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Lessons from the Classroom: Renegotiating Critical and Feminist Pedagogy in the Middle East
Unformatted Document Text:  strongly hierarchical and heavily bureaucratic structure that will promote discrimination by class, ethnicity and gender. This also makes them participants in evaluation systems that alienate individuals and groups. Among other things, efficiency is measured by quantity of events and activities instead of quality and evaluation criteria for the assignation of money are often not transparent. Feminists in these institutions are caught between marginality and institutional legitimacy. As a result, they often lose sight of their personal and collective desires and utopias as feminists. 2. Institutional collaboration: benefits and constraints The fact of belonging to public universities collaborating with other institutions, such as the government and international bodies has benefits for feminists development and dissemination. CASE STUDIES a. Arab Women Organization In April 2005, the Arab Women’s Organization (AWO), an organization based in Cairo and affiliated with the League of Arab States, held its first roundtable discussion on the importance of introducing gender studies within academia to reshape attitudes toward gender equity. Attending the discussion were administrators from 12 universities from around the Arab World. It was decided that rather than establishing stand alone programs, they would integrate gender analysis into research curricula across all universities in the region. Consequently, in May 2006 a four day workshop organized by the AWO was held to explore practical experiences and theorizations about institutionalizing research and teaching of gender. This “train the trainer” program attended by senior faculty and deans from the same 12 universities, was intended to have a trickle down effect, whereby these faculty would train their colleagues, who would then train others and so on. The workshops focused on course development, and syllabus and curriculum design that integrates gender as a unit of analysis into both content and teaching methodologies. The target goal is to raise students' interest and awareness of gender issues as well as sensitize faculty across each university to the significance of gender research. The sessions allowed for an open exchange of experiences and best practices in teaching gender studies and discussion of possible backlashes against teaching gender issues in the academia. The AWO plans on repeating these workshops on a frequent and regular basis, ultimately building a strategic partnership between the AWO and faculty teaching and researching in the field of Gender Studies from across the Arab World. Although this current network is composed of only 12 academics, the hope is that with time it would spread to other countries and academic institutions. The current participants came from: Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Oman, Bahrain, UAE, Sudan, Mauritania, Tunisia and Palestine. 16

Authors: DeVriese, Leila.
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strongly hierarchical and heavily bureaucratic structure that will promote discrimination
by class, ethnicity and gender. This also makes them participants in evaluation systems
that alienate individuals and groups. Among other things, efficiency is measured by
quantity of events and activities instead of quality and evaluation criteria for the
assignation of money are often not transparent.
Feminists in these institutions are caught between marginality and institutional
legitimacy. As a result, they often lose sight of their personal and collective desires and
utopias as feminists.
2. Institutional collaboration: benefits and constraints
The fact of belonging to public universities collaborating with other institutions, such as
the government and international bodies has benefits for feminists development and
dissemination.
CASE STUDIES
a. Arab Women Organization
In April 2005, the Arab Women’s Organization (AWO), an organization based in Cairo
and affiliated with the League of Arab States, held its first roundtable discussion on the
importance of introducing gender studies within academia to reshape attitudes toward
gender equity. Attending the discussion were administrators from 12 universities from
around the Arab World. It was decided that rather than establishing stand alone programs,
they would integrate gender analysis into research curricula across all universities in the
region. Consequently, in May 2006 a four day workshop organized by the AWO was held
to explore practical experiences and theorizations about institutionalizing research and
teaching of gender.
This “train the trainer” program attended by senior faculty and deans from the same 12
universities, was intended to have a trickle down effect, whereby these faculty would
train their colleagues, who would then train others and so on. The workshops focused on
course development, and syllabus and curriculum design that integrates gender as a unit
of analysis into both content and teaching methodologies. The target goal is to raise
students' interest and awareness of gender issues as well as sensitize faculty across each
university to the significance of gender research. The sessions allowed for an open
exchange of experiences and best practices in teaching gender studies and discussion of
possible backlashes against teaching gender issues in the academia.
The AWO plans on repeating these workshops on a frequent and regular basis, ultimately
building a strategic partnership between the AWO and faculty teaching and researching
in the field of Gender Studies from across the Arab World. Although this current network
is composed of only 12 academics, the hope is that with time it would spread to other
countries and academic institutions. The current participants came from: Algeria, Jordan,
Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Oman, Bahrain, UAE, Sudan, Mauritania, Tunisia and Palestine.
16


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