Unmasking the Gaze: Unpacking Colonial Understandings of Gender Programming in Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan


Abdelrahman, Hadiya. 2020. "Unmasking the Gaze: Unpacking Colonial Understandings of Gender Programming in Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan." PhD diss., Fordham University.

Author: Hadiya Abdelrahman


There have been emerging bodies of literature and research that are addressing the colonial roots of humanitarian aid. Research and literature that center humanitarianism in that history aim to disrupt the neutral and impartial framework that informs general understandings of it. In this thesis, I hope to disrupt the notion of its impartiality by contextualizing humanitarian aid, specifically around gender programming, in Zaatari Camp in Jordan through a colonial lens that further perpetuates inequality. By engaging with existing literature around colonial roots of humanitarianism and the colonial gaze around the brown (re: Muslim/Arab) bodies, I will further problematize Zaatari Camp as a space that serves as a continuum of both the roots and gaze of the colonial imagination.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Humanitarian Assistance, Race Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Jordan

Year: 2020

Prevalence of Anxiety and Depression among Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Living in War versus Non-war Zone Countries: A Randomized Controlled Trial Assessing a Pharmacist Intervention


Alkoudsi, Kinda T., and Iman A. Basheti. 2020. "Prevalence of Anxiety and Depression among Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Living in War versus Non-war Zone Countries: A Randomized Controlled Trial Assessing a Pharmacist Intervention.Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy 16 (5): 689-98.

Authors: Kinda T. Alkoudsi, Iman A. Basheti


Background: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a serious health problem. In women experiencing PCOS, there are myriad physical and mental health consequences; anxiety/depression are commonly associated with this condition. Community pharmacists are in a pivotal position to identify and help women diagnosed with PCOS. Objectives: To investigate the prevalence/severity of anxiety/depression among females diagnosed with PCOS living in Syria (a war-zone country) and Jordan (a non-war zone country). Secondly, to evaluate the impact of a pharmaceutical care service delivered by a clinical pharmacist on participants’ anxiety/depression severity. 
Methods: Females, diagnosed with PCOS above the age of 16, were recruited into the study and randomly allocated into either the active or the control group. The active group participants received a PCOS pharmaceutical care service. This service involved the provision of verbal and written educational materials, with a special focus on diet and exercise. The control group participants received only standard counseling. Both groups were followed up for four months. All participants completed the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory at baseline and follow-up. 
Results: Data from study participants (n = 118) from both Syria (n = 60) and Jordan (n = 58) highlighted a high prevalence of anxiety (Syria = 95% vs. Jordan = 98%) and depression (Syria = 83% vs. Jordan = 65%). At follow-up, active group participants, from both countries, showed significant improvements in anxiety and depression mean scores (anxiety: Syria = 34.97 ± 14.8 vs. 30.47 ± 14.3, p < 0.001; Jordan = 26.93 ± 13.7 vs. 23.37 ± 15.2, p < 0.001; depression: Syria = 26.53 ± 12.6 vs. 22.93 ± 12.2, p < 0.001; Jordan = 17.70 ± 11.0 vs. 15.76 ± 11.1, p = 0.049). No significant improvements were evident for control group participants from either countries. 
Conclusion: Prevalence of anxiety/depression for females with PCOS living in Syria and in Jordan is high and calls for special attention by healthcare specialists and policymakers in both countries. Females, who received the PCOS pharmaceutical care service, showed significant improvements in anxiety/depression scores. Improvements were similar in both countries.

Keywords: polycystic ovary syndrome, war, anxiety, depression

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Reproductive Health Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Jordan, Syria

Year: 2020

Challenging Refugee Men: Humanitarianism and Masculinities in Za‘tari Refugee Camp


Turner, Edward Lewis. 2018. "Challenging Refugee Men: Humanitarianism and Masculinities in Za‘tari Refugee Camp." PhD diss., SOAS University of London. 

Author: Lewis Edward Turner


Feminist scholarship has demonstrated that ‘womenandchildren’ become the central and uncontroversial objects of humanitarian care and control in contexts of conflict, disaster, and displacement. Yet very little scholarly work has attempted to understand the place of men within humanitarian policies, practices and imaginaries. Through an exploration of the life and governance of Za‘tari Refugee Camp, Jordan, in which 80,000 Syrians live, this thesis argues that for humanitarianism, refugee men present a challenge. Humanitarian actors read Syrian men in gendered and racialised ways as agential, independent, political, and at times threatening. Refugee men thereby disrupt humanitarian understandings of refugees as passive, feminised objects of care, and are not understood to be among the ‘vulnerable,’ with whom humanitarians wish to work. Grounded in feminist and critical International Relations scholarship, and with an emphasis on the embodied, material and spatial practices of humanitarianism, this thesis draws on twelve months of fieldwork in Jordan, including participant-observation in Za‘tari Refugee Camp, and interviews with humanitarian workers and refugees. It demonstrates that humanitarian actors consistently prioritise their own goals, logics, and understandings of gender, over those of Syrians themselves, and exercise power in masculinised ways that actively disempower their ‘beneficiaries’. In the name of ‘global’ standards, humanitarian interactions with, and control over, refugee women are justified by a rhetoric of ‘empowerment.’ Refugee men, by contrast, are present but made invisible within the distribution of humanitarian aid, time, space, resources, and employment opportunities. These modes of humanitarian governance challenge Syrian men’s understandings and performances of masculinities. Yet when refugee men attempt to exercise agency in response to the disempowerment they experience in Za‘tari, humanitarian actors understand them as problematically political, and too autonomous from the control of humanitarian and state authorities, who attempt to re-assert their authority over the camp, and render Za‘tari ‘governable.’

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugee/IDP Camps, Feminisms, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Humanitarian Assistance, Race Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Jordan

Year: 2018

The Space between Us: Feminist Values and Humanitarian Power Dynamics in Research with Refugees


Lokot, Michelle. 2019. "The Space between Us: Feminist Values and Humanitarian Power Dynamics in Research with Refugees." Gender & Development 27 (3): 467-84.

Author: Michelle Lokot


International humanitarian and development agencies striving to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment sometimes neglect to recognise the power hierarchies present in their own engagement with communities. Drawing on research on Syrian refugees and humanitarian workers in Jordan, this article explores the research and monitoring and evaluation practices of international humanitarian agencies. It suggests that the emphasis on generating evidence has resulted in more transactional and less relational engagement with refugees. This paper asks how feminist values can inform research with refugees, and explores how these values may provide less-extractive ways of engaging with displaced populations.
Les agences humanitaires et de développement internationales qui s’efforcent de promouvoir l’égalité entre les sexes et l’autonomisation des femmes négligent parfois de reconnaître les hiérarchies de pouvoir présentes dans leurs propres interactions avec les communautés. Cet article s’inspire de travaux de recherche menés parmi les réfugiés syriens et les travailleurs humanitaires en Jordanie pour examiner les pratiques de recherche et de suivi et évaluation des agences humanitaires internationales. Il suggère que l’accent mis sur l’obtention de données probantes a donné lieu à des interactions plus transactionnelles et moins relationnelles avec les réfugiés. Ce document pose la question de savoir comment les valeurs féministes peuvent éclairer les recherches menées parmi les réfugiés, et tente de déterminer comment ces valeurs pourraient fournir des manières moins extractives de dialoguer avec les populations déplacées.
Las agencias internacionales humanitarias y de desarrollo cuyos esfuerzos se dirigen a promover la igualdad de género y el empoderamiento de las mujeres, a veces descuidan reconocer las jerarquías de poder presentes en su propia intervención en las comunidades. El presente artículo analiza las prácticas de investigación, monitoreo y evaluación de las agencias humanitarias internacionales tomando como punto de partida una investigación sobre refugiados sirios y trabajadores humanitarios en Jordania. Al respecto sugiere que poner el énfasis en generar evidencia da lugar a un intercambio más centrado en lo transaccional que en lo relacional con los refugiados. Así, este artículo se pregunta cómo los valores feministas pueden aportar a la investigación con refugiados, examinando si es posible que proporcionen formas menos extractivas de interactuar con las poblaciones desplazadas.

Keywords: feminist values, international humanitarian agencies, refugees, power dynamics, research, monitoring and evaluation

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Feminisms, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Humanitarian Assistance, International Organizations Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Jordan

Year: 2019

Highlighting the Gender Disparities in Mental Health among Syrian Refugees in Jordan


Kisulu, Anita, and Lina Darras. 2018. "Highlighting the Gender Disparities in Mental Health among Syrian Refugees in Jordan." Intervention: Journal of Mental Health and Psychological Support in Conflict Affected Areas 16 (2): 140-46. 

Authors: Anita Kisulu, Lina Darras


Jordan has been a host country to many refugees from neighbouring countries for many years and has recently become a place of refuge for thousands of Syrians. The Syrian crisis has resulted in millions of Syrians fleeing their homes, uncertain of When they will return. Most of those seeking refuge have witnessed and/or experienced traumatic events that have affected their mental well-being in addition to starting over as refugees. Despite the large number of non-profit organizations providing free mental health services to refugees, not everyone has equal access to these services. This report, based on a literature review and a focus group discussion, highlights the different gender dimensions of mental health among Syrian refugees in Jordan. These risk factors include access to and use of mental health services, manifestation of mental health and psychosocial problems, treatment by mental-health workers and the socio-economic outcomes of living with someone suffering from mental health. 

Keywords: gender, Jordan, mental health, refugees, Syria

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Health, Mental Health, Livelihoods Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Jordan, Syria

Year: 2018

Syrian Refugee Men as Objects of Humanitarian Care


Turner, Lewis. 2019. "Syrian Refugee Men as Objects of Humanitarian Care." International Feminist Journal of Politics 21 (4): 595-616.

Author: Lewis Turner


Critical feminist scholars of conflict and displacement have demonstrated that “womenandchildren” (Enloe 1993) have become an uncontroversial object of humanitarian concern in these contexts (Carpenter 2003; Hyndman and Giles 2011). Yet very little scholarly work has attempted to understand the position of refugee men as a demographic within humanitarianism. Through an analysis of the Syria refugee response in Jordan, this article investigates how humanitarian workers relate to refugee men and think about refugee masculinities. It argues that refugee men have an uncertain position as objects of humanitarian care. Seeing refugee men as objects of humanitarian care would disrupt prevailing humanitarian understandings of refugeehood as a feminized subject position and of gender work as work that “helps women” (Cornwall 2007; Johnson 2011). It would furthermore challenge prevailing binary visions of refugee men as agential, political actors, and refugee women as in need of “empowerment” through the implementation of technocratic programming. In the context of the Syria refugee response, these gendered and racialized understandings of refugee men and masculinities are mediated by particular conceptions of “Arabness.” This research is based on ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative interviews with humanitarian workers and Syrian refugees, which was undertaken in Jordan in 2015–2016.
أثبتت الدراسات النسوية النقدية لقضايا النزوح والصراعات أن “النساؤلأطفال ” (Enloe 1993) أصبحوا من ملسلّمات الشواغل الإنسانية في سياقات هذه القضايا (Carpenter 2003; Hyndman and Giles 2011). فيما هناك عدد قليل من الدراسات التي سعت إلى فهم مكانة الرجال اللاجئين كشريحة بشرية ضمن العمل الإنساني . تستقصي هذه المقالة، من خلال تحليل العمل الإنساني مع اللاجئين السوريين في الأردن، كيفية تعامل وفهم المشتغلين بالقطاع الإنساني للرجال اللاجئين ورجولاتهم . تدلل المقالة بأن مكانة الرجال اللاجئين، بوصفهم أهدافا للرعاية الإنسانية، هي مكانة غير مؤكدة. إن اعتبار الرجال اللاجئين أهدافا للرعاية الإنسانية من شأنه أن يخلخل التصورات السائدة في القطاع الإنساني لحالة اللجوء كحالة تم تأنيثها وللعمل الجندري كعمل يسعى لـ “مساعدة المرأة” (Cornwall 2007; Johnson 2011). كما أن هذا الاعتبار من شأنه أن يتحدى الرؤى الثنائية السائدة التي ترى الرجال اللاجئين كذوي وكالة وكفاعلين سياسيين بينما ترى النساء اللاجئات كمحتاجات لـ “التمكين "، من خلال تنفيذ البرامج التكنوقراطية . إن هذه التصورات، التي تُقرن معها العرقية والنوع الاجتماعي، للرجال اللاجئين والرجولات في سياق التعامل مع اللجوء السوري تشكلها مفاهيم محددة لـ“عروبة” هؤلاء السوريين . يتكئ هذا البحث على العمل الميداني الإثنوغرافي والمقابلات النوعية التي تم اجراؤها في الأردن بين 2015 و2016 مع العاملين في القطاع الإنساني ومع اللاجئين السوريين
Kritische feministische Wissenschaftler*innen haben im Kontext von Konflikt und Flucht gezeigt wie “FrauenundKinder” (Enloe 1993) zu einem unkontroversen Objekt humanitären Interesses geworden sind (Carpenter 2003; Hyndman and Giles 2011). Jedoch setzt sich nur wenig akademische Forschung mit der Position geflüchteter Männer innerhalb humanitärer Arbeit auseinander. Durch eine Analyse der humanitären Reaktion auf syrische Geflüchtete in Jordanien untersucht dieser Artikel, in welcher Beziehung humanitäre Helfer*innen zu geflüchteten Männern stehen, und wie sie deren Maskulinitäten verstehen. Es wird argumentiert, dass geflüchtete Männer eine unklare Position als Objekte humanitärer Hilfe innehaben. Ein Verständnis von geflüchteten Männern als Objekte humanitärer Hilfe würde bedeuten, vorherrschende humanitäre Verständnisse des Flüchtlingsstatus aufzubrechen. Feminisierte Subjektpositionen und Genderarbeit als Arbeit, die „Frauen hilft” (Cornwall 2007; Johnson 2011), bilden diese vorherrschenden Verständnisse. Weiterhin würde diese Perspektive bestehende binäre Sichtweisen anfechten, die geflüchtete Männer als handlungsmächtige, politische Akteure darstellen. Geflüchteten Frauen hingegen soll durch technokratische “Empowerment-Programme” aus ihrer Schutz- und Hilfsbedürftigkeit geholfen werden. Diese gegenderten und rassifizierten Verständnisse werden durch spezifische Konzeptionen dessen, was es bedeutet, “ein*e Araber*in zu sein”, verhandelt. Dieser Artikel basiert auf ethnographischer Feldforschung und qualitativen Interviews mit humanitären Helfer*innen und syrischen Geflüchteten in Jordanien zwischen 2015–2016.

Keywords: humanitarianism, gender, men, masculinities, Syrian refugees

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Ethnicity, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Humanitarian Assistance, Race Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Jordan, Syria

Year: 2019

Employment Creation, Corruption and Gender Equality 2011-2014


Teti, Andrea, Pamela Abbott, and Francesco Cavatorta. 2017. “Employment Creation, Corruption and Gender Equality 2011-2014.” In The Arab Uprisings in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia, 103-22. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Authors: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott, Francesco Cavatorta


This chapter shows that, as with the economy, by 2014 people’s hopes that their lives would improve and that governments would address their grievances had been dashed. Early optimism was replaced by concern that things were not getting better. Trust in government was low—albeit higher in the judiciary and the police and very high in the army—and corruption in both government and society generally was seen as pervasive. People did not think their government was effective on corruption, job creation or service delivery. Gender inequality is crucial—not least to achieve inclusive development—but conservative values continue to be widespread, especially in Egypt and Jordan, and while attitudes are more liberal in Tunisia they have become more conservative following the Uprisings.

Keywords: Arab Uprisings, corruption, trust, women's rights, unemployment, public services

Topics: Corruption, Economies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, Middle East Countries: Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia

Year: 2017

Message from our Syrian Sisters

"Despite navigating a world of constant disruption, Syrian women and girls living as refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon bravely share why and how they continue to challenge inequalities and stereotypes in order to realize peace. These women peacebuilders may be separated by borders and war, but they have a single message to the world: Syrian women have ambitions and capacities to make change." 


Dislocated Masculinity: Adolescence and the Palestinian Nation-in-exile


Hart, Jason. 2008. “Dislocated Masculinity: Adolescence and the Palestinian Nation-in-exile.” Journal of Refugee Studies 21 (1): 64-81.

Author: Jason Hart


Taking as its starting-point emerging discussion about gender and nationalism, this article considers the masculinities constructed by and for adolescent males born into a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan. I consider the relationship of these masculinities to the construction of the camp as a moral and socio-political space. Through the employment of ethnographic material, the article demonstrates the ways in which young males—through the performance of a particular, dominant vision of masculinity termed mukhayyamji—serve to reproduce the camp as authentic location of an exilic national community. The article also examines the implications for individual young men of this interplay between masculine performance and the reproduction of the camp as a moral and socio-political space. It explores the consequences both for those who fail or choose not to uphold the idealized, mukhayyamji adolescent masculinity and for those who evince the skills and qualities that this entails. It is argued that, while the former risk marginalization from the camp as a moral and socio-political community, the latter face marginalization from the economic life of wider Jordanian society and, with that, endanger the transition to social adulthood. Thus, a set of paradoxes emerges for young males that reflects the ambiguous position of the Palestinian refugees in Jordan at a specific moment in the history of Jordan and the Palestinian national struggle.

Keywords: masculinity, adolescence, refugees, Jordan, Palestinian

Topics: Occupation, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Nationalism Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Jordan

Year: 2008

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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