[C5045] Sex & Sexualities in the Middle East and North Africa

Created by Angel M. Foster
Sunday, 11/19/17 1:00pm


This Thematic Conversation explores sex and sexualities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the ways they are -- and aren't -- represented in scholarship on the region. The Conversation will take up not only normative sexualities but also non-normative sexualities, including sexual, religious and ethnic minorities, non-heterosexual women and men, individuals whose bodies and lives reject binary gender categories, those who have premarital and extramarital relationships, and those who engage in remunerative or transactional sex.

Studying sex and sexualities focuses our attention to the 'microphysics' of power negotiations in gender relations in the MENA and the ways that new and emerging sexualities emerge from, and produce, new relations, social hierarchies, and imaginations of bodies, physiological processes, and morality. Participants will discuss social attitudes toward ideal and proscribed sexual behaviors and sexuality, assumptions about and challenges to normative gender roles, beliefs about families, cosmologies about the relationship between sexuality and an individual's relationship with God, and expectations about the role of government, security forces, religious experts, and medical authorities in individuals' sexual and reproductive lives. The study of sexuality and sexual health thus offers a unique vantage point for studying not only cultural attitudes towards religion, the state, and the body but also the structures through which religion, science, and the state compete for authority over individuals' sexual and reproductive lives. This Conversation, therefore, also takes up the politics of scholarship on sex and sexualities in the region and the relationship between research and activism.

Our first Conversation took place in 2015 and about 25 people participated; we explored issues related to sexual health and behaviors. During that initial discussion, the intersectional issue of remunerative and transactional sex emerged as a common theme among participants. We focused on this issue in 2016 and about 20 scholars participated. For our third installment, we will focus specifically on the way that masculinities and femininities influence sex, sexualities, sexual politics, and sexual dynamics. For this session, 10 identified scholars will speak for 3 minutes each on this topic before opening this up for facilitated group discussion. The topical area of masculinities/femininities constitutes the third part of the book that we edit from overarching project (press already identified).


We have secured some funding for this session from the Society of Family Planning.






    Lisa L. Wynn

    (Macquarie University)
    Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

    Angel M. Foster

    (University of Ottawa)
    Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer;