It gives us great pleasure to follow in the footsteps of a long line of outstanding editors of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. As three women scholars with a strong commitment to the study of women, gender, sexuality, and feminism in the Middle East, we are excited by the prospect of envisioning and leading the next four years of JMEWS’s future during a pivotal time in US and Middle Eastern history.
Throughout our careers we have been committed in our academic work and activism to challenging and overturning reigning stereotypes about gender and sexuality in the Middle East. We are dedicated to deepening and expanding critical approaches to these issues by engaging scholars, thinkers, public intellectuals, activists and artists from the region. Our team of editors brings a diverse set of disciplinary orientations to bear on our work for the journal: anthropology, gender and sexuality studies, political theory, comparative literature, religion, history of science, postcolonial studies, and Middle East studies. This collaborative plurality reflects the spirit of feminist scholarship, working across these disciplinary fields toward more sophisticated and innovative intellectual conversations.
This second decade of the new millennium has witnessed increased prejudice toward the Middle East as a region, its culture, its dominant religion—Islam—and its people, who continue to be maligned as threats to Western society and culture. This occurs at a time when tumultuous political change is taking place in the Middle East following a moment of political uprising that swept the region earlier in the decade. Civil, proxy, and imperialist wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen; the reconsolidation of authoritarianism in Egypt; and the reversal of long-established democratic gains in Turkey—these are all developing realities that have affected gender relations in the Middle East and representations of those relations in the West in significant ways. In our view, it could not be a more pressing time for JMEWS to lead as a powerful force framing scholarship on the region.
JMEWS will continue its current format and structure, including the special forums dedicated to emergent events in the Middle East, themed issues, book reviews, cover art by women artists from the Middle East, and the “Third Space” section. “Third Space” will continue to be a venue for academics and nonacademics alike to feature women’s activism, organizations, and collectives from the Middle East. In that vein, we are happy to announce that “Third Space” will be led by new editors Susana Galán and Angie Abdelmonem, whose message to the readers introduces their new assignment in this issue.
Following a successful tenure at Duke University with the previous editorial team, the JMEWS office has moved to Harvard University, where it will be hosted, for the next four years, by the Science, Religion and Culture Program at Harvard Divinity School with additional support from Harvard’s Center for Middle East Studies; the Committee on Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program. We are also grateful to our publisher, Duke University Press, and its remarkable team. We look forward to continuing to work with the press.
We see JMEWS as a welcoming venue for interdisciplinary and collaborative research and as an open space for feminist intervention. Our goal is to pursue cutting-edge research that is both empirically innovative and theoretically insightful. We therefore encourage the contributions of scholars in the field not only in North America but also in the Middle East, Europe, the global South, and the diaspora. We look forward to bringing to our readership the next four volumes of this endeavor.