GRADUATE STUDENT STUDY ABROAD NOTE
by Duygu Yeni
Ph.D student, Department of Religion
In Summer 2015 I was fortunate enough to take the SU Study Abroad
Course Global Perspectives, Local
Contexts: Women and
Gender in the
Arab World, taught
jointly by Prof. Carol Fadda-Conrey from the Department of English and Prof. Dana M. Olwan from
Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.
I want to thank them for all their hard work that made this life-changing class possible. I also take this as an opportunity to recognize the support
of, and to thank,
the Department of Religion for the Summer
Fellowship and Graduate
Research Award, and the Middle Eastern Studies Program and the Moynihan
Institute for the Road to Democracy Award.
I also want to thank the SU Study Abroad
Of- fice for their
help in facilitating international travel. Most
of all, I want to thank the host
Lebanese American University and the University of Jordan, for their warm welcome and hospitality, and the local
and national non-governmental organizations for their
time and for sharing their work with us.
This experience has been radically
transformative for me both as a religion
scholar in the making and as a Ph.D. student
from Turkey studying in the U.S. My work focuses on gen-
der and sacred
texts, and is informed by feminist and postcolonial theory.
I am particularly interested in the MENA region,
and in exploring reflections of women’s
struggles in femi- nist and religious studies
scholarship. The experiences and contributions of Arab women are
and have been an indispensible component of this literature. Yet, before
this class, I only
read those articles, books, and news about Arab women. I read them in English
from thousands of miles
away. This class gave me the opportunity to be in Beirut and Amman
and to recognize the diversity within the Arab world while learning about
gender politics in these geographies and their particular histories. It is a privilege to be physically in the spaces you
read about and to share
the space with
the people you read about.
Such an experience in itself
is a very effective tool to challenge dominant assumptions and stereo-
types about the Arab world.
Besides providing analytical tools to address
intersectional and interdisciplinary approach of the course is also helping
me construct the theoretical orientation for my dissertation project.
I look at women and gender questions as a multilayered subject
shaped by local,
national, and global
power dynamics. This class was also very helpful
for networking and building bridges
with academic institutions.