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Public Lecture - Nadje Al-Ali: "Feminist dilemmas: How to talk about gender-based violence in relation to the Middle East?"

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Location: MS.05 (Zeeman Building)

Speaker: Prof Nadje Al-Ali (SOAS)

Discussant: Dr Nicola Pratt (Warwick)

Event Details:

This event is free and open to all (no registration required), and will be followed by a reception.


The talk will chart my trajectories and dilemmas as a feminist activist/academic to research, write and talk about gender based violence (GBV) with reference in to the Middle East. More specifically I will be drawing on research and activism in relation to Iraq, Turkey as well as Lebanon to map the discursive, political and empirical challenges and complexities linked to scholarship and activism that is grounded in both feminist and anti racist/anti-Islamophobic politics.

The political and academic aim to challenge essentialised ideas of Middle Eastern exceptionalism and conflated notions of Muslim, Arab/Middle Eastern culture has clearly been an on-going and familiar motivation for many academics/activists researching and writing on women and gender issues. Maybe more controversially I will reflect on my increasing discomfort with narratives about GBV that focus solely on the impact of external factors, mainly framed with reference to imperialism and neo-liberalism , instead of recognising not simply complicity but pro-active involvement of various local and regional actors. Drawing on my previous work on Iraq, and my more recent work on the Kurdish women's movement and queer feminist activism in Lebanon, I will share the dilemmas and tensions of involved in a transnational feminist knowledge production and activism.

Speaker Bio:

Nadje Al-Ali is Professor of Gender Studies at the Centre for Gender Studies (CGS), SOAS University of London. She is currently chair of CGS but will leave SOAS to take up a new position in anthropology with reference to the Middle East at Brown University in January. Her main research interests revolve around feminist activism; transnational migration and diaspora moblization; war, conflict and peace; as well as art & cultural studies; mainly with reference to Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and the Kurdish political movement. Her publications include What kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq (2009, University of California Press, co-authored with Nicola Pratt); Women and War in the Middle East: Transnational Perspectives (Zed Books, 2009, co-edited with Nicola Pratt); Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present (2007, Zed Books); New Approaches to Migration (ed., Routledge, 2002, with Khalid Koser); Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East (Cambridge University Press 2000) as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles. Her co-edited book with Deborah al-Najjar entitled We are Iraqis: Aesthetics & Politics in a Time of War (Syracuse University Press) won the 2014 Arab-American book prize for non-fiction. Her more recent research and publications focus on the Turkish-Kurdish conflict and the Kurdish women’s movement.

Professor Al-Ali was President of the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS) from 2009-2011. She has been a member of the Feminist Review Collective, and is on the editorial board of Kohl: a journal of body and gender research. She was involved in several projects with Iraqi academics and women’s rights activists with the aim to facilitate the introduction of women and gender studies and increase evidence-based research capacity in Iraq.


Useful Information:

  • For information on getting to the University of Warwick, see here.
  • You can find a map of campus here. The lecture will take place in the Zeeman (Maths and Stats building), which appears at the top of the map.
  • The venue is wheelchair accessible with accessible toilets nearby. If you face other access barriers or require more detailed accessibility information, please let us know so we can support your full participation.
  • We are unfortunately not able to offer childcare for this event, but babies and children are very welcome, and we will do our best to provide any amenities and adjustments necessary to support colleagues bringing babies or children.
  • If you have any questions or need special assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Maria do Mar Pereira (

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