 hour tutorials
Guided Independent study44Weekly reading (4 hours per week)
Guided Independent study11Class/seminar prep (1 hour per week)
Guided Independent study43Project (23 hours researching/coordinating, 20 hours writing/preparing presentation)
Guided Independent study30Position paper (17 hours reading, 13 hours writing)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Project proposal500 words1-8Written feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Position/reflection paper401,500 words1-8Written feedback Verbal feedback (if required)
Summative project (group or individual)60Written submission of 1750 words OR 15 minute presentation. Submissions will vary in format [e.g., film or exhibition review, op-ed article, short film, podcast, performance, video or photo essay, poetry, play script, sculpture or other material artefact, Instagram page, blog, etc.]. This list is not exhaustive. 1-8Written feedback Verbal feedback (if required)

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Position/reflection paperPosition/reflection paper (1500 words)1-8August/September re-assessment period
ProjectWritten submission of 1750 words OR 15-minute pre-recorded presentation. 1-8August/September re-assessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Abdo, Nahla, Women in Israel: Race, Gender and Citizenship, 2011.

Abu-Lughod, Lila (ed.), Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East, 1998. 

Ahmed, Leila, Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate, 1992.

Al-Ali, Nadje, Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present, 2007.

Al-Ali, Nadje & Nicola Pratt, Women & War in the Middle East, 2009.

Charrad, Mounira, Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East. Syracuse University Press, 2000.

Joseph, Suad (ed.) Intimate Selving in Arab Families: Gender, Self and Identity, 1999.

Kanaaneh, Rhoda, Birthing the Nation: Strategies of Palestinian Women in Israel, 2002.

Kandiyoti, Deniz (ed.), Women, Islam and the State, 1991.

Kandiyoti, Deniz (ed.) Gendering the Middle East: Emerging Perspectives, 1996.

Khalil, Andrea (ed.), Gender, Women and the Arab Spring, 2014.

Lewis, Reina, Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem, 2004.

Ouzgane, Lahoucine (ed.) Islamic Masculinities, 2006.

Singerman, Diane, Avenues of Participation: Family Politics, and Networks in Urban Quarters of Cairo, 1997.

Ye����¯�¿�½���¯���¿���½eno����¯�¿�½���¯���¿���½lu, Meyda, Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism, 1998.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Material will be posted on the Online Learning System and discussion lists will be created. 

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Videos/films, TV programmes, online materials (news sites, websites/blogs, social media), images, music, memoirs.

Key words search

Gender, Identity, Sexuality, Modernity, Middle East

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date