Contemporary Muslim Women’s Voices

In Emails from Scheherazad, Mohja Kahf writes back to post-9/11 neo-Orientalist epistemologies, informing Western discourses on Muslim, especially veiled, women: “Yes, I speak English/Yes, I carry explosives/They’re called words/And if you don’t get up/Off your assumptions/They’re going to blow you away” (35). Similarly, other writers, such as Leila Aboulela, Ahdaf Soueif, Hanan al-Shaykh and Tahmina Anam, work towards decolonizing Muslim women’s bodies, whilst stressing piety as a lived experience. Still others, among them Randa Abdel-Fattah, Shelina Janmohamed, G. Willow Wilson and Umm Juwayriyah, are turning to and ‘Islamizing’ youth culture genres like young adult fiction, romance, fantasy and urban fiction. Currently, the internet project Muslima. Muslim Women’s Art & Voices displays web-art, photography and other works by Muslim women artists from translocal contexts. Platforms like altmuslimah.com, hijabi lifestyle vlogs and a particularly diverse blogosphere testify to Muslim women’s vital and creative involvement in digital cultures. Arguably, contemporary Muslim female writers, artists and cultural producers, from Islamicate to diasporic contexts, agitate against a reductive identitarian logic of ‘the’ Muslim woman sustained by Western representational regimes, Islamist fundamentalisms as well as some secular feminist positions. In the light of a sheer multiplicity of emergent voices, we would like to invite essays focussing on contemporary cultural production by (and on) Muslim women. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Muslim/Islamic feminisms in cultural texts; from theoretical approaches á la Fatima Mernissi, Leila Ahmed, Asma Barlas, Nawal El Saadawi etc. to popular cultural formations á la Ms Marvel and Qahera.
  • Life writing, autobiographical texts and (scholar-)activism, e.g. Muslim confessional literatures/media and edited collections on faith-centred feminisms, anti-racism, anti-capitalism and sexualities.
  • Playwrights like Sudha Bhuchar, Emteaz Hussain, Nadia Manzoor, Ambreen Razia, Alia Bano and feminist theatre and performance from Muslim-majority to diasporic contexts.
  • Filmic contestations, e.g. Yasmin, The Source, Three Veils, Wadjda and works by Muslim women filmmakers like Sally El Hosaini, Tahmineh Milani, Shirin Neshat etc.
  • Diversifications of genre; Muslim romance, chick-lit, YA, speculative fiction etc.
  • Performances of selves in digital cultures, e.g. Muslima YouTubers, Insta-Stars, politico-ethical bloggers (Dina Torkia, Sabina England, Hoda Katebi etc.).
  • 9/11, Self-presentation and the politics of neoliberalism/postfeminism; the Muslim woman as a marketing tool?

Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a brief biography should be submitted by June 15, 2017. The deadline for the completed papers of 5000-8000 words (MLA style, numbered paragraphs) is August 15, 2017.

(Publication date: Autumn 2017)

EnGendered Borders

In a 2016 music video, “Borders”, the ever-controversial M.I.A., herself a Tamil refugee, comments on the gendered aspects of Western anxieties in the on-going refugee ‘crisis’: images of endless masses of all-male refugees of colour resonate with right-wing myths of uncivilized brown invaders, stealing jobs, raping white women and undermining Euro-American gender progressivism. In fact, gender issues are a constitutive force not only in refugee status and immigration law, but also in media discourses and popular knowledge production about refugees. “[T]reated as interruptions, intermittent presences” (Said 1986), the Othered gendered practices of refugees are fused into a negative dispositive against which Western host countries can repeatedly rework their gender and sexual exceptionalism. Headscarf debates, “saving brown women from brown men” narratives (Spivak 1988), as well as affective slippages between refugee masculinities, terrorism and perverse sexualities (Puar 2007) are coming to a new head. They hint at the ‘truth’-producing power of neo-Orientalist, neo-liberal vocabularies of gender, family and sexual norms in negotiations of refugee integration, cultural clashes, our and their values. We accept articles that engage the potentially intersecting technologies of gender, sexuality, body politics, race and nation in discourses about and emerging counter-discourses by refugees. Potential topics may include:

  • Gendering Critical Refugee Studies, Border Studies and Critical Geopolitics.
  • Refuge, asylum, border politics and irregular immigration as gendered and sexualized issues in media, political and feminist discourses.
  • Literary, filmic and TV representations of gendered refugee experiences.
  • Cultural production by refugees, e.g. M.I.A., Mona Hatoum, arts/theatre projects etc.
  • Life writing by refugees, e.g. in literary or digital contexts.
  • Feminisms across borders? Transnational feminist cultural studies in a ‘re’-bordering world.
  • Right-wing populism, securitization and sexual nationalism in recent electoral campaigns (Brexit, Trump, Le Pen, the German AfD).
  • Paradoxical nodal points between right-wing populism, anti-immigration sentiment, security politics, feminism, the woman and queer question, reifications and re-borderings of traditional gender relations, the militarization of Western societies and the renormalization of ‘enlightened’ sexisms and racisms.
  • To what extent are the return of the border and the return of sexisms interlinked and co-constitutive?

Please note that all submissions must have a strong emphasis on gender issues. Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a brief biography should be submitted by October 9, 2017. The deadline for the completed papers of 5000-8000 words (MLA 8 style, numbered paragraphs) is November 13, 2017.

(Publication date: Winter 2017)

Target articles should conform to current MLA Style (8th edition) and should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words in length. Please make sure to number your paragraphs and include a bio-blurb and an abstract of roughly 300 words. Files should be sent as email attachments in Word format. Please send your manuscripts to gender-forum”AT”uni-koeln.de.

We always welcome reviews on recent releases in Gender Studies! Submitted reviews should conform to current MLA Style (8th edition), have numbered paragraphs, and should be between 750 and 1,000 words in length. Please note that the reviewed releases ought to be no older than 24 months. In most cases, we are able to secure a review copy for contributors.

Publishers are welcome to send us new publications pertaining Gender Studies. Please send review copies, review suggestions, queries or submissions to gender-forum”AT”uni-koeln.de.

Titles currently up for review (other suggestions welcome):

Barker, Joanne, editor. Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Duke UP, 2017.

Merish, Lori. Archives of Labor: Working-Class Women and Literary Culture in the Antebellum United States. Duke UP, 2017.

Dubowsky, Jack Curtis. Intersecting Film, Music, and Queerness. Palgrave Studies in Audio-Visual Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Francome, Colin. Unsafe Abortion and Women’s Health: Change and Liberalization. Routledge, 2015.

Jackson, David. Exploring Aging Masculinities. The Body, Sexuality and Social Lives. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Martschukat, Jürgen, and Olaf Stieglitz, editors. race&sex: Eine Geschichte der Neuzeit: Schlüsseltexte aus vier Jahrhunderten neu gelesen. Neofelis, 2016.

Mayock, Ellen. Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Peel, Elizabeth, and Rosie Harding. Ageing and Sexualities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Routledge, 2016.

Sayed Gadelrab, Sherry. Medicine and Morality in Egypt: Gender and Sexuality in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. I.B.Tauris, 2016.

Sina, Véronique. Comic – Film – Gender: Zur (Re-)Medialisierung von Geschlecht im Comicfilm. transcript, 2016.

Tarrant, Shira. Gender, Sex, and Politics: In the Streets and Between the Sheets in the 21st Century. Routledge, 2016.

The Year We Thought About Love. Dir. Ellen Brodsky. Village Films, 2015.

Walsh, Fintan. Queer Performance and Contemporary Ireland: Dissent and Disorientation. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.