Some of the world’s leading scholars, activists and experts on gender in the Middle East will speak at the “Transnational Perspectives on the Middle East, North Africa and Beyond: Gender Conflicts and Social Transformations,” symposium from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26, at California State University, Northridge.
Free and open to the public, the symposium will bring global insights into how women and girls are responding to increasing violence and extremism in the Middle East. It is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and sponsored by CSUN’s Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (MEIS) program, the Departments of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies, as well as CSUN’s Institute of Gender, Globalization and Democracy.
The symposium’s theme is designed to reflect the most timely and urgent matters in the Middle East and North Africa, said Nayereh Tohidi, CSUN gender and women’s studies professor and director of the MEIS program. Tohidi is a world-renowned scholar and activist for human and women’s rights in Iran, and a former consultant to the United Nations on projects concerning gender, development and women and civil society building in the Middle East and post-Soviet Eurasia.
“When it comes to the unfortunate aftermath of the Arab Spring in some countries, rather than leading to democracy, it has — hopefully only in the short term — led to chaos, inter-ethnic conflicts, tribalism, civil war and the polarization of society,” Tohidi said.
Experts will discuss topics such as: Islam and women in central Asia; Afghan women confronting jihad; Iranian feminism after the 2009 uprising; violence against women in Syria; Islam, Muslims and hip-hop; and Muslim women’s activism in the United States. Some of the scholars include Cal State Long Beach professor Maryam Qudrat, who is the former director of the Social Institutions Department of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C.; Sherifa Zuhur, former director of the Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies; and Asli Bali, professor of law at UCLA and a member of the Human Rights Watch Advisory Committee for the Middle East and North Africa division.
Tohidi said people are becoming increasingly interested in the Middle East. She said she hopes that the symposium will help students and the larger community gain more awareness of some of the most burning issues, and expand their horizons to include global and transnational perspectives.
“I want students to move beyond simplistic news bites and to problematize some stereotypes they might have in their minds,” Tohidi said. “In this era of globalization, Americans, unfortunately, know little to nothing outside of the United States — or even California. If you don’t understand the world, you can’t understand your own community well. It is important to think globally and act locally.”
The event will be held at the Whitsett Room in Sierra Hall 451. For more information, contact Nayereh Tohidi at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (818) 677-7218.