[R4790] Competing Discourses of Masculinity in the Arab World

Created by Matthew Parnell
Saturday, 11/18/17 5:30pm


This roundtable aims at bringing together scholars from various disciplines to discuss competing notions and narratives of masculinity across the Middle East. We envision our meeting as providing participants an opportunity to debate the merits and pitfalls of modern masculinities and normative social/sexual order as well as the challenges of addressing alternative constructions and performances of masculinity. This roundtable will be interactive throughout the allotted time, addressing questions and comments as they pertain to the relationship between competing masculinities and--but not exclusively, transforming sociopolitical context, material culture, and hegemonic gender roles.

One panelist will discuss masculinity within Lebanese queer culture as complex and inextricably tied to the workings of hegemonic masculinity outside of it. This discussant argues that the young homosexual community is in search of a more “authentic” masculinity that reorganizes sexuality and challenges gendered assumptions, while making no attempts at radicalization. The second panelist works on the concept of the su?l?k (vagabond and outsider) as manifested in modern Iraqi poetry and the homosocial world they inhabit. The speaker will explore the lives and poetry of these men as act of rebellion against the social mores still relevant to Iraqi masculinity and sexuality today, especially in regards to the concept of heroism. Another participant will address the competing images of masculinity within the struggle for hegemony in Egypt during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This work explores how both British colonialists and Egyptian Nationalists utilized representations of masculinity to assert their claims of patriarchal authority over Egypt. The fourth discussant will address how right-wing American responses to discourses of masculinity and sexuality in the Arab world do not fall into the hetero/homo binary and thus have created a reverse discourse that seeks to encourage American hegemony in the Arab World. These reverse discourses, such as those used after the Orlando shooting, create an Orientalist image of LGBTIQ Arabs and Muslims that do not advocate for their rights, but encourage state violence against the countries in which they live. The final participant will discuss how material history can help deconstruct masculinity using as an example turn-of-the twentieth century Ottoman Beirut, where changes in the visual culture of men reveals an intersection between age, race and religion. This panelist analyzes the various terms of masculinity and shows how these modern terms transcend the ideological divisions of Ottomanism, Arab nationalism and other regional nationalisms.





Matthew Parnell

(American University in Cairo)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer; Presenter;

Suneela Mubayi

(Middle East-Islamic Studies, NYU)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Jedidiah Anderson

(Wofford College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Nicole Fares

(University of Arkansas)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Kathryn Kalemkerian

(McGill University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;