In April 2015 I participated in a two-day conference, “Sexualities and Queer Imaginaries in the Middle East/North Africa,” in Providence, Rhode Island, that brought together academics, mostly from the United States, with activists from the Middle East and North Africa to share work and to dialogue. The 2015 theme was the third in the Engaged Scholarship annual series organized by Middle East Studies at Brown University (engagedscholarshipconference.wordpress.com). This review essay examines themes and tensions in some of the conference panels.

The Engaged Scholarship program aims to break away from the Western academic machinery, which extracts raw information from the Middle East social field, processes it through mostly Eurocentric theoretical frameworks, and churns out knowledge that first and foremost is concerned with Western or Northern academe. For example, Maya El Helou, a feminist activist from Lebanon, asked...

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