Religious beliefs and norms have traditionally played a significant role in determining the status of women in the family and their participation in the life of society in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). But, considering the diverse religious landscape of MENA, what do we know about similarities and differences in women’s status across religious communities? What other factors besides religion influence women’s experiences? How does the effect of economic position compare with the effect of social class in the West? What about ethnicity? In this course, we study the changing status and roles of women in MENA from 1800 to the present. Our study includes a brief historical survey of the topic across the region. We then focus on specific geographic areas and themes in the modern period. While paying attention to religious and cultural values and traditions, we consider ethnic and national diversity, economic structures, as well as the role of Westernizing and Islamist states in shaping women’s lives. Carol Pal will sign for this course.
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