The McMillan-Stewart lectures are coordinated by the MIT Program in Gender and Women's Studies and are organized by the holder of the namesake chair, Lerna Ekmekcioglu, of the MIT History Faculty since 2011. Endowed by Geneviève McMillan, the lectures provide a space for scholars, artists, journalists, activists, and other experts to reflect on issues related to women in the developing world, specifically (but not exclusively) in the Middle East and North Africa. Lectures are free and open to the public.
Bio: Zahra ALI / زهراء علي
is a sociologist, her research explores dynamics of women and gender, social and political movements in relation to Islam(s) and the Middle East and contexts of war and conflicts with a focus on contemporary Iraq. She is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rutgers university. Her recent book Women and Gender in Iraq: between Nation-building and Fragmentation (Cambridge University Press, 2018) is a sociological study of Iraqi women’s social, political activism and feminisms through an in-depth ethnography of post-2003 Iraqi women’s rights organizations and a detailed research on Iraqi women’s social, economic and political experiences since the formation of the Iraqi state.
This lecture reflects on recent research on women, gender and feminisms in relation to Islam(s) and the Middle East. It explores more specifically today’s feminisms in Iraq through a critical feminist perspective drawing upon in-depth ethnographic research among Iraqi women’s rights groups and detailed historical analysis of Iraqi women’s social, economic and political experiences since the formation of the Iraqi state. It looks at the ways in which gender norms and practices, Iraqi feminist discourses and activisms are shaped and developed through state politics, competing nationalisms, religious, tribal and sectarian dynamics, as well as wars and economic sanctions. The lecture particularly examines the context following the US-led invasion and occupation and explores the realities of Iraqi women’s lives, political activism and feminisms especially the challenges posed by sectarianism and militarism.