Middle East Women’s Activism digital archive is a collection of interviews with 96 women of different generations in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, which form the basis of a monograph, entitled, Embodying Geopolitics: Generations of Women’s Activism in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. All interviews were conducted by Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick, in 2013-2014 as part of a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship exploring the relationship between gender and geopolitics in the context of the Middle East. The research received approval from the University of Warwick Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee and consent was given at the time of interview to make this material publicly available.
The archive will be of interest to researchers in the fields of gender studies and post-independence social history in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. The interviews consist of women’s personal narratives of their family background and education, how they became involved in public work (al-‘amal al-‘am), information about their activism and how it has changed over time and the impact of/their involvement in major national events, amongst other details.
Depending on the age of the individual, narratives include details about women’s contributions to the early years of post-independence state building, the impact of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, women’s participation in revolutionary and radical movements in the 1970s, including the Palestinian National Movement, women’s roles in the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990, the rise of NGOs and women’s involvement in the 2011 uprisings.
This is not a representative sample of all women in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Rather, this is a purposive sample of women who are visible in publicly-oriented activism of some kind. For the most part, these are middle-class women, almost all of whom have university degrees. Their narratives are revealing of the intersections of gender, class and nation within anticolonial and postcolonial geopolitical projects.
The women interviewed here include members of civil society organizations, political parties and trade unions/professional associations; those working in the fields of welfare and humanitarian relief, service provision, rights advocacy, political/national causes and various professions; and those adhering to secular-oriented and religious-oriented frameworks. It was important to capture women of different generations in order to explore differences in women’s experiences over time and in relation to specific geopolitical upheavals.
Most entries consist of an audio recording of the interview either in Arabic or English. This is accompanied by either a transcript (if the interview was in English) or translation into English (if the interview was in Arabic). The transcripts/translations were undertaken by a private company, Captivate Arabia. Transcripts/translations have not been corrected and, therefore, they should be treated as supporting material only. In several cases, names of organizations or specialist terms may not have been rendered accurately. Wherever possible, you are encouraged to listen to and quote from the audio. In some cases, permission was not granted to record the interview and there exists only written notes of the interview.
Each entry is also accompanied by a description that contains metadata, including a summary of the interview and key subject words. Research assistance to prepare the accompanying metadata was provided by Felix Ling, Christopher Shaw and Navjot Sanghera as part of the Department of Politics and International Studies student research assistance scheme. Many thanks to Erich Kesse, Special Collections Archivist, SOAS Library, for his meticulous work in ensuring that all necessary files, including metadata, were ready for uploading. Thank you also to Heather Lawler, University of Warwick, for her assistance in finalizing the archive.