AKU-ISMC Book Launch: Gender, Governance and Islam

Layal Mohammad's picture
October 17, 2019
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Islamic History / Studies, Law and Legal History, Religious Studies and Theology, Women's & Gender History / Studies


Join us for a panel discussion by the editors followed by a reception to celebrate the launch of AKU-ISMC’s new book: 


Gender, Governance and Islam” edited by Deniz Kandiyoti, Nadje Al-Ali and Kathryn Spellman Poots.



Deniz Kandiyoti - Gender, Governance and Islam


Introducing the key themes of the book which was compiled against a global backdrop of mounting culture wars in the realms of gender, family and sexuality, Deniz Kandiyoti will discuss its aims to unsettle and interrogate the key conceptual categories through which the politics of gender in Muslim-majority countries and Muslim diasporas have been commonly apprehended. It does so through finely-grained analyses of a continuum of cases: fragmented societies that are in the grip of ongoing conflict such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine (that are characterised by more direct interventions by global governance institutions), Pakistan that has been directly affected by conflict, Turkey and Egypt that have undergone popular unrest and regime change and the “Islamic” regimes in Saudi Arabia and Iran that have undergone major transformations. The particular alignments of changing geo-politics, the inroads made by international gender platforms, their instrumental use (and misuse) by power holders, the stakes of diverse Islamic actors in the politics of gender and patterns of grass-roots mobilisation and resistance are illustrated with reference to selected cases. Efforts to enforce gender hierarchies and uphold male entitlement on the one hand, and diverse patterns of grassroots resistance and (periodic accommodation by power holders), on the other, cut across all cases. A key conclusion is that this is a uniquely productive moment to de-Orientalise scholarship on gender in Muslim societies by breaking the shackles of lingering binaries such as tradition/modernity, Islam/secularism, imperialism/national authenticity.

Nadje Al-Ali - Beyond Imperialism: Gender Politics, Authoritarianism and Feminist Resistance

Nadje Al-Ali will discuss the centrality of gender politics in understanding the emergence of and resistance to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and beyond. She will address the importance of recognising local, national and regional factors when analysing instances of gender-based violence in Muslim-majority contexts which constitutes one of the central arguments of the edited volume. While referring to broader points raised in the book, her talk will focus on Iraq. In the context of a failed state and continuous conflict, or rather multi-conflicts, gender norms and relations have been used as bargaining chips by both state and non-state actors. While we certainly need to acknowledge that imperialism and global neo-liberal economics had devastating effects on Iraqi society, she will argue that it is problematic to explain away the on-going political and humanitarian crisis in Iraq and the devastating gendered consequences simply by referring to USA and UK policies and interventions. Local constituencies and forces need to be recognised as important drivers of violence and authoritarian politics.

Kathryn Spellman Poots - Islam: Geopolitical Conjunctures, Transnational Networks and Diasporas 

How did Islam accrue new and shifting political meanings in the era of the “War on Terror” and of rapidly shifting policies vis a vis Muslim diasporas and migrants in the West? Kathryn Spellman Poots explores this question in relation to the rising prominence of “Muslim” self- and group-identification in both pre- and post-9/11. This includes the rise of political Islam, the monitoring of Muslim diasporic communities and the more recent rise of anti-Islam rhetoric in the post-Brexit and Trump era. She argues that gender roles, gender relations and body politics have been key ingredients in the making of a so-called “Muslim Diaspora”. In an era of blatant Islamophobia and rising male-centred authoritarianism, she contends that women’s advocacy and activist practices face new challenges in navigating the best avenues to push forth their agendas both locally and transnationally. She calls for a renewed sensitivity to local contexts within studies of transnationalism, and greater attention to the obstacles that relate to shifting communal boundaries and specific political, social and material logics within diasporic communities.



Deniz Kandiyoti is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at SOAS University of London. Her publications include Fragments of Culture: The Everyday of Modern Turkey (with A. Saktanber; I.B. Tauris 2002), Gendering the Middle East (I.B. Tauris 1996) and Women, Islam and the State (Macmillan 1991).


Nadje Al-Ali is Robert Family Professor of International Studies and Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies at Brown University. Her publications include Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present (Zed Books 2007); What Kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq (with N. Pratt; University of California Press 2009) and Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East: The Egyptian Women’s Movement (CUP 2000).


Kathryn Spellman Poots is Associate Professor at AKU-ISMC and Visiting Associate Professor at Columbia University. Her publications include The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: The Arab Spring and Beyond (with P. Werbner and M. Webb; EUP/AKU-ISMC 2014), Ethnographies of Islam: Ritual Performances and Everyday Practices (with B. Dupret, T. Pierret, P.G. Pinto; EUP/AKU-ISMC 2012) and Religion and Nation: Iranian Local and Transnational Networks in London (Berghahn 2004). 

Time and Venue

Thursday 17 October 2019, 18.00-20.00
Room 215, 2nd floor,
Aga Khan Centre,
10 Handyside Street,
London N1C 4DN


This event is free but booking is essential. Book as soon as possible.


"Gender, Governance and Islam" will also be launched in the US at Brown University on 9 November 2019 and Columbia University on 11 November 2019. 



Contact Info: 


Layal Mohammad

Coordinator, Marketing, Communications and Professional Programmes

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

The Aga Khan University (International)

Aga Khan Centre, 10 Handyside Street, London N1C 4DN