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The discussant for this talk is Laurie Brand, Robert Grandford Wright Professor of International Relations, USC.
A number of news articles, news programs, and pundits have described the “Arab Spring” as an "Arab Spring for Women" - praising a wave of gender liberation coming with the sense of political redress that seems to be coming in waves across the “Arab world.” Gender equality has been a significant issue in the social movements of the “Arab Spring,” both in their advocacy and in their composition. As women demonstrators took to the streets and women reporters accounted for it, proliferating accounts told stories of the modernization of the Arab world through the bodies and the lives of its women. This paper is interested in exploring a number of the gendered dimensions of the “Arab Spring.” First, following Cynthia Enloe's curiosity, it asks "where are the women?" in the Arab Spring – as demonstrators, pariahs, martyrs, caregivers, and citizens, and how women's locations in their societies may be changing with or as a result of these political changes. It finds two distinct media narratives of women’s roles in the “Arab Spring,” one which characterizes the Arab Spring as gender-emancipatory and another which characterizes it as gender-subordinating. To understand this dissonance, following Spike Peterson and Anne Runyan, the remainder of the paper looks at the Arab Spring through gendered lenses – asking what questions about gender (and sex and race and culture) are necessary to particular scholarly, media, and pop culture representations of the events of the Spring of 2011, both projected outwards from the “Arab world” and projected onto it.
Dr. Sjoberg has previously taught at Brandeis University, Merrimack College, Duke University, and Virginia Tech before coming to the University of Florida. She has held post-doctoral and faculty research fellowships with the Women in Public Policy Program and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Dr. Sjoberg has been the President of the International Studies Association-West and the International Studies-Association-Northeast, the Chair of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Section of the International Studies Association, and a member of the Governing Council of the International Studies Association. She has received support for her research from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, from the Institute for Society, Culture, and the Environment at Virginia Tech, from the International Studies Association, from the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, and from the Center for the Study of Sexuality in the Military at the University of California at Santa Barbara.