The Arab Institute for Women

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Panel on: “Mapping the Production of Knowledge on Women and Gender in the Arab Region”

On February 20, 2023, The AiW, in collaboration with the Arab Council for Social Sciences (ACSS), hosted a panel titled “Mapping the Production of Knowledge (MPK) on Women and Gender in the Arab Region.” The panel discussion, which served as a soft launching of the MPK project, presented the team’s preliminary results of the knowledge mapping exercise which critically reviews and collects, under the thematic of socialities, all the published work, scholarly sources/information/data on women and gender in the Arab region since the 1970s. MPK is a project of the University of California Davis Arab Region Consortium (UCDAR), in partnership with ACSS, funded by the Open Society Foundation-Amman, and supported by the Ford Foundation.

In an opening statement, Director of The AiW, Ms. Myriam Sfeir, welcomed Dr. Suad Joseph, her team, and the attendees, and emphasized the importance of the MPK project initiative for the development of future research on women and gender in the Arab region. Following Ms. Sfeir’s word, LAU President, Dr. Michel Mawad, warmly greeted Dr. Joseph by stressing on some of her many research contributions and joint collaborations with LAU and affirmed the university’s longstanding commitment to advance women’s rights – it being its very raison d’être. Finally, Founding Director of ACSS, Dr. Seteney Shami, introduced the organization’s research projects, competitive grants and fellowships, and highlighted the long-term impact of its partnership initiative with the MPK working group.

Dr. Joseph ushered the panel discussion with a brief overview of the project’s rationale, objectives, and desired impact on gender knowledge mapping in the Arab region. As she explained, the research team has developed a preliminary index of academic articles and is continuously carrying out scoping, systematic, qualitative, and critical research reviews to create a well-founded database which will facilitate the access of researchers to academic sources and support them in their quest for key findings and analyses on women and gender in the Arab region.

Following Dr. Joseph, every member of the research team revisited the database’s contribution to the mapping of knowledge. For instance, Dr. Martina Rieker (The American University in Cairo) reconsidered the database’s mapping methodology and explored the different themes, categories and qualitative reviews dominating scholarly work on women and gender in the Arab region. Then, Dr. Zina Sawaf (Lebanese American University) explained the project’s contribution to understanding the geopolitical dimensions of knowledge production and the change/reemergence of terminologies, theories, and methodologies on women and gender over time. Following Dr. Sawaf, Dr. Lena Meari (Birzeit University) underpinned the importance of implementing a mapping exercise in a heterogeneous context like the Arab region to better identify the development of knowledge on women and gender through a historical and comparative approach.

In a brief recap, Dr. Nawar Al-Hassan Golley (American University of Sharjah) presented a general overview of the database’s six interdisciplinary sub thematic areas which include: (1) Class, Race, Minority, Ethnicity, Tribe, Family, Kin Care, Work, Social Networks; (2) Media and Popular Culture; (3) Religion; (4) Sexuality and the Body; (5) Social Consequences of War, Displacement, Migration, Violence, and Precarity; and (6) Space. Similarly, Joanna Abillama (Lebanese American University) and Christie Choueiri (American University of Beirut) shared graphical and statistical illustrations of the mapping’s aforementioned sub themes to analyze the unfolding of research trends in different time periods. Finally, Dr. Zina Zaarour (Birzeit University) offered a quick tour of the database’s website.

The panel discussion represented a unique opportunity for students and academics to learn more about the production of knowledge on women and gender in the Arab region. The launching of the database is expected to foster learning partnerships among different researchers in the Arab region. 

The panel discussion concluded with a short Q&A session.