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(Re)Conceptualizing the Field: Scholarship at the Margins of Islam and Gender


Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 1200 characters including spaces)

This workshop focuses on reconceptualizing the field of Islam and gender and Islamic studies more broadly through scholarship at or about the margins of these fields. The session is organized around 5 pre-circulated articles and chapters. Each table will focus on one paper and bring together the author, a facilitator, and interested readers. A broader discussion among all participants will finish the session. Attendees should choose and sign up for one of the five tables in advance and read the paper for discussion at that table prior to the session (accessible through the AAR website). Please contact Justine Howe ( to obtain access to the sign-up web form.


  • Abstract

    This paper focuses on a particular aspect of applying gender and queer theory to pre-modern hadith collections and biographical works--how to read figures who do not fit into "our" cisnormative and heteronormative assumptions about the past, and what the implications for historically accurate understandings of the ways that gender operates in such texts are. Such figures are typically treated as a specialized and minor topic which can be ignored when discussing gender in general terms in pre-modern Muslim texts. An unfortunate result is that the erroneous impression that these sources present what Fatima Seedat aptly terms a "straightened tradition" is perpetuated. Through the use of several examples, this paper demonstrates that in fact, references to or depictions of gender minority as well as gender nonnormative figures can perform important types of cultural labour. Gender minority and gender nonnormative figures play noteworthy roles in these textual constructions of other genders and claims to hegemonic masculinity, as well as of ritual spaces, household order, social status, intracommunal boundaries, and religious authority.

  • Abstract

    To contextualize the idea of shari‘ah-based arbitration, I begin the chapter by discussing the term “shari‘ah” and different scholars’ views about formulating Islamic law. I then analyze the ways opponents and proponents inadequately engaged shari‘ah, albeit for different reasons. I examine critics’ resistance to actually engaging shari‘ah and its consequences for those women who would employ shari‘ah-based arbitration to settle their family disputes. In a similar vein, I note how supporters neither adequately delineated how they would employ the proposed shari‘ah tribunals nor sufficiently worked to allay critics’ concerns or give adequate information about their own stances on certain questions, especially as the public debates heightened. Because of this, it remains difficult to fully examine their position. To advance an independent analysis concerning divorce and inheritance issues—precisely those that the shari‘ah tribunals were intended to undertake—I articulate a Qur’ānic perspective that might chart out a possible alternative (another “missed opportunity” in these debates). In the last section, I discuss why it is important that Muslims continue to summon shari‘ah law.

  • Abstract

    As the study of Islam and Islam and Gender steadily grow, key methodological questions continue to challenge the ?eld. A foundational question is to what extent should methods in Islamic Studies that return to Orientalist and colonial traditions of knowledge production and power continue to remain dominant in the ?eld? Another is how should scholars of the classical period approach texts, scholars and interpretations that are explicitly or implicitly patriarchal? More recently, added to these questions are new foundational questions about normativity, the place of lived Muslim communities in the study of Islam, and the importance of incorporating methodologies from other disciplines such as Gender Studies, Anthropology and Sociology. Some of these inquiries and challenges have been highlighted recently in an article by Ayesha Chaudhry entitled, 'Islamic Legal Studies: A Critical Historiography.' In it, she challenges dominant methodologies in the ?eld and suggests a new form of Islamic Studies, Intersectional Islamic Studies. In a response article by Sohaira Siddiqui entitled, 'Good Scholarship/Bad Scholarship: The Consequences of the Heuristic of Intersectional Islamic Studies,' she critiques Chaudhry's article and argues that instead of solving the problem of power and hegemony, Chaudhry's suggestion threatens to usher in a new form of it. Both articles engage in these foundational debates but seem to point towards a growing cleavage within the ?eld of Islamic Studies and Islam and Gender that merits further focused discussion. The aim of this roundtable will be to read these two articles alongside one another and discuss their interventions and consequences for the larger ?eld.

  • Abstract

    This article brings an anthropology of ethics to bear on a case of forced migration and displacement among Syrian refugee women in Jordan. This case reveals how projects of Islamic self-making in displacement become “emplacement” processes within the new state-mediated context. This case reveals that Syrian women in Jordan engage in Islamic self-making as part of their wider emplacement practices in two primary ways: first, operating more publicly in the material world through Islamically-inspired actions and rituals than in Syria. Second, utilizing narratives of Islamic histories to establish dignity in conditions of precarity in exile. Using two focus groups in urban Jordan and participant observation in two religion classes in a refugee camp, this paper focuses on these practices of Islamic self-making that serve an important role in the projects of moral emplacement for Syrian women in the Jordanian context.

  • Abstract

    Book workshop: Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia (University of California Press). The book challenges the prevailing common sense associated with calls for women’s and girls’ education and argues that such advocacy is not simply about access to education but, more crucially, concerned with producing ideal Muslim woman-/girl-subjects with specific relationships to the patriarchal family, paid work, Islam, and the nation-state. Thus, discourses on girls’/ women’s education are sites for the construction of not only gender but also class relations, religion, and the nation. The book is a genealogy of the figure of the educated girl which centers on three moments in the history of colonial India and Pakistan. For this workshop I am proposing the chapter that examines Urdu periodicals and policy documents published during the early decades after the political independence of Pakistan in 1947. The ideal educated girl in this chapter appears as a ‘future-mother’ who fulfils her responsibility to the nation as a biological and cultural producer of the next generation of citizens.

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Session Length

2 Hours

Schedule Preference Other

Saturday, 9:00-11:00 am : Saturday, 12:30-2:30 pm
Schedule Info

Saturday, 9:00 AM-11:00 AM (Virtual)

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