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CIR 2010 : The (Muslim) Woman Question: Competing Representations, Contested Futures


When May 10, 2010 - May 10, 2010
Where Yale University, New Haven, CT
Submission Deadline Jan 25, 2010
Categories    islam   feminism   representation   activism

Call For Papers

Yale’s Critical Islamic Reflections committee invites scholars and professionals from all fields to submit proposals for our 9th annual conference, “The (Muslim) Woman Question: Competing Representations, Contested Futures.” This interdisciplinary forum will explore the politics of representation vis-à-vis women and gender in Islam and interrogate how representations of and by Muslim women may influence political futures.

Description and Aims of Conference:

As we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century, global media continue to traffic in representations of Muslim women, while representations produced by Muslim women are gaining international traction. Contemporary discussions around the role of Islam in foreign and domestic policy, civil society and democracy, war, globalization, human rights, and the private sphere increasingly hinge upon the semiotics of gender. However, despite the race to represent—and through representation to understand—the Muslim woman, prevailing debates on gender and Islam remain trapped in neo-Orientalist discourses and occluded by political ideologies worldwide.

As symbols of both oppression and liberation, Muslim women have historically been agents of political change and subjects of restrictive state policies in the West as well as in Muslim-majority societies. Lively religious debates on gender and the challenges of modernity prevail at the confessional level within Muslim communities. These debates are recast into objects of consumption by audiences unacquainted with the breadth and complexity of the Islamic scriptural tradition.

This conference explores how representations of Muslim women within visual and material cultures and in historical and contemporary literatures inform popular imagination and public policy on Islam even as they are influenced by them. Presentations will explore not only how Muslim women have been represented and have engaged in practices of representation, but will critically examine the structures of power such representations may serve, subvert, create, negotiate, or complicate.

This conference has four central goals: 1) to further interdisciplinary discussions about women and Islam beyond the discursive plateau of American popular culture; 2) to anchor that discussion in particular representations, their politics and histories; 3) to explore how religious identities are formed alongside gendered ones; and 4) to explore how representations of the Muslim woman shape political activism and religious practice.

We welcome papers from all disciplines on topics including but not limited to:
- Invocations of Tradition in Contemporary Gender Debates
- Muslim Feminisms and Transnational Activism
- Muslim Women in Politics and Media Representations
- Mystico-Philosophical Conceptions of Femininity and Masculinity
- Sexuality, Reproduction, and the Body
- Depictions and Self-Depictions of Muslim Women
- Historical Perspectives on “The Woman Question”

Proposal Submission Guidelines

Please submit a 250-word abstract and author information to by January 25, 2010. The conference will take place at Yale University on April 10, 2010. Those selected to attend will be notified no later than March 1, 2010.

For further questions, please contact

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