Call for Papers: Lesbian Subjectivity in the Arab World

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The subject of lesbianism has rarely been addressed in the Arab world on the assumption that it is not a priority, or that ‘there are no lesbians in our culture’, or that some women ‘become’ lesbians due to some negative experiences or imposed sexual segregation, thus conveying an implicit message that lesbians can or should be heteronormalized once women’s circumstances change. All these assumptions and misconceptions tend to deny the existence of an independent lesbian subjectivity that demands different priorities, ethics, rights and politics. The emergence of literature on ‘female homosexuality’ during the past few years constitutes a huge leap in gender and sexuality studies.

This special issue of Al-Raida is intended to shed light on the problematic position of the lesbian in Arab cultures on various interdisciplinary levels. It is also intended to question the politics of love and friendships in the Arab cultures, in an attempt to examine the perplexing position of the lesbian subjectivity and the perils of “coming” out of the complicated Arab closets. The future of lesbian studies in Women’s Studies and Gender Programs in the Arab countries is a question that needs to be answered within the context of this issue. One of the key questions that this special issue will address is the extent to which the lesbian identity can become a recognized reality and a perceived lifestyle without provoking the latent homophobia of the Arab World which still regards gender identity, sexual identity and sexual orientation as alien to the values of ‘Our Culture’.

We are interested in receiving academic studies and critical essays pertaining to the topic outlined above. Topics may include but are not restricted to:

  • The essentialist/constructionist debates about the lesbian sexuality in the Arab world.
  • Is there a lesbian Arabic literature?
  • Theorizing the Arab lesbian.
  • Historical perspectives on female same-sex relations in the Arab cultures.
  • Images of female same-sex relations in Arab media: clichés and stereotypes.
  • Arab lesbians in cyberspace (websites, online magazines and discussion groups).
  • The problematic position of lesbians in Arab NGOs between human rights and women’s rights.
  • The possibility of integrating lesbian Studies in the Arab Academia.
  • ‘Lesbian autobiography’: obstacles and challenges.
  • The impact of transnational feminism on lesbian activism in the region.
  • Lesbianism in Arab religious and legal discourses.
  • Body images and self-representation: lesbian masculinities and femininities.
  • Arab lesbians between the historical perception of female homosexuality and the post-modern perception of the ‘Queer’ identity.
  • Resisting heterosexual stereotypes and linguistic homophobia.
  • Examining heteronormativity in the Arab feminist discourse.

If you are interested in contributing to this issue of Al-Raida, kindly send your abstract (250-300 words) no later than June 20, 2011. All abstracts submitted are reviewed by Al-Raida’s editorial staff and are subject to its approval. Once the abstract is approved contributors will have to submit their paper no later than September 20, 2011. Submissions are accepted in English, Arabic or French. All non-English submissions will be translated by IWSAW and published in English following the approval of the author.

This special issue will be edited by Dr. Iman Al-Ghafari, an academic researcher who has extensive publications and contributions to the field of lesbian studies in the Arab cultures. Kindly send your emails simultaneously to the managing editor, Ms. Myriam Sfeir, at and to the guest editor, Dr. Iman Al-Ghafari at,


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