When women took to the streets during the mass protests of the Arab Spring, the subject of feminism in the Middle East and North Africa returned to the international spotlight. In the subsequent years, countless commentators treated the region’s gender inequality as a consequence of fundamentally cultural or religious problems. In so doing, they overlooked the specifically political nature of these women’s activism. Moving beyond such culturalist accounts, this book turns to the relations of power in regional and international politics to understand women’s struggles for their rights.
Based on over a hundred extensive personal narratives from women of different generations in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, Nicola Pratt traces women’s activism from national independence through to the Arab uprisings, arguing that activist women are critical geopolitical actors. Weaving together these personal accounts with the ongoing legacies of colonialism, Embodying Geopolitics demonstrates how the production and regulation of gender is integrally bound up with the exercise and organization of geopolitical power, with consequences for women’s activism and its effects.