Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging

Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging

Winner of the Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award, Arab American National Museum, 2012

In this collection, Arab and Arab American feminists enlist their intimate experiences to challenge simplistic and long-held assumptions about gender, sexuality, and commitments to feminism and justice-centered struggles. Contributors hail from multiple geographical sites, spiritualities, occupations, sexualities, class backgrounds, and generations. Poets, creative writers, artists, scholars, and activists employ a mix of genres to express feminist issues and highlight how Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives simultaneously inhabit multiple, overlapping, and intersecting spaces: within families and communities; in anticolonial and antiracist struggles; in debates over spirituality and the divine; within radical, feminist, and queer spaces; in academia and on the street; and between each other.

Contributors explore themes as diverse as the intersections between gender, sexuality, Orientalism, racism, Islamophobia, and Zionism, and the restoration of Arab Jews to Arab American histories. This book asks how members of diasporic communities navigate their sense of belonging when the country in which they live wages wars in the lands of their ancestors. Arab and Arab American Feminisms opens up new possibilities for placing grounded Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives at the center of gender studies, Middle East studies, American studies, and ethnic studies.

Listed as one of the “27 things to read if you care about women of color” by Alia E. Dastagir in USA Today, March 28, 2017

“Animated by a radical passion for justice broad enough to bring Palestine into the same frame as transgender issues, environmental sustainability, and immigration rights, this volume with challenge any single-axis approach to contemporary activism.” – Angela Y. Davis, author of Women, Culture and Politics

“Incisive feminist analyses on Arab and Muslim Americans. Empirically rich, creative research. Searing critiques of illusions and raw realities of race, gender, sexuality, and nation in ‘post-racial America.’” – Suad Joseph, editor of Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East

“This groundbreaking book offers an extraordinarily rich collection of powerful voices, which speak in an abundance of diverse genres and perspectives. While each contribution is eye-opening alone, the volume as a whole is a collective achievement to celebrate. Arab and Arab American Feminisms will creatively and rigorously make readers rethink the meaning of every work in the title.” – Amy Kaplan, author of The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture

“A passionate, deeply moving, illuminating text that needs to be on everyone’s bookshelf—especially those of us concerned with racial, sexual, and gender justice in a post 9/11 world.” – Chandra Talpade Mohanty, author of Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity

“This is the collection I had been waiting for; a living validation that women of color feminism is a liberation theory and freedom practice distinct from liberal Western notions of women’s identity and rights.  As envisioned in This Bridge Called My Back thirty years ago, Arab and Arab American Feminisms travels across national boundaries and through the complex terrain of culture, religion, geography, and embodied desire to “illuminate the structural forces that influence (Arab and Arab American women) lives.”  All necessary liberatory tools are employed here, but what is most notable is the plain courage of the voices. As citizens of the Arab diaspora, the writers in this book confront the unyielding countenance of Post-9/11 American patriotism, maintaining a fierce loyalty to their home-cultures. In the same vein, the sovereignty of Palestine is upheld as the uncompromised site (and symbol) of political equity and peace for all Arab peoples. What would a women of color feminism look like chiseled from the sculpting hands of Arab and Arab American women?  It is this book, cut out from the stone of imperialist and civil wars, rape, dislocation, patriarchal religious fundamentalisms and American terrorism, but transformed into a collection of writings that, plain and simple, gives one faith, again, in the promise of political movement.” – Cherríe Moraga, co-editor of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color

Reviews of Arab and Arab American Feminisms