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Study information

Gendered Politics of the Middle East

Module titleGendered Politics of the Middle East
Module codePOC3127
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Sabiha Allouche (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Why gendering the Middle East? By applying a gender lens, this module provides a unique perspective to explore the Middle East beyond conventional analytical approaches. The module prioritizes contemporary intersectional feminist and queer thinking and praxis in the Middle East and closely examines the processes by which the private/public lives of women, men and non-normative bodies are gendered.  As a result, the module uncovers and remedies Orientalist tropes that reduce gender and sexuality in the Middle East to the “question of the veil” or to homophobic states and societies. Also, and in addition to weaving together anthropological, ethnographic, historical and political texts in its investigation of the politics of gender and sexuality in the region, the module lays the foundations for transnational solidarity work among scholars, students and activists working on/in/from the Middle East. This module is an opportunity to think methodologically about knowledge production and to re-evaluate how certain knowledges and voices become prioritized over others.

No prior knowledge skills or experience are required to take this module and it is suitable for specialist and non-specialist students.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module offers an overview of the main debates that inform and are informed by the study of gender and sexuality in the Middle East. It is a highly inter-disciplinary module that combines different theoretical and methodological approaches. The module emphasises the tight links between theory and activism whilst stressing the limits of binary analysis.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Identify some of the key social, economic and political contexts that inform and are informed by gender in the Middle East.
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of gender in the Middle East beyond representational politics, notably the “woman question” or the practice of “veiling”

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Evaluate critically the role of the state, religious authorities, donors and further political actors in the construction of discourses on/of gender and sexuality in the Middle East
  • 4. Evaluate different theoretical and methodological approaches employed in the study of gender and sexuality in the Middle East

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. Write analytically for an academic and non-academic public
  • 6. Demonstrate good research and indexing praxis (online and in the library)
  • 7. Communicate arguments effectively through written submissions and verbal presentations

Syllabus plan

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

  • Why Gender and Sexuality? Epistemic Violence and the Middle East
  • Pre-modern/Islamicate Sexualities: History as Empowering? 
  • Gendering the Nation-State: Modernity and the “Woman Question” (Egypt)
  • Rethinking the Private/Public Divide: Personal Status Laws (Lebanon / Tunisia/ UAE)
  • Queering the Middle East: Queer Theory vs. LGBT analysis (Queer IR)
  • Islamic/Queer Feminisms: An Oxymoron? (Iran)
  • Gender and Conflict in the Middle East: The Case of Kurdish Militant Women
  • Sexuality and Conflict in the Middle East: The Case of Pinkwashing (Israel/Palestine)
  • Masculinity and its Paradoxes I: “Live and Die like a Man”
  • Masculinity and its Paradoxes II: Gendering the Arab Spring
  • Popular Culture as Counter-Narratives? Emerging Scholarship and Future Research

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 2hr seminars
Guided independent study128Private study – students are expected to read suggested texts and make notes prior to seminar sessions. They are also expected to read widely to complete their coursework assignments. More specifically, students are expected to devote at least: 66 (6 hours per topic/week) hours to directed reading; 6 hours to completing the formative research outline; 42 hours (3 hours/day over two weeks) for completing the essay; 10 hours (2 hours/day over 5 days) for completing opinion pieces. The 4 remaining hours serve as a margin to be adjusted depending on the student in question

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group project (small group of 2-4)5-8 Minutes1-7Written or verbal

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
Essay502000 words1-7Written
Collection of opinion pieces502000 words1-7Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (2000 words)1-7August/September reassessment period
Collection of opinion piecesCollection of opinion pieces (2000 words)1-7August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Edward Said, Orientalism

Meyda Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism

Deniz Kandiyoti, Gendering the Middle East

Suad Joseph, Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East

Sofian Merabet, Queer Beirut

Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times

Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject

Lara Deeb, An Enchanted Modern Gender and Public Piety in Shi'i Lebanon

Farha Ghannam, Live and Die like a Man: Gender Dynamics in Urban Egypt

Asef Bayat, Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East

Dina Singerman, Avenues of Participation: Family, Politics, and Networks in Urban Quarters of  Cairo 

Nadje Al-Ali, Iraqi Women: Untold Stories From 1948 to the Present

Ruba Salih, Gender in Transnationalism. Home, Longing and Belonging Among Moroccan Migrant Women.

Lila Abu-Lughod, Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East

Afsaneh Najmabadi, Women with Moustaches, Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity

Elizabeth Thompson, Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege, and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon

Dina Georgis, The Better Story: Queer Affects from the Middle East

Meem Collective, Bareed Mista3jil

Fatima Mernissi, Behind the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in a Muslim Society

Leila Ahmad, Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate

Key words search

Gender analysis, Middle East, State, Religion, Politics, Activism

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date