ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
Quick hits from my reading list:

Egypt, the IMF, and Europe. A policy paper by Farah Halime, whose blog is a great resource on Middle Eastern economics for folks (like me) who want to incorporate thinking on economic issues into our work without being, ourselves, experts in economics. (I am still confused how I fell into doing political economy work at this particular moment in time.) The ongoing disaster that is Egypt's economy, and how it relates to the world economic system, isn't nearing a resolution, but this paper neatly lays out what's going on in Egyptian politics and economics that's making negotiating with the IMF so difficult, and what the policy problems with loans are going to be. (It's not anti-loan or anti-IMF, but it does acknowledge the multiple issues with loans and their consequences--more reformist than radical.)

The Anatomy of Protest in Egypt and Tunisia. The Arab Barometer project is the best collection of cross-national quantitative data on public opinion in the Arab world; as a qualitative researcher, I'm always glad when someone else has collected high-quality quant data that I can use in a glancing manner when I need some of it, so I don't have to. Here, three of the researchers associated with the project lay out some conclusions about protesters in Egypt and Tunisia during the revolutions. The centrality of economic and anti-corruption concerns for protesters stands out, as does the relative lack of interest in Islamist transformation, and the lower interest in civil and political rights.

Engaging the Haitian Diaspora. The Caribbean countries are some of the most important and most-studied cases of diaspora political involvement, and the details of the Haitian diaspora's demographics recounted in this article are fascinating, and demonstrate why diaspora political and economic engagement is so important in this case. I'm also glad to see more stuff not about the Middle East coming from the Cairo Review, which is a brilliant new(-ish) journal from AUC.

What is Tuz? Storytelling from the Queer Arab Diaspora. I haven't listened to this yet--in fact, I rarely listen to podcasts and radio shows, because I am weird and prefer to assimilate new information by reading, rather than listening--but it seems really awesome. And makes me miss NYC.

Explanation is Not the Point: Domestic Work, Islamic Dawa and Becoming Muslim in Kuwait (PDF) This brilliant article by Attiya Ahmad on migrant domestic workers' conversions to Islam in Kuwait is fascinating as a piece of ethnography, and insightful as an exploration of what 'conversion' means in different cultural contexts. I'm particularly interested in it because I'm returning to an old project on the construction of an idea of preference for Muslim domestic workers in Gulf countries, and this comments interestingly on the subject in one of the footnotes. (Also, because of my obsession with everything related to Kuwait ever. KUWAIT.)
ajnabieh: Happy woman with broom: FIGHT ALL THE OPPRESSIONS; same woman, dejected, "Fight ALL the oppresssions?" (ALL the oppressions?)
I am watching two political struggles going on today. The first is the attempt to get the New York State Senate to pass a bill allowing same-sex marriage. The second is the "Women 2 Drive" protest in Saudi Arabia, where dozens of women who hold international driver's licenses are driving in violation of the law. (Check the Twitter hashtag if you want to see what's going down right now, on 6/17.)

The differences here are obvious and striking. One is about negotiating within a highly fractious electoral public, and mobilizing constituent power for and against a political position that's at the center of ongoing debates. The other is about civil disobedience against an authoritarian government, in the hopes of mustering transnational support for a change in policy. But what I keep coming back to is that both of these struggles are about symbolic rights.

I support both these demands. In fact, I'm spending a lot of my time engaged in the one that's happening in my home state (*ahem*). And I think the Saudi protest is pretty amazing, considering precisely how hard it is to mobilize any action at all in KSA. By calling these "symbolic rights," I'm not trying to diminish the importance of the claim, nor the strength of those making it.

But the centrality of driving to Saudi women's protest is largely about its symbolic value. Of all the injustices that Saudi women cope with--an enforced dress code, highly segregated work opportunities, unequal access to marriage and divorce, etc--driving seems relatively minor by comparison. And yet, it isn't: it's a daily insult to their personhood that, despite being autonomous adults with responsibilities and roles in the world, they have to be driven around like ten year olds going to soccer practice. The symbolic injustice so rankles that it becomes a mobilizing force for change.

I feel similarly about marriage. Frankly, in the world where I am philosopher-king, there would be no state-recognized marriages. 'Marriage' would be a purely social bond, which people could enter into or not enter into as they saw fit, in whatever configurations they felt appropriate. Simultaneously, the state would allow people to formally establish family relationships (among couples raising children, friends collectively supporting each other, siblings caring for an elderly parent, etc) which would provide for legal rights such as hospital visitation, tax benefits for providing unpaid caring work, rights of survivorship, etc. Being 'married' would be one thing. Being a legal unit would be another.

I don't get to be philosopher-king, so that's not how it works. But, even in this world, marriage isn't the battle I would put first of all my queer rights. I'd rather we were fighting harder for non-discrimination legislation, for the inclusion of material on LGBT issues in educational institutions, to make it easier for trans people to legally transition, and for rights to adoption and parenthood. And, frankly, I am married--I've got the white dress and the credit card debt to prove it, and anybody who tries to tell me I'm not is both empirically wrong and a douche of epic proportions, as far as I'm concerned.

And yet, it rankles whenever I look at my "legal docs" file, and realize that I have to have a will, a power of attorney, a health care proxy, and a living will to give my wife the same rights that straight couples get merely for registering their relationship. It rankles when I say "my wife" and people respond "your partner." (No disrespect to the many same-sex and opposite-sex couples I know who use partner; I think it's a good word. It's just not mine.) And, yes, it rankles that if I were an infertile man, my name would be on my son's birth certificate as his father even though he was conceived with donor sperm, but because I'm a woman I had to drop thousands of dollars and collect letters of reference to earn the right to be his legal parent.

The insult to me, and to thousands of queers like and unlike me, is enough that it's worth fighting for. And the massive insult that the Republican caucus can't even decide to bring this to a vote--and that thousands of people are mobilized to condemn my relationship--well, that makes me want to get a big angry sign and go yell at somebody, long and loud.

The deep political insight here is the one that Axel Honneth makes so clearly in his work--that the vast majority of injustices that people experience are injustices based in misrecognition, the sense that something crucial and important about yourself is being disregarded, misinterpreted, or silenced in social interactions. And the more daily one is that disrespect is a key experience of being an oppressed group within a society. Symbolic victories are real, because they undo this disrespect, and counter with the sort of recognition that make societies possible.

So, yes, I'm cheering for the women in Saudi who are driving through the streets, and hoping for their safety. Yes, I'm dropping emails to state senators, bombarding my poor Facebook friends with action links, and endlessly refreshing New York 1's website. Because symbolic rights are rights nonetheless, and we all deserve them.

And you know if the law passes, my ass is getting married. Again.
ajnabieh: Palestinian flag in front of billboard for the movie Prince of Persia.   (prince of persia)
This message brought to you from deep within the hinterland of Dissertation-Revision-Land. At least I managed to find that ACS data pull that I needed to run two more distributions on, right? Right?

Quran-burning pastor: Plan to visit Dearborn opposed - Detroit Free Press

OH FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER NO. I wish I had something more coherent to say on this topic, but it's just going to come down to flaily-hands at the moment.

Two Poems by Rashid Hussein - Jadaliyya

And this is why Jadaliyya is awesome: new translations of poems by one of the best literary translators in the biz, for free, on my RSS feed. The poems in this post are posted to commemorate Yom al-'Ard, Land Day, one of the major Palestinian nationalist holidays. Without a Passport, the second passport, is the more effective of the two, IMHO.

Is Egypt ready for "Queer"? - Bekhsoos

A little contemplatory piece on being out and queer in the revolutionary Middle East. This section in particular struck me:

When attending the Women’s Day protest, I noticed a significant number of gay people present (both men and women). The men present were accused of being “faggots”, and bore equal – if not greater – hostility than the women beside them. In the same way that acknowledging women’s role in society threatens male dominance, the notion of diverging sexualities is not just socially taboo, but also a challenge to the prevalent misogyny which informs attitudes to male-female relationships.

Tahrir Documents

ZOMG SO AWESOME. This is a translation project working on producing English versions (and digital copies) of the emphemeral discourse of revolutionary Egypt. Basically, I am in total geekgasm mode over this stuff--and I wish my Arabic were better so I could be helping out.

What Wasn't Said at Senator Durbin's Hearing on "The State of Muslim Civil Rights in the US" - Erik Lov @ Jadaliyya

Compared to the reporting that Peter King's hearings got, I hadn't heard a thing about Durbin's response until this article. Color me shocked that the Islamphobic fear-mongering dramatics of King beat out an evaluation of actual threats to an American minority community. *rolling my eyes FOREVER*

The Cute Cat Theory Talk at ETech - Ethan Zuckerman

Probably people have heard this before, but I have to admit that I enjoyed it. Favorite quote:

I’d offer the hypothesis that any sufficiently advanced read/write technology will get used for two purposes: pornography and activism. Porn is a weak test for the success of participatory media – it’s like tapping a mike and asking, “Is it on?” If you’re not getting porn in your system, it doesn’t work. Activism is a stronger test – if activists are using your tools, it’s a pretty good indication that your tools are useful and usable.

Rescue the Revolution: Notes from Cairo - Michael C. Hudson @ Middle East Channel

As exciting as the fall of Mubarak was, Egypt's revolution can't be over yet; it's going to be a long time before we know what will come of post-Tahrir Egypt. A good piece of reporting from on the ground in Tahrir now.
ajnabieh: Happy woman with broom: FIGHT ALL THE OPPRESSIONS; same woman, dejected, "Fight ALL the oppresssions?" (ALL the oppressions?)
Oof, it's been a hard semester so far. Chalk it up to a six-week-long illness (which I'm almost recovered from), accompanied by the momentous task of finishing the first draft of my dissertation. I feel a bit better now, I have to admit.

So I'm going to be posting more now! I hope! I plan!

In any case, I wanted to put this out there. On March 1, I participated in an amazing panel organized by Global Studies at the New School, entitled Coming Out in the Developing World: Insurgent Queer Identities in the Middle East. I'll fully admit, I was a last-minute pinch hitter; queer issues in the Middle East are less of a serious research interest for me, and more like a hobby-slash-political-interest. However, it was a tremendous pleasure to be on the panel.

I know that a recording of the event was made, but I can't seem to find it publicly available. However, I wrote up my talk beforehand, rather than improvising as is my wont, so I do have my text. I don't think I gave it exactly as written (who does?), but the main points are all there. I've tried to link to all of the websites that I used images from for my PowerPoint, but it's possible I missed something, or did it awkwardly; please comment if there's anything that doesn't make sense!

Progressive LGBT Activism in Lebanon: Meem, Helem, and Transnational Queer Politics )

Lazy Links

May. 21st, 2010 07:24 pm
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
I am just finishing up my grading for the semester, which means I'm rather on the edge about everything--it's a period of high burnout and frustration. (Though, thank you, student who titled your response paper "My Final Response Paper: What I’ve learned of Resistance and an Opportunity to Call Out People Who Believe in Radical Semiotics," for making me feel better for quite a while.) So, here are some linky links. How lazy am I going to be? I'm not even going to bother to code them. DW will make them clickable via magic, right? Awesome.


This has nothing to do with Arab-Americans, but it is made of awesome.

Assorted: includes stuff on media studies, Arabic literature, queer stuff, health stuff, Israeli/Palestinian conflict stuff )

Special section on Rima Fakih, because the party don't stop )


ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
Ajnabieh - The Foreigner

March 2016

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