[R5864] Understanding Millennial Generation of the Middle East

Created by Noha Ghali
Wednesday, 10/14/20 11:00 am


Understanding the Millennial Generation of the Middle East is a roundtable that emerged from the National Endowment for the Humanities summer workshop of 2019 held at the University of Arizona. The purpose of this roundtable is to engage the participants in a cross-disciplinary discussion of Middle East diversity and change through a focus on youth (young people from their late teens to early thirties) to provide especially important insights into Middle Eastern societies and the transformations they are undergoing. The fact that youth make up 60% of the population of most Middle Eastern countries indicates an important impact. Furthermore, their age and technological savvy ensure that their influence will continue and grow in the future.

The roundtable looks at the role of youth in different middle eastern and north African countries (MENA) in recent decades in bringing change and creating a new future for the region with respect to three main themes; comics, Arab women, and photography. This roundtable includes five presenters who discuss the contributions of millennials in searching for a better future. The first and second presenters discuss how millennials in Lebanon, Egypt, and Iran are increasingly turning to the graphic form (comics) to represent and navigate their experiences of political activism, familial legacies, and urban life, and to place themselves in conversations with other global comics creators. The theme of comics continues to be explored in Morocco with a focus on Zainab Fasiki, a Casablanca-based artist who uses comics to protest the high frequency of sexual harassment in Morocco, provide a platform for sex education, and create a safe space where Moroccans can discuss sexuality. Along similar lines, the theme of photography is explored by a third presenter in the work of two Iranian female photographers in depicting the millennials’ experience as well as the work of a Saudi pop artist showing the mixing of modern life with cultural legacy. The fourth and fifth presenters discuss the last theme which is on Arab millennial women. One presenter focuses on women’s political activism and their use of cyberspace as an arena to express themselves, exercise leadership, and protest male chauvinism, whether religious or secular, and the harassment of women. The other discusses Dubai as a context, providing unique opportunities and challenges to millennial women. Incorporating these themes into humanities courses and designing assignments to engage American students in a critical discussion about MENA countries will also be discussed.