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Study information

Gender and Politics in the Middle East

Module titleGender and Politics in the Middle East
Module codeARAM225
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Sabiha Allouche ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This course explores the relationship between gender and politics in the modern Middle East and North Africa, providing an in-depth survey of key dynamics and debates that shape the region and its communities. Starting with the question of methodology and approach, you will interrogate discourses that ‘exceptionalise’ the MENA or ‘culturalise’ issues relating to gender therein. We will address how gender is constructed, experienced and performed, as well as how gender is significant to nation- and state-building, conflict and violence, and resistance and transformation. While the course is directly informed by feminist politics and praxis, it moves beyond a narrow focus on ‘women’ to include men and masculinities, as well as sexuality and queer politics. Through engaging with power, we will explore how gender shapes politics – and politics shapes gender – at the levels of subject, society and state across diverse Middle Eastern and North African contexts.

The course consists of weekly seminars, which foreground dialogue and encourage active learning. Students take a central role in telling the ‘story’ of our module by collectively structuring the core topics at the beginning of term. No prior knowledge of the subject is required.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to enable you to analyse ‘the politics of gender’ across diverse contexts in the Middle East and North Africa. You will learn to analyse the relationship between gender and politics on multiple levels, from individual subjects, to communities and societies, to states and governance, to transnational trends and processes; the course will additionally equip you to identify how these levels are necessarily connected. The course aims to promote politically active learning through engagement with topical events and project-based assessment

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Discern the various ways in which gender roles, relations and norms are constructed, reproduced and challenged in the Middle East.
  • 2. Identify and critically assess the changing social, political, cultural and economic contexts that shape gender in the Middle East.
  • 3. Evaluate critically different theoretical and methodological approaches employed in the study of gender and sexuality in the Middle East.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Analyse and assess academic texts and prevailing cultural notions critically.
  • 5. Distinguish between a range of methodological approaches as well as variety of genres, i.e. anthropological and sociological texts, (auto)biographical writings and fiction.
  • 6. Demonstrate an awareness of, and be sensitised to, the various processes by which gender (i.e. femaleness and maleness) is socially and culturally constructed in different contexts.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

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

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 themes:

·         On knowledge ‘production’

·         Gender & sexuality 101

·         Activism & transformation

·         Otherness & belonging

·         Violence

·         Politics

·         Nations, states & intervention/s

·         Representation

·         Agency

·         Intimacy

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 Activity2211 x 2 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study77Weekly reading (7 hours per week)
Guided Independent Study22Class participation (2 hours preparation per week)
Guided Independent Study30Blog posts (2 hours researching & 4 hours writing per week, 5 submitted in total)
Guided Independent Study59Project (40 hours researching/coordinating, 19 hours writing/preparing presentation and materials).
Guided Independent Study90Essay (60 hours reading and 30 hours writing)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Project proposal700 words1-6, 8Written & verbal 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
Weekly blog posts503 x 1000 words1-8Written feedback
Summative project (group or individual)50Written submission of 3000 words OR 25 minute in-class presentation. Submissions will vary in format [e.g., film or exhibition review, op-ed article, short film, podcast, performance, video or photo essay, poetry, sculpture or other material artefact, play script, Instagram page, blog, etc.]. This list is not exhaustive. Submission format and pathway will be agreed individually with the convenor after review of proposals (mid-term).1-9Written 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
Blog postsBrief weekly 'reaction papers' written as blog posts (3 x 1000 words)1-8August/September reassessment period
ProjectWritten submission of 3000 words OR 25 minute pre-recorded presentation1-8August/September reassessment period

Re-assessment notes

Where you have been referred/deferred for the project presentation, you will complete a short essay (2,000 words) that reflects on the process and outcomes of your project. 

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Lila Abu-Lughod (2013) Do Muslim Women Need Saving? Harvard University Press.


Attiya Ahmad (2017) Everyday Conversions: Islam, Domestic Work and South Asian Migrant Women in Kuwait, Duke University Press.


Zahra Ali (2018) Women and Gender in Iraq: Between Nation-Building and Fragmentation, Cambridge University Press.


Sa’ed Atshan and Darnell L. Moore (2014) ‘Reciprocal Solidarity: Where the Black and Queer Palestinian Struggles Meet’, Biography, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 680-705.


Asef Bayat (2013) Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East, Stanford: Stanford University Press.


Brenna Bhandar and Rafeef Ziadah (2020) Revolutionary Feminisms: Conversations on Collective Action and Radical Thought, London & New York: Verso.


Farha Ghannam (2013) Live and Die Like a Man: Gender Dynamics in Urban Egypt’, Stanford University Press.


Marnia Lazreg (1988) ‘Feminism and Difference: The Perils of Writing as a Woman on Women in Algeria’, Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 81-107.


Saba Mahmood (2005) The Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Mohanty, Chandra (1984) ‘Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses’, boundary 2, Vol. 12/13, pp. 333-358.


Rahul Rao (2014) ‘Queer Questions’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, pp. 199-217.


Jason Ritchie (2014) ‘Black skin splits: The birth (and death) of the queer Palestinian’ in J. Haritaworn, A. Kuntsman and S. Posocco (Eds.) Queer Necropolitics, Routledge, pp. 111-128.


Ella Shohat (2001) ‘Area Studies, Transnationalism and the Feminist Production of Knowledge’, Signs, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 1269-1272.

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

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

Key words search

Gender, Sexuality, Politics, Middle East 

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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