• The Palestinian Historiography of Family Leadership during the British Mandate

    This article seeks to expand the study of Palestinian Arab women’s self-identification and social and political activism by examining how Arab Christian women viewed, shaped, and managed their participation in the project of defining Palestinian national identity during the period of British colonial occupation. During the Mandate period, elite Christian women made particular use of mission schools and Christian women’s charitable organizations as platforms for promoting a vision of Palestinian nationalism as modern, nonsectarian, and politically progressive, in hopes of creating a Palestinian national identity in which they could claim a central role. As the Mandate wore on, though, it became increasingly evident that the presentation of Christian women as central to the expression of a broadly based, nonsectarian, modernizing, Westernizing Palestinian national identity was belied somewhat by the communal and class consciousness that education in elite Christian schools and membership in charitable organizations engendered. The way in which this purportedly middle-class, nonsectarian nationalist vision was developed and articulated in highly class- and communally conscious venues ultimately limited its purview and linked it with oppressive colonial practices in the eyes of much of the Palestinian Arab population.

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  • Challenging Religious and Secularist Patriarchy: Islamist Women’s New Activism in Turkey

    Since the late 1990s, following the state’s process of de-politicization and exclusion, educated Islamist women in the urban centers of Turkey have been active in raising Muslim women’s identity consciousness and generating solidarity with those affected by the headscarf ban. In the women’s organizations analyzed in this article, Islamist women are carving out a niche to challenge both secularist and Islamist patriarchal practices and discourse. This article contends that organized Islamist women have become significant actors in autonomously mobilizing religious women—in the political parties and in the Islamic movement—in the democratization process. The Islamist women’s learning process has opened them up to dialogue and cooperation—on gender equality and other liberalization issues—with secular women as well as with other oppressed groups. However, their “feminist” stance creates some dilemmas for Islamist and secular women.

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