580.2 Producing konlwedge for justice? Gender/sexuality studies and the consumption of Arabs and Muslims

Friday, August 3, 2012: 2:45 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Rabab ABDULHADI , Arab & Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative, Race and Resistance Studies, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Focusing on gender/sexuality dynamics in Arab uprising and drawing on pedagogical lessons learned during other intense political moments while teaching a diverse body of students with a wide-range of disciplinary and multi-disciplinary majors, this paper will discuss how U.S. college students receive, consume, and reproduce Arab revolutions in different contexts and historical moments. The paper will further speak to several issues at the heart of intellectual and pedagogical praxis:


  • Does the acquisition of knowledge lead to a heightened awareness of the humanity of all people and their right to justice, as conventional wisdom would have us believe? Or does knowing the subject at times reinforce dogmas and/or normalize hegemonic discourses that become “ordinary parts” of everyday life? If so, what are the necessary conditions to favor the knowledge-leads-to-justice equation instead of the second alternative?
  • Do critical issues facing Tunisian, Egyptian, Yemeni, Bahraini, Jordanian, Libyan, Palestinian, and Syrian people retain their criticalness as they travel across the seas and land in U.S. classrooms? If so, when and for which students? If not, how do we at the very least explain the sense of urgency people in Arab lands feel?
  • How do we negotiate the nurturing of student critical thinking, on one level, honor victims of sexual (and gender, racial, ethnic, or religious) violence on a second, and highlight their agency, on a third without inadvertently fueling the expected dose of conclusions that usually accompany discussions of gender and sexuality dynamics in Arab and Muslim communities?
  • Is it possible this time around to expect a defeat of the doctrine of exceptionality of Arab and Muslim communities, their inferiority and backwardness; and the many deficiencies from which people populating these lands are supposed to suffer?