Zahra Ali

Zahra Ali

Email

z.ali [at] rutgers.edu

​I am a sociologist, my research explores dynamics of women and gender, social and political movements in relation to Islam(s), the Middle East and contexts of war and conflict with a focus on contemporary Iraq. I am also interested in (post)coloniality, decolonial feminisms and epistemologies.


I have conducted in depth ethnographic research among women, civil society and youth organizations in Iraq. I am also interested in Islam(s) in diasporic contexts and its transnational dynamics and I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork among diasporic Muslim communities in France and in the UK.


My book Women and Gender in Iraq: between Nation-building and Fragmentation (Cambridge University Press, 2018) is a sociological study of Iraqi women’s social, political activism and feminisms through an in-depth ethnography of post-2003 Iraqi women’s rights organizations and a detailed research on Iraqi women’s social, economic and political experiences since the formation of the Iraqi state.Through a transnational/postcolonial feminist approach I look at the ways in which gender norms and practices, Iraqi feminist discourses and activisms are shaped and developed through state politics, competing nationalisms, religious, tribal and sectarian dynamics, as well as wars and economic sanctions. I particularly look at the context following the US-led invasion and occupation and analyse the realities of Iraqi women’s lives, political activism and feminisms especially the challenges posed by sectarianism and militarism.


I co-edited with Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun a special issue of the journal Tumultes titled Pluriversalisme Décolonial( Kimé, 2017). The volume explores decolonial theories reflecting on non-eurocentric epistemologies, aesthetics, political thoughts and activisms. The volume draws on Latin American and Caribbean philosophies, concepts of creolization and racialization and explores Afropean aesthetics, arts and cultural productions, religion, feminisms, fashion, education and architecture.


I also co-edited with Yafa Shanneik and Chris Heinhold a special issue of Journal of Muslims in Europe, Mapping Shia Muslim Communities in Europe: Local and Transnational Dimensions (Brill, 2017). The volume provides for the first time an empirical comparative study on the increasingly visible presence of Shia communities in Europe and examines its historical developments highlighting the local particularities and their transnational dimensions.


My edited volume Féminismes Islamiques (La Fabrique editions, 2012; translated and published in German, Passagen Verlag, 2014) reflects on transnational Islamic/Muslim feminisms through a postcolonial and intersectional feminist perspective analyzing the interrelationship between race, gender, religion and postcoloniality. This book also drewon my ethnographic research on Muslim feminists’ networks in France and my experience as an anti-racist Muslim feminist activist.


Research interests
Women, gender and feminisms in relation to (post)coloniality, race, ethnicity, religion, class and in contexts of war and conflict. Youth, civil society, social and political movements in the Middle East, especially in Iraq. Contemporary Islam(s), Islamisms and Muslim communities.

Courses Taught

Sociology of Gender (undergraduate level)Sociology of Contemporary Islam (undergraduate level)Postcolonial, Transnational and Queer Feminist Perspectives on Global Cities (PhD/postgraduate level)

Research Initiatives

2018-19  Conflict Research Programme supported by the Conflict Research Fellowship provided by the Social Science Research Council’s (SSRC) Understanding Violent Conflict Program and the Middle East Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science.

2017-18  Religion and the Global Framing of Gender Violence, supervised by Lila Abu-Lughod, Rema Hammami, Janet Jakobsen, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, as part of the project Women Creating Change, Centre for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University.

2015-2016 “Karbala in London”: transnational Shi’i networks between Britain and the               Middle East, supervised by Oliver Scharbrodt at the Chester Centre for Islamic    Studies, University of Chester.

2014-2015   with Nadje al-Ali and Isabel Marler, The new dynamics in the inclusion and empowerment of young women, in Youth in the Arab Region: Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality, 2016 Arab Human Development Report, UNDP.

2013  Gendering Faith: Islamist Women Activism, supervized by Muwatin, The Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy, & CMI -Chris. Michelsen Institute-.

2013  Islamic feminists, Islamist Women and the Women Between, supervized by Lila Abu-Lughod, Katherine Ewing and Anupama Rao, as part of the project Gender, Religion and Law in Muslim Societies, Centre for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University.

Awards

Academic Fellowships

2018-Present Conflict Research Fellow for Conflict Research Programme - Iraq, Middle East Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

2016-2017 Teaching Fellow, Centre for Gender Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

2015-2016 Post-doctoral Research, Chester Centre for Islamic Studies, University of Chester.

2013-2014 Visiting Academic, Centre for Gender Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).


Grants and Awards

2018    “Conflict Research Fellowship” by the Social Science Research Council’s (SSRC) Understanding Violent Conflict Program. 

2016      Research Grant by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI) for fieldwork research in Iraq.

2015      Wadad Kadi Fellowship by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA).

2010-2012 Research Grant by the French Institute of the Near East-Iraq (IFPO).

2010      Research Price Walter Zellidja by Académie Française.

Education

Ph.D.  Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Sociology, 2015. 

& European Ph.D. label Centre for Gender Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies. 

M.A.   Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Sociology with an emphasis in Gender Studies (Genre, Politique et Sexualités), 2009.

M.A.   Université Rennes 2 Haute Bretagne, Sociology, 2008.

B.A.    Université Rennes 2 Haute Bretagne, Sociology, 2007.


Publications

Books

Women and Gender in Iraq: between Nation-building and Fragmentation. Cambridge University Press, 2018.


Féminismes islamiques, La Fabrique, 2012.

                                        Translated and published in German, Passagen Verlag, 2014


Edited Journal Volumes


Mapping Shia Muslim Communities in Europe: Local and Transnational Dimensions. Co-edited with Yafa Shanneik and Chris Heinhold, Journal of Muslims in Europe (6:2) 2017.


Pluriversalisme décolonial. Co-edited with Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun, Tumultes (48), 2017.


Peer Reviewed Journal articles

2019      Being a Young British Iraqi Shii in London: exploring diasporic cultural and religious identities between Britain and Iraq.Contemporary Islam n°13/1.

2018      Women’s political activism in Iraq: caught between NGOization and the struggle for a civil state. International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies n°12/2 Summer/Fall 2018, pp.35-51.

2018     La Fragmentation du genre dans l’Irak post-invasion.Nouvelles Questions Féministes n°37/1, pp.86-105.

2017      Fragmentation de l’Irak et droits des femmes: mobilisations des féministes et de la société civile, in Guerre et violences au Moyen-Orient, Confluences Méditerranée, n°103, winter 2017-2018, pp.41-52.

2017      with Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun, Pluriversalisme Décolonial: Présentation du numéro de Tumultes. Tumultes (48), 2017.

2017      with Yafa Shanneik & Chris Heinhold, Mapping Shia Muslim Communities in Europe - Local and Transnational Dimensions: An introduction to the Special Issue. Journal of Muslims in Europe (6) n°2, 2017.

2015      with Amélie Le Renard, Anaïs Albert et Fanny Gallot, Féminismes : islam, politique et libéralisme. Entretien croisé avec Zahra Ali et Amélie Le RenardTracés. Revue de Sciences humaines, n°15 pp. 87-103.

2013      Le mouvement des femmes de l’Irak post-Saddam, L’Homme et la société, Sexe et Politique, n°189-190, February, pp. 223-243.

2013      Le mouvement des femmes dans l’Irak post-Saddam : entre Genre, Nation et Religion. Héritages passés et défis présents. Femminismi nel Mediterraneo, (eds) Leila El Houssi and Lucia Sorbera, Genesis, XII / 1, pp.71-99.


Book chapters

Forthc. Women’s Day in the City of Men, in Women Rising: Resistance, Revolution, and Reform in the Arab Spring and Beyond, (eds.) Rita Stephan and Mounira M. Charrad, New York University Press.    

2018      Irak: entre Militarisation et Mobilisation Sociale, in Etats des Luttes. Moyen-Orient et Afrique du Nord, (ed.) Frédéric Thomas, CETRI/Syllepse, Vol. XXV - 2018, n°4.

2018      Political-Social Movements: Feminist: Iraq, in: Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, General Editor Suad Joseph.

2018      The Fragmentation of Gender in Post-Invasion Iraq, The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Middle-Eastern and North African History, (eds.) Amal Ghazal and Jens Hanssen, Oxford University Press.

2016      Des féminismes décoloniaux, in Changer le modèle. Ici et maintenant ? Points de vue du Sud, (eds.) Aurélie Leroy and Frédéric Thomas, CETRI/Syllepse, Vol. XXIII – 2016, n°4.

2015      Irak: femmes en lutte entre chaos politique, confessionnalisme et ongisation, in État des résistances dans le Sud. Mouvements de femmes, (eds.) Aurélie Leroy, CETRI/Syllepse, Vol. XXII – 2015, n°4.

2015      Women’s Rights Activists and the Debates on the Personal Status Code in Postinvasion Iraq, in L’Irak: d’une crise à l’autre. Les réalités et les défis d’un Etat au bord de l’implosion, (eds.) Pierre Berthelot & Marius Lazar, (Stratégiques Orients), n°2-2015, Paris, L’Harmattan.

2013      Penser l’émancipation par le religieux : des féminismes islamiques, Penser l’émancipation. Offensives capitalistes et résistances internationales, (eds.) Hadrien Buclin, Joseph Daher, Christakis Georgiou and Pierre Raboud, Paris, La Dispute.

2013      with Laurent Bonnefoy, Retrouver Bagdad. Une jeunesse en quête de normalité, Jeunesses arabes. Du Maroc au Yémen : loisirs, cultures et politiques, (eds.) Myriam Catusse, Laurent Bonnefoy, Paris, La Découverte.

2010      Féminisme et islam : entretien avec Zahra Ali, in Féminisme au pluriel, (eds.)Pauline Debenest, Vincent Gay and Gabriel Girard, Paris, Syllepse (Cahiers de l’Émancipation).

2010      with Simona Tersigni, Feminism and Islam: a post-colonial and transnational reading, in Exchanges and Correspondence: The Construction of Feminism, (eds.) C. Fillard et F. Orazi, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 278-298.


Journal articles

2018      with Khalef Safaa, Southern Discontent Spurs an Iraqi Protest Movement, Current History. n°117/803, pp: 338-343.

2018      النسوية في العراق:بين فرض نهج المنظمات غير الحكومية والعنف الطائفي والنضال من أجل دولة مدنية. عمرانDoha:Qatarللعلومالاجتماعية.العدد ٥ـ المجلد سابع: ٧ـ٢٨.

2014      Feminismos Islamicos, Tabula Rasa. Bogota-Colombia, n°21, July-December, pp. 123-137.


Research Reports

2016      with Nadje al-Ali and Isabel Marler, The new dynamics in the inclusion and empowerment of young women, in Youth in the Arab Region: Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality, 2016 Arab Human Development Report, UNDP.

2012      Des musulmanes en France : féminisme islamique et nouvelles formes de l'engagement pieux, Reliogioscope,Etudes et analyses, n° 27, Septembre 2012.


Public scholarship

2018    Women and Gender in Iraq, Shakomako.net, Doha.

            After several high-profile murders in Iraq, here’s what headlines missed about their        cause. Washington Post.

            New Texts Out Now Interview on Women and Gender in Iraq: Between Nation-Building and Fragmentation,Jadaliyya

            L’Irak cherche à tourner la page ouverte par l’invasion américaine. Orient XXI,Paris.

           

2017    Women’s Rights are under Threat in Iraq. Washington Post.

            Offensive contre les Femmes en Irak, Orient XXI, Paris.

            حقوق المرأة العراقية في خطر,Al-Aalem Al-Jadid, Baghdad.

            Reflecting on Multiple Fragmentations in a City of Men, Jadaliyya.

            El Bnaya, Shakomako.net, Doha.

               محاولة جديدة للدفع بقانون أحوال شخصية رجعي في العراق, AS-SAFIR, n° 9177.

              Iraqi feminists mobilize against sectarian laws, Open Democracy.

2016    With Nadje Al-Ali and Isabel Marler, Reflections on authoring the chapter on young women for the 2016 Arab Human Development Report, Jadaliyya.

            Insurrection citoyenne contre la corruption et le confessionnalisme en Irak. Portraits d’une nouvelle génération de militants, ORIENT XXI.

          The Fragmentation of Women’s Rights in Post-invasion Iraq, The Funambulist Magazinen° 7, pp.4-5.

           Décoloniser le féminisme, Ballast.

          Young Grassroots Activism on the Rise in Iraq, Open Democracy.

            مقهى النساء في أربيل,AS-SAFIR, n° 13097.  

            Opposing NGOs, a Woman at odds: the Women’s Only Café in Erbil,AS-SAFIR, n° 13097.

2015    De Baghdad à Paris : Pas de paix sans justice !, Quartiers XXI.

            Parler d’islam pour ne rien dire, Quartiers XXI.

             صلة شرذمة العراق بحقوق النساء , AS-SAFIR, n° 13013.

             Fragmentation de l’Irak et droits des femmes,Les Carnets de l’Ifpo. La recherche en train de se faire à l’Institut français du Proche-Orient (Hypothèses.org).

2013    with Laurent Bonnefoy, Retrouver Bagdad. Une jeunesse en quête de « normalité »,ORIENT XXI.

2012    Les musulmanes sont une vraie chance pour le féminisme, interview by Solène Brun and Capucine Larzillière, Contretemps.

            Penser l’émancipation par le religieux : des féminismes islamiques, Contretemps.

2011    Premier pas de la renaissance féminine en Irak, Les Carnets de l’Ifpo. La recherche en train de se faire à l’Institut français du Proche-Orient (Hypothèses.org).

             أول الطريق في النهضة النسوية في العراق لصبيحة الشيخ داودLes Carnets de l’Ifpo. La recherche en train de se faire à l’Institut français du Proche-Orient (Hypothèses.org).