EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 28 Okt 2020 | 17:00–18:30

Gendered Violence and Feminist Revolution in the Arab World

Lamia Moghnieh (EUME Fellow of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation 2019-21) in conversation with Razan Ghazzawi (University of Sussex), Dina Wahba (Freie Universität Berlin) and Himmat Zoubi (EUME Fellow 2018-21)

Photo taken by Georges Khalil

Transregional Feminist Solidarity and the Possibilities of a New Feminist Revolution

Women across Egypt have been speaking out against sexual violence and sharing their testimonies on various social media platforms. This has prompted an unprecedented public debate about violence against women in Egypt, state accountability, impunity for perpetrators and how community silence around sexual violence contributes to the spread of violence against women. Many calls circulated encouraging women and men to speak up about the violence they have experienced and urging families of survivors to believe and support their sons and daughters instead of pressuring them into hiding their experiences. In the light of all of this, feminists, women´s rights activists, survivors and progressive Egyptian women inside and outside Egypt are trying to organise online and offline to share experiences, capitalize on the current discussion and plan the way forward. Nevertheless, they come up against the limitations of digital organizing and social media, such as: the difficulty of maintaining the anonymity of survivors and their testimonies; the threat of defamation lawsuits when speaking up publicly about perpetrators; the difficulty of litigating sexual violence cases inside and outside of Egypt; and an ever-shrinking public sphere in Egypt where feminist organizations can operate. Yet, in the face of all these difficulties and amid a global pandemic, Egyptian women are finding their voice and the courage to address an old wound that never stopped bleeding. What is truly inspiring is that these discussions are no longer constrained to feminist circles: they have finally made it to mainstream Egyptian society and women are feeling more empowered than ever to speak out against violence that Egyptian women, have all at some point in our lives experienced or witnessed. 

Dina Wahba received her PhD from Freie Universität Berlin and is currently working on a book entitled “From the Midan to the Neighborhood: Affect, Emotions and Political Participation in (Counter) Revolutionary Egypt”. Wahba completed her M.A. degree in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Her published thesis is entitled “Gendering the Egyptian Revolution”. She is a feminist activist who worked with several local, regional, and international organizations. She worked on several gender issues such as sexual and gender-based violence, leadership and political participation. She worked in several countries among them United Kingdom, South Sudan, Egypt and most recently Germany.

Feminist Movement Beyond NGOisation in Syria? 

Much of the analysis around the feminist movements in the Southwest and North African region (SWANA) center NGOization as one of the main spaces and hubs for feminist organizing and achievements. While much of this might be true, it leaves out other movements, organizing, and grassroots initiatives where women may not identify as feminist per se yet have managed to start a femnist movement in their communities and in virtual spaces by seeking accountability and justice for themselves. This is specially true in the case of the Syrian uprising communities in exile/diaspora where a few women had recently called out their abusers on the internet to seek accountability but also solidarity from the Syrian uprising communities. I call this form of feminism ‘revolutionary feminist killjoys’ – borrwing Ahmad’s term and exploring it in the Syrian context, where women call out their revolutionary abusers by relying on the support and solidarity of the revolutionary communities in exile/diaspora/on the ground. Here, I highlight two cases: Maha Ghazal, a journalist, and Aya Sabgh, a journalist (I think) and a homestaying mom both of whom went live on Facebook to call out their abusers who are two public figure men in the Syrian revolution. I conclude by highlighting the role of revolutionary killjoy feminism in shaping and imagining a revolutionary futurism in Syria.  

An award winning human rights defender and blogger, Razan Ghazzawi is an exiled Palestinian Syrian USian scholar-activist and a doctoral researcher in Gender Studies at the University of Sussex. Her thesis looks at different forms of mobilization of queerness in the context of ‘war on terror’ in the Syrian war. Detained twice by the Syrian state, Razan was exiled by Al Qaeda and ISIS groups in Northern Syria early 2014. She is the founder of the Feminist ArQives and a co-founder of Karama Bus project in Idlib.

Re-writing the Future?: Reshaping Palestinians’ Liberty and Liberation 

The year 2019 had witnessed massive mobilization of Palestinian feminists and Palestinians LGBTQ activists. By taking the streets, Palestinian grassroots activists along with feminist and queer civil society organizations, are speaking out against patriarchal, colonial and capitalist oppression. This talk will argue that by bringing these voices to the front line, these groups are challenging the social status quo while offering a shift in the paradigm of collective/national liberation and individual/personal liberty and suggesting an emancipatory future, for Palestine and beyond.  

Himmat Zoubi is a Palestinian researcher and feminist activist. She received her PhD in Sociology from Ben-Gurion University with a dissertation entitled “Control Surveillance Discipline and Everyday Resistance: The Case of Haifa during the Military Rule”. She holds two Master’s degrees, one in Criminology and another in Gender Studies. Her work focuses on cities and urbanity in colonial context and she published several book chapters and articles on gender, cities and settler colonialism, memory and oral history, indigenous knowledge and resistance. She is a EUME Fellow since 2018.


In accordance with the measures against the spread of the coronavirus, this seminar session will be held virtually via ZOOM. Please register in advance via eume(at) to receive the login details. Depending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via the account of the Forum Transregionale Studien on Soundcloud.

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