Rethinking Gender in Revolutions and Resistance

Lessons from the Arab World

Edited by Maha El Said, Lena Meari, and Nicola Pratt


How political turmoil and dissent are re-shaping gender roles in the Arab world.

Ever since the uprisings that swept the Arab world, the role of Arab women in political transformations received unprecedented media attention. The copious commentary, however, has yet to result in any serious study of the gender dynamics of political upheaval.

Rethinking Gender in Revolutions and Resistance is the first book to analyse the interplay between moments of sociopolitical transformation, emerging subjectivities and the different modes of women’s agency in forging new gender norms in the Arab world. Written by scholars and activists from the countries affected, including Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, this is an important addition to Middle Eastern gender studies.

Author Bio

Maha El Said is a professor at the English Department, Cairo University. She has more than 22 years of experience teaching at Egyptian universities with a special interest in American studies. She was the first to write a book-length dissertation on Arab-American poetry, in 1997.

Lena Meari is an assistant professor at the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department and the Institute of Women’s Studies at Birzeit University, Palestine. Her teaching, research interests and writing focus on settler colonialism in Palestine and formations of revolutionary movements, subjectivities, gender relations and development.

Nicola Pratt is reader in the international politics of the Middle East at University of Warwick. She has been researching and writing about Middle East politics since the end of the 1990s and is particularly interested in feminist approaches as well as ‘politics from below’.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Rethinking Gender in Revolutions and Resistance in the Arab World - Maha El Said, Lena Meari and Nicola Pratt
  • Part 1 The Malleability of Gender and Sexuality in Revolutions and Resistance
    • 1. Reconstructing Gender in Post-revolutionary Egypt - Shereen Abouelnaga
    • 2. Re-signifying 'Sexual' Colonial Power Techniques: The Experiences of Palestinian Women Political Prisoners - Lena Meari
    • 3. A Strategic Use of Culture: Egyptian Women's Subversion and Resignification of Gender Norms - Hala G. Sami
  • Part 2 The Body and Resistance
    • 4. She Resists: Body Politics Between Radical and Subaltern - Maha El-Said
    • 5. Framing the Female Body: Beyond Morality and Pathology? - Abeer Al-Najjar and Anoud Abusalim
    • 6. Women's Bodies in Post-Revolution Libya: Control and Resistance - Sahar Mediha Elnaas and Nicola Pratt
  • Part 3 Gender and the Construction of the Secular/Islamist Binary
    • 7. Islamic Feminism and the Equivocation of Political Engagement: 'Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair' - Omaima Abou-Bakr
    • 8. Islamic and Secular Women's Activism and Discourses in Post-uprising Tunisia - Aitemad Muhanna
  • Conclusion: Towards New Epistemologies and Ontologies of Gender and Socio-Political Transformation in the Arab World - Maha El Said, Lena Meari and Nicola Pratt


'Every contributor here has insights to offer. I found myself re-thinking again and again what women activists created in the wake of their historic acts of political resistance. What a valuable book!'
Cynthia Enloe, author of Seriously! Investigating Crashes and Crises as if Women Mattered

'Boldly challenging Orientalist and liberalist analyses of the Arab world, El Said, Meari, and Pratt, assemble a set of brilliant interventions.'
Suad Joseph, University of California, Davis

'Prescient and insightful ... succeeds in unpicking unfounded generalisations concerning both the nature of the Arab Spring and of women's participation and resistance.'
Ruth Pearson, professor emeritus, University of Leeds

'This timely and exciting volume leaves no doubt that a gendered lens is key to understanding socio-political transformations in the Middle East.'
Nadje Al-Ali, SOAS University of London

'If you are interested in Palestinian resistance of Israeli sexual interrogation techniques and/or the post-revolutionary politics of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia and how they have placed the body and sexuality at center stage, this book offers fresh discussions of new approaches, debates and constructions ...'
Mervat F. Hatem, Howard University

'An important and original contribution to transnational, postcolonial feminist scholarship.'
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, distinguished professor of women's and gender studies, Syracuse University, and author of Feminism Without Borders


Publication Date: 14 May 2015
272 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783602827
Hardback: 9781783602834
eBook ePub: 9781783602858
eBook PDF: 9781783602841
eBook Kindle: 9781783602865

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