Public Panel Discussion, 7 April 2017, Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies.
Convenors: Yasmine Berriane, Bettina Dennerlein, Sarah Farag.
Participants: Lina Abirafeh, Moha Ennaji, Marnia Lazreg, Marylène Lieber, and Bettina Dennerlein (moderator).
Now more than ever, gender as an analytical concept is being heavily contested from diverse quarters inside as well as outside academia. The panel discussion addressed key questions of how to teach gender as critical theory in the light of current societal and political tensions on the one hand and institutional constraints inside the university on the other hand. How can we teach “critique”? What does teaching gender mean in terms of methods and topics? And how can we engage in critical research and teaching while responding to societal expectations as to relevant output and knowledge transfer?
The four panellists explored questions relating to the teaching of gender as critical theory and also examined ways to engage in critical research and teaching. Each of them shared aspects of their personal experience of accessing and integrating gender in their scholarly research and of including gender as an analytical concept in their teachings. Among the topics that came out of the discussion we could highlight the following:
- The difficulties encountered when introducing gender in the classroom, such as issues of translation, of naming teaching programs, and of low student enrolment.
- The double bind faced by scholars from the Arab region who teach in European or American Universities: offering a critical analysis of gender relations in the MENA region bears the risk of reinforcing prejudice about the region.
- The profound influence that gender had on the shape of their academic work and their passionate commitment to pass on these very same understandings to their students.