Gendering the Gaze: Women, Men and the Politics of Looking in the Middle East


When: 22/11/14, 2-4pm            Where: Birmingham Museum

Join us for a fascinating talk on the representation and interpretation of gender in the Middle East by specialist Dr Anna Ball. The talk will be followed by tour of the exhibition ‘True to Life?’ by its curator, Dr Rebecca Bridgman.

What does it mean to think about gender when we turn our sights towards the Middle East? How are women and men represented in Middle Eastern photography and art? What does ‘the West’ see when it looks at ‘the Middle Eastern woman’ or ‘Middle Eastern man’? What is the politics of the gendered gaze, and how do contemporary Middle Eastern women, and men, seek to return or subvert that gaze through their own creative work? This session will explore the intriguing and sometimes problematic politics to the gendered gaze, and will think about how artists, photographers and cultural commentators have positioned themselves differently in order to consider what it means to look and to be looked at, as women and as men from the Middle East. Covering topics as diverse as the visualisation of the Orientalist ‘harem’, the politics of the ‘invisible’ body in post-9/11 media and the visual expression of women during the Egyptian revolution, the session aims to reveal a complex and sometimes surprising portrait of the ‘gendered gazes’ cast upon, and emanating from, the Middle East.

The exhibition, True to Life? includes a number of images that relate to these questions. The exhibition tour scheduled after the talk will be a chance to discover more about those images and discuss their place in the gender debate with Dr Ball and Birmingham’s Curator of Islamic and South Asian Art, Dr Rebecca Bridgman.

Dr Anna Ball is Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies at Nottingham Trent University, UK. Her research explores the intersection of postcolonialism and feminism, particularly in relation to art, film and literature from the broadly defined ‘Middle East’. She is the author of Palestinian Literature and Film in Postcolonial Perspective, and of a number of articles on topics ranging from manifestations of the spectral in Palestinian poetry to representations of sexual violence in Arab women’s writing, while she has also curated an exhibition of Palestinian video art, and with Karim Mattar, co-curated the Oxford Palestine Film Season in 2013.

Tickets are £5 (£3 concessions) on to book please call 0121 348 8120 or book on-line