In her powerful new book Women and Gender in Iraq: Between Nation-Building and Fragmentation
(Cambridge University Press, 2018), Zahra Ali
presents a detailed and fascinating account of Muslim feminist discourses and politics in modern Iraq. Women and Gender in Iraq
represents historical anthropology at its best; it combines careful attention to the historical contexts and contingencies that have shaped feminist politics in Iraq with an intimate ethnography of the major actors and conditions that continue to drive the narrative of feminist politics and horizons in the country. In our conversation, we talked about the formations of urban middle class gender politics and women's political activism in Iraq before and after the Ba’th period, "the communilization of the Iraqi political system" and its impact on women political activism in the country, the pressures and fissures generated by transnational networks of social and political activism, the "NGOization of women's activism" in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the importance of this book in relation to the currently unfolding political developments in Iraq. This lucidly written book, in addition to attracting the interest of a range of scholars, will also make a great text for courses on Islam, gender, Middle East politics and history, feminist thought, sociology, and anthropology.
SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listener feedback is most welcome.