Body, Medicine, and Feminism: The Life and Work of Nawal El Saadawi

CALL FOR PAPERS

An International Conference

Duke University

March 21-22, 2022

The Arab world’s leading feminist activist and writer, Nawal El Saadawi died on Sunday March 21. She was 89. Author of 50 books, Dr. El Saadawi worked first as a physician in a small town on the River Nile north of Cairo before turning her attention fulltime to writing. She often said that she cured more sick people with her novels than with her medical practice. But it was her relatively short experience in the rural clinic that influenced and shaped her decades-long career in writing and political activism. Every one of her novels, memoirs and monographs focuses on the body, especially women’s bodies, in pain. From Woman at Point Zero to Memoirs from a Women’s Prison to the Fall of the Imam and the first two volumes of her autobiography Daughter of Isis and Walking through Fire, Dr. El Saadawi compelled her readers to observe how women everywhere suffer physical and emotional abuse. The hope driving her writing was that this awareness would lead to social change. This urgent demand for change exposed her to danger and death threats. Between 1993 and 1997, Dr. El Saadawi spent four years at Duke University. With her husband Sherif Hetata she sheltered there after Islamists in Egypt published Nawal El Saadawi in the Witness Box, a widely available, cheap book that made the case that this “heretic” should be put to death.

We invite papers that consider the role of the body and medicine in Dr. El Saadawi’s oeuvre, but also papers dedicated to the spirit of her work and thought. The conference will coincide with a special issue of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies devoted to medicine and feminist practice in the Middle East, with the journal’s Third Space section devoted to the memory of Dr. El Saadawi.

October 1         250 word abstracts due to the Duke Middle East Studies Center griffin.orlando@duke.edu

December 1      Announcement of accepted papers

February 20      Papers due

Conference Sponsors:

Duke University Middle East Studies Center, UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, Duke Department of Asian & Middle East Studies, Association of Middle East Women’s Studies, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies

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