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Middle East

Huda, Rihab, and Jessica: Orientalism and the Construction of Gender in Representations of the War on Iraq


Riley, Robin. 2009. “Huda, Rihab, and Jessica: Orientalism and the Construction of Gender in Representations of the War on Iraq.” Presented In Le Centre Sheraton Hotel, Montreal, Quebec, Canada: International Studies Association. 

Author: Robin Riley


The volume of news coverage generated around Jessica Lynch's capture by the Iraqis, her rescue, and her subsequent return to the US, hid from view not only other US American women who were similarly situated like Native American, Lori Piestewa, and African American Shoshona Johnson, but it also obscured the peril and devastation that first sanctions, then the war, imposed on Iraqi women. Instead, the Iraqi women westerners were made familiar with were the ominously nicknamed, Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax. The suffering of Iraqi women due to sanctions, was not a part of Western consciousness, and in the build-up to the war, women were not the focus of the western press who were obsessed with the detailing of Saddam Hussein's sins and predictions of his future actions. Even as the war commenced, we, in the US were rarely treated to images of ordinary Iraqi women who attempted to go about their lives while the bombs dropped around, and sometimes on, them. Today, we still have little knowledge about whether Iraqi women were imprisoned by US American or British troops as they swept across Iraq, or how many Iraqi women were killed as a result of American aggression. Consequently, Rihab Taha and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, two evil women who worked in Saddam Hussein's administration came to represent all Iraqi, indeed, all Arab women. The news stories about Rihab Taha and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash were used in US American popular culture to buttress Orientalist ideas about the West and its relationship to Iraq and the Arab world, and to reinforce old ideas about mysterious, often sinister woman of color. These narratives work not only to support the Bush administration's foreign policy and aggression against Iraq, but they also reinforce male supremacy and white supremacy. This research is an analysis of popular news accounts of the time including newspapers, magazines and television news stories. These stories reveal how the US thinks of itself in relation to the rest of the world and how enforcement of the proper practice of gender is always the subtext of these accounts.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Americas, North America, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq, United States of America

Year: 2009

Gender in Crisis: Women and the Palestinian Resistance Movement


Peteet, Julie. 1991. Gender in Crisis: Women and the Palestinian Resistance Movement. New York: Columbia University Press. 

Author: Julie Peteet




Introduction pg. 1

Research and Ethnography pg. 8

Women's Lives as Text pg. 15

Gender and Culture in Exile pg. 19

1948-1969 pg. 22

Althawrah the Revolution and Community Self-Reliance 1969-1982 pg. 27

Women in Exile pg. 33

The Palestinian Women's Movement Organization and Representation pg. 38

Nationalist Roots pg. 42

Striking Out on Their Own pg. 43

1936-1939 pg. 52

1948-1960 pg. 58

The 1950s pg. 60

Integration and Transformation pg. 63

Ideas and Action Political Consciousness pg. 67

The Multiplicity of Experience pg. 72

National Consciousness pg. 76

Class Consciousness pg. 81

Female and Feminist pg. 88

Mobilizing Women pg. 100

Step by Step pg. 104

Channels of Mobilization pg. 111

Mobilization and Crisis pg. 124

Ambiguous Status and the Life Cycle pg. 132

Obstacles to Mobilization pg. 134

Action Ideology and Gender in the National Movement pg. 142

Members and Friends pg. 143

Activism pg. 147

Militancy Femininity and Status pg. 152

Mechanisms of Control pg. 156

The National Movement on Gender pg. 158

Activism and Domesticity pg. 175

The Organization of Reproduction pg. 176

Domesticity and Activism pg. 183

Domesticating the Workplace pg. 200

The Loss of Autonomy and the Transforming of Gender pg. 204

The End of an Era pg. 210

The Aftermath pg. 214

Notes pg. 219

References pg. 231

Index pg. 239 

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Political Participation Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Lebanon, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 1991

Palestinian Women’s Voices Challenging Human Rights Activism


Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera, and Sana Khsheiboun. 2009. “Palestinian Women’s Voices Challenging Human Rights Activism.” Women’s Studies International Forum 32 (5): 354–62. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2009.07.012.

Authors: Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Sana Khsheiboun


A recent study in the Occupied Territories has shown that the most vulnerable groups of society (women, children, and the elderly) are psychologically influenced by the attacks on Palestinian home and land. Psychological and sociological research in Gaza has shown that women suffer the most from psychosomatic problems, while the children and the elderly are subject to depression, severe trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Women's testimonies in the region have demonstrated their capacity to protect themselves, their work, and even their studies despite the dangers involved. These appear to heighten women's defensive mechanisms for facing continuously aggressive acts and practices. Women's stories about homelessness and loss are mainly constructed through their own understanding that the attack on the Palestinian home is part of a larger trend of dominating military forces against the Palestinian ‘Other’. Women have maintained that the destruction of their homes hindered their own progress especially in the domain of protecting family unity, and they have concluded that it is precisely the goal of such policies to destabilize society in this manner. This article uses case studies and interviews with Palestinian women to support a socio-political analysis of this particular situation in the Occupied Territories.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Rights, Human Rights Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2009

Transforming Nationhood from within the Minefield: Arab Female Guerrilla Fighters and the Politics of Peace Poetics


Al-Samman, Hanadi. 2009. “Transforming Nationhood from within the Minefield: Arab Female Guerrilla Fighters and the Politics of Peace Poetics.” Women’s Studies International Forum 32 (5): 331–39. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2009.07.011.

Author: Hanadi Al-Samman


This research addresses the corpus of war narratives penned by Arab female authors in general, and Hamida Na'na', a Syrian writer in particular. In her novel The Homeland (1979), Na'na' examines the ways in which Arab female guerrilla fighters transform the concept of nationhood from a totalitarian “imagined community,” in Benedict Anderson's (1983) sense, to an all-encompassing, post-war, humanist rhetoric. The experience of the heroine as a former freedom fighter and highjacker convinces her to abandon organized patriarchal paradigms of violence that rely on the propagation of a sacred war myth, and to embrace a peace poetics model in the reconstruction of the national narrative. In the final analysis, the novel endorses post-modern, national definitions of citizenship that are built on the dialogue of words rather than guns—on the constant shifting and reshuffling of all centers of power so as to ensure equal participation of all fragmented and previously—excluded national selves including that of the feminine. The positionality, however, of this counter-feminine, national consciousness has to focus on centering itself in the homeland if it is to succeed in eliminating the hegemony of the essentialist, national narrative. Hence the insistence in this novel on homecoming, even if the first attempts are met with initial disappointments, and even if physical sacrifices leading to death have to be made. The only answer to transforming these essentialist dichotomies lies in deconstructing systematic, institutionalized patterns of violence from within, in advocating human love instead of sectarianism. This goal can only be accomplished if women act as active participants in the construction of a new, national, humanist, aural narrative, and not as voyeurs from the side-lines. Recent theories of location and nationhood such as those by Caren Kaplan (1996) are employed to frame the discussion of this novel and other related texts.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Nationalism, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes Regions: Asia, Middle East

Year: 2009

Women, War, and Conflict


Toman, Cheryl. 2009. “Women, War, and Conflict.” Women’s Studies International Forum 32 (5): 325–30. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2009.07.005.

Author: Cheryl Toman


This piece serves as an introduction to the Special Issue on Women, War, and Conflict featuring nine contributing authors in a variety of fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The regions covered in the essays include the Middle East, Africa, The Balkans, and Asia. Toman also explains the theories and approaches from which this Special Issue was inspired—in particular, theories on sexuality and war (Accad) and women's creativity and dissidence (El-Saadawi). There are also references to the Afro-Lebanese woman.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women Regions: Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Balkans

Year: 2009

Militarization and Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: A Palestinian Case-Study


Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera. 2009. Militarization and Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: A Palestinian Case-Study. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Author: Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian


This book examines and discusses the ordeals that women face as violence is perpetrated against them in politically conflicted and militarized areas. In conflict zones, every act is affected by, dependent on and mobilised by militaristic values. The militarization of both the private and public space and the use of the gendered bodies increases the vulnerability of both men and women, and further masculinises the patriarchal hegemonic powers. Through the stories and ordeals of women in politically conflicted areas and war zones, and by sharing voices of Palestinian women from the Occupied Territories, it is shown that claims such as 'security reasoning', fear from 'terrorism', nationalism, preservation of 'cultural authenticity' and preservation of the land can turn women's bodies and lives into boundary markers and thus sites of violence, contestation and resistance.





Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Violence Regions: Asia, Middle East Countries: Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2010

Lebanese Women Disability Rights Activists: War-Time Experiences


Wehbi, Samantha. 2010. “Lebanese Women Disability Rights Activists: War-Time Experiences.” Women’s Studies International Forum 33 (5): 455–63. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.05.001.

Author: Samantha Wehbi


Dominant feminist scholarship in the West has tended to equate being Arab or Muslim with oppression and to negate the active histories of resistance of women in these societies. In addition, feminist and disability studies scholarship has largely omitted an exploration of the experiences of women with disabilities. This paper attempts to addresses these tendencies and gaps in the scholarship by presenting the findings of a case study adopting a critical disability research approach. The study explored the activism role and experiences of 14 women with disabilities and their allies working in various regions of Lebanon during situations of war. Relying on a feminist postcolonial analysis and focusing on the intersection of gender and disability in the experiences of the activists, several main themes emerged from the semi-structured interviews: awareness of oppression; mitigating the impact of oppression; and the balancing acts negotiating motherhood and activism.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Lebanon

Year: 2010

Gendered Space, Power Relationships and Domestic Planning and Design among Displaced Israeli Bedouin


Meir, Avinoam, and Maria Gekker. 2011. “Gendered Space, Power Relationships and Domestic Planning and Design among Displaced Israeli Bedouin.” Women’s Studies International Forum 34 (3): 232–41. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2011.01.010.

Authors: Avinoam Meir, Maria Gekker


Following displacement to State planned towns, Israeli Bedouin women lost many of their traditional agro-pastoral productive roles and became subject to stricter patriarchal confinement to their homes. Despite becoming the focus of their lifeworld, their involvement in establishing it, and their domestic gender planning and design relationships, have received little attention. In this study, roles of husbands and wives and participation in planning and designing their homes were examined in the new Bedouin town of Hura. Differences emerge between the displaced generation and the second urban generation, characterized by different ages and educational levels and varying accessibility to forbidden public spaces. This component of Bedouin women's identity and power has begun to recover, following deterioration after displacement. And yet the most significant involvement of women is restricted to the aesthetic, rather than to the physical domestic aspects of gendered relationships. Greater accessibility to hitherto forbidden public spaces has become a major source of changing internal domestic gender planning and design relationships.

The Bedouin of the Negev desert are part of Israel's internal refugee population resulting from the 1948 Israeli War of Independence/Palestinian Naqba (Abu-Rabia, 1994 and Abu-Rabia, 2002). Many of them have been twice displaced since then: first, from their traditional tribal territories and agro-pastoral subsistence economy into a militarily administered enclave, a phase that lasted until the mid-1960s, and second, since then, about half of the rapidly growing population into State planned towns. This process of settling in town after displacement has been extensively studied from a variety of cultural social economic and political perspectives (Meir, 1997 and Ben-David, 2004). One of its sub-processes is the novel experience of urban permanent home building, a most fundamental and critical one in striking roots in the new environment. Yet, despite receiving some attention (Ben-David, 1992 and Ben-David, 1993) and the recent spurt in research on Bedouin women, no attention whatsoever has been paid to the house project as a highly intensive arena of gendered relationships. In particular, research on Bedouin women misses here one of their most intimate spatial areas of experience within a patriarchal social setting, second only, perhaps, to the self and body. We refer to their unique need to both conceptually and physically reconstruct their homes, as well as their identities within them, amidst the deep socio-cultural crisis following forced relocation.

This paper is thus concerned with the gender dynamics of Bedouin husbands and wives in the process of domestic planning and design within the new semi-urban environment. The questions addressed refer to the process of gendered power relationships within the patriarchal household following displacement, how an understanding of improved women's access to other social and economic resources helps placing this process in context, and whether it is capable of empowering women externally within the Bedouin community at large.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Forced Migration, IDPs, Urban Displacement, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Gender Equality/Inequality Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel

Year: 2011

Palestinian Women in the Intifada: Fighting on Two Fronts


Kuttab, Eileen. 1993. “Palestinian Women in the Intifada: Fighting on Two Fronts.” Arab Studies Quarterly 15 (2): 1-69.

Author: Eileen Kuttab


"Focuses on the role of Palestinian women in the Intifada, the first Palestinian mass mobilization and culmination of resistance to the Israeli occupation. Historical overview of Palestinian women's participation in the national struggle; Democratization of the women's movement; Comparative perspective between the `old' and `new' women's movement; Platforms and agendas of the women's committees" (EBSCOhost).

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Occupation, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Nationalism Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 1993

Daughters of Palestine: Leading Women of the Palestinian National Movement


Kawar, Amal. 1996. Daughters of Palestine: Leading Women of the Palestinian National Movement. New York: SUNY Press.

Author: Amal Kawar



"Based on interviews of the PLO's top women leaders in the Palestinian diaspora and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Daughters of Palestine provides the first examination of the full history of women's involvement in the Palestinian National Movement from the revolution in the mid-1960s to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in the early 1990s. Going beyond media imagery, Amal Kawar reviews the women's social and political backgrounds to explain how they overcame the traditional gender roles pervasive in Arab societies and became involved in politics. She then focuses on particular periods in the history of the Palestinian movement, as it moved from Jordan to Lebanon, Tunisia, and the Occupied Territories. Issues covered include women's nationalist activities, their relationship to the male leadership, the impact of crises, and the upsurge of the Islamist movement. A consistent theme of this investigation is how conflicts and crises, inside and outside the Palestinian arena, challenge and frame the success of women's nationalist work. Daughters of Palestine highlights the dilemma of national liberation struggles that both promote and co-opt women's liberation aspirations" (WorldCat). 


List of Figures



1. Three Generations of Women Leaders

2. AMMAN Early Years of Revolutionary Struggle

3. BEIRUT National Mobilization and Civil War

4. TUNIS Decline of Mobilization in the Palestinian Diaspora

5. JERUSALEM Women's Committees in the Occupied Territories


Appendix: Interview List




Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Occupation, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Nationalism, Peace Processes Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, Middle East Countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Tunisia

Year: 1996


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