Open Panel: Translating Gender and Sexuality in the MENA Region

An international conference hosted by the
Centre for Translation and the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies,
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

In collaboration with the
Genealogies of Knowledge Project, University of Manchester, UK

7-9 April 2020



Translating Gender and Sexuality in the MENA Region

Convenor: Reem Meshal, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar

The encounter between two young and highly interdisciplinary fields, gender and translation studies, has yielded fresh dimensions in the works of theorists from both areas. The traditional prescriptive questions – “how should one translate, what is a correct translation?” – still bear a great deal of relevance for translating in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, particularly in the highly contested arena of gender and sexuality. The confrontation of such prescriptive approaches with more descriptive accounts – “what do translations do, how do they circulate in the world, provoke responses and alter epistemologies?” – can yield more critical perspectives that emphasize the reality of translations as objects in constant motion, not only adding to, but transforming our store of knowledge.

A novel and imported concept such as gender deeply affects the ordering of social, material and political culture in societies that would appear to regulate human sexual differences in alternative ways. Examples of particularly complex translational encounters in this regard include the dissemination of knowledge that straddles the sacred and secular, as in the case of legal or medical knowledge and the interpretation of religious history. What relational, idiomatic and intersecting problems arise when supposedly universal concepts such as gender and sexuality collide with the local conditions where they are put to use? What added complications arise for Muslim and Middle Eastern women of different faiths?

This panel welcomes proposals connected to (though not limited to) any of the following issues, as relating to the MENA context:

  • Personal, cultural and translational gender indeterminacy
  • Zones of translation and interference between gender, diversity and conceptual belonging
  • The hegemony of English as a postcolonial world language and the management of human socio-sexual differences
  • Translation in the making of western medicine for non-western women
  • Cross-cultural genealogies of sexual and gender distinctions
  • Feminist hermeneutics in religious history; revelation, hagiography, chronicles and mystical literature
  • Law and sexuality: new idioms for old crimes


Panel Convenor

Dr. Reem Meshal is Associate Professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in the Women, Society and Development Program, Department of Middle East Studies. She received her PhD from McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, in 2006. Her research and publications focus on Ottoman History, gender, Islamic law and Muslim societies. Meshal’s research connects the early-modern Ottoman era to the present by examining issues surrounding citizenship, gender, the evolution of Islamic law, and the discourse on modernism and secularism in the contemporary Middle East. She has also extensively researched questions of gender and the Muslim diaspora in North America, specifically concerning the veil (hijab), and issues surrounding identity and integration. Her research on Islamic law and Ottoman society has been published in such journals as the Journal of Islamic Studies, and in edited collections, including the Muslim Veil in North America (2002) and Fundamentalism and Women in World Religions (2008). She is also author of the book Sharia and the Making of the Modern Egyptian (AUC Press 2014).


Submission of Paper Proposals

Submissions should be sent to the panel convenor (Reem Meshal, by 30 September 2019.

Submissions should consist of:

(1) Abstract (300-400 words, including up to 5 bibliographic references).

(2) Contributor’s 150-word (maximum) biodata written in the third person. See examples from a previous event here:

(3) Full affiliation(s)

Notification of acceptance will be sent by 30 October 2019.