McDaniel College lecture to focus on Middle Eastern women’s rights

November 10, 2008

McDaniel College will host Lila Abu-Lughod, William B. Ransford Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University, for the annual Ridington lecture titled, “On the Politics of Representing Middle Eastern Women: An Anthropologist Speaks,” at 8 p.m. Nov. 18 on campus in McDaniel Lounge.

Abu-Lughod is internationally recognized for her contributions to feminist ethnography and the study of gender politics in the Muslim world. She has focused on the relationship between cultural forms and power, the politics of knowledge and representation, and the dynamics of gender and the question of women’s rights in the Middle East.

What makes her work so distinctive and so unsettling is her insistence on the importance of carefully examining both the actions and the assumptions that make up our everyday lives. While she works to understand how women can gain power in patriarchal societies, she also encourages all who pursue such research to consider what women lose when they adopt the life ways and the values of modern society.

Abu-Lughod’s most recent work, “Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory” (Columbia University Press, 2007), edited with Ahmad H. Sa’di, focuses on Palestinian memory and the experience of the expulsion. She has authored or edited several other books, including “Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East” and “Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt.”

Abu-Lughod received her Ph.D. from Harvard and taught at Williams, Princeton and New York University before joining the faculty at Columbia in 2000. She was named among the Carnegie Scholars in 2007.

The William and Edith Ridington Annual Lectureship honors two long-time teachers at the College and friends of the campus. William Ridington joined the full-time faculty in 1938 and retired in 1973, and Edith began a 20-year career as an adjunct lecturer in 1957. After the Ridingtons’ deaths, their family endowed the series, which began in 1991.