The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) has published the twenty fifth issue (Summer 2018) of its quarterly peer-reviewed journal Omran, a journal dedicated to the social sciences and humanities. This edition, entitled “Arab Women’s Movements in Men’s Cities”, includes various academic papers that tackle different angles of Arab women’s struggle and their adaptation to male-dominated institutions throughout the Levant and the Arab Maghreb. Additionally, this edition comprises four book reviews including a review of Andrea Komlosy’s Work: The Last 1,000 Years. Finally, the paintings featured in this issue of Omran include those by Syrian artist Ismail Nasra, whose paintings reflect the female figure in all her contexts and forms.
Critical Review of the Organizational Work of Arab Women
This edition’s Studies Section features two ethnographic papers that deal with the forms of women’s organizational work in Palestine and Iraq. Zahra Ali presents a paper exploring the roles played by Iraqi women since 2003 in non-governmental organizations, including organizational efforts that champion the defense of women’s rights. Her study "Feminisms in Iraq: Between NGOization, Ethnosectarian Violence and the Struggle for a Civil State" concludes that public corruption and the weakness of the Iraqi state prompted many Iraqi women's groups to rely on foreign or international funding instead of government funding. This, she argues, had an impact on their activities and programs and led to the emergence of an eloquent neo-liberal discourse that is disconnected from the tangible reality of Iraqi women, but that at the same time allows them to play a political role – albeit a limited one – in challenging the ethno-sectarian and corrupt nature of the political system post 2003.
Focusing on Palestine, Areen Hawari’s paper explores the discourse as well as the social and political activity of women leaders and activists within the Arab-Islamic Movement in Israel. Under the title “Between Religion, Gender, and the State: Women Leaders and Activists in the Islamic Movement within the Green Line”, this paper stresses the importance of analyzing the movement of women activists in the Islamic Movement, both northern and southern, within the context of colonial citizenship. This, she argues, has driven Islamic female activists to focus on the identity of individuals and society, disregarding the conflict with the colonial political system. Hawari notes that despite the high representation of women within the Islamic Movement institutions and associations, their representation within the frameworks of the party decision-making is almost non-existent. She concludes that the reason behind the absence of gender consciousness among women members of the Islamic Movement within the Green Line is their focus on the social Islamic project which avoids tackling politics.
Masculine Domination in Moroccan Popular Culture
Three further studies featured in this edition discuss marginalization and discrimination against women in Morocco and Algeria. First, Yassine Yassni explains the various forms of discrimination suffered by black Moroccan woman in Moroccan popular culture, reflected in official and private media outlets and in general practices. In his paper "The Status of Black Moroccan Women: Color and Gender Stigmas", Yassni highlights how black women’s experience of discrimination intersects with male domination and racism. He points out how Morocco was influenced by French cultural and intellectual trends, and how the lack of communication with black American women was reflected in the Moroccan feminist movement, which emerged as a white feminist elite. Yassni also points out that Moroccan women's tendencies, whether Islamic, leftist or liberal, had marginalized the issue of "color racism" in favor of discourse emphasizing the importance of the family (the Islamic trend) or class analysis (leftist tendencies).
In a different context, Mourad Jaddi presents an analysis of the image of Moroccan religious women in religious political discourse at various levels. In his paper "The Image of Religious Women in the Discourse of Moroccan Politico-Religious Actors", Jaddi states that all religious political discourses in Morocco, whether emanating from the government or from political Islam movements – and within a context of competition between them on who represents the religious field in Morocco – depict an inadequate and negative image of religious women. Jaddi concludes that the dominant fiqhi discourse, in its various sources, lacks a new vision that places gender relations at the core of its concerns, thus contributing to the reproduction and religious justification of the “Harem” system.
The last study under this theme is by Sabiha Kime who examines Algerian women’s illegal migration known as the "Harragat" phenomenon. Kime undertook an ethnographic study to understand the motives behind the illegal migration of Algerian women. Her study "Algerian Women’s Illegal Migration as an Act of Resistance: A Sociological Study of the Phenomenon of the Harragat", features case studies of the illegal migration of women, which for these omen often represents an escape and liberation and indicates the rejection of others, family estrangement, marginalization, physical and symbolic violence, and fear of the future. Kime postulates that the phenomenon of women's "Harragat" could be seen as a form of social resistance against masculine domination imposed by various patriarchal social institutions.
Theoretical Contributions in Gender Studies
Omran’s summer issue concludes with an article by Faouzi Boukhriss, in which he discusses the changes that led the French sociology of education to show interest in the relationship between the gender question and discrimination inside educational institutions. Boukhriss shows that until the 1990s, French sociology of education was dominated by an academic trend to explore the social system of education from a class analysis view. Boukhriss suggests that one of the reasons behind the silence on the gender question within French sociology of education was that Marxism had long been dominant and that the majority of researchers within this field were men. In his paper "Sociology of Education and the Question of Gender: From Social Inequalities to Gender Disparities", Boukhriss notes how the 1990s witnessed growing interest in the gender question within French sociology of education as reflected by Pierre Bourdieu's book on masculine domination.
The Welfare State in Iran and the Social Roots of the State in Jordan
The book review section includes four book reviews, two of which tackle the formation of the state in Iran and Jordan. Fatima Alsmadi reviews the book Social Revolution: Politics and the State of Welfarein Iran by Kevan Harris, who highlights the evolution of social welfare institutions in Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979. Hatem Alsarairah discusses a new book entitled The Struggle for State of Jordan by Jamie Allinson who discussed the formation of the modern state in Jordan.
Sabah Alnasseri reviewed the book by Andrea Komlosy: Work: The Last 1,000 Years, which is an important reference in understanding the evolution of the forms of labor and labor relations during the past ten centuries. Ahmad Iz Addin As’ad reviewed the book Jihad in the West: The Rise of Militant Salafism by Frazer Egerton, who analyses the social and cultural context of the evolution of the jihadist movement in Europe.
The journal can be purchased from the Omran website, where selected articles from previous issues are available for free download.