Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged arab women

Militant Women of a Fragile Nation

This account of women’s central role in the industrial history of Lebanon adds another valuable title to Syracuse’s outstanding series of books on Middle Eastern history and culture, “Beyond Dominant Paradigms.” In stark contrast to images of women as helpless victims that pervade much of the depiction of the region consumed by the Western press, Malek Abisaab’s Militant Women of a Fragile Nation shows women’s transforming role in colonial and postcolonial industrialization, in the labor struggles and resistance to colonial rule, in the work of trade unions and the Arab Feminist Union, and in the modern Lebanese economy.


Henna is a visceral cinematic experience that functions as an exercise in patience. Drawing from reflections on his own childhood growing up in a rapidly developing Abu Dhabi, Saleh Karama created the character of Henna (A’aesha Hamad), a curious eight-year-old girl through whose perspective we are invited to see the world. Henna lives in a fishing village in an unnamed Arab country.


In his first few shots, all very wide angles and washed-out greens, Abdullah Oguz shows his cards as an ambitious, technically brilliant filmmaker. In the Anatolian countryside, a flock of sheep turns a slow circle as the camera, peering down on a girl’s body, does the same. A melody—composed by Zülfü Livaneli, who also wrote the book on which this film was based—hums through the valley.

A World I Loved: The Story of an Arab Woman

Nostalgia is front and center in Wadad Makdisi Cortas’ atmospheric memoir of life in Beirut, a war-torn city once belonging to Syria and later, the capital of Lebanon. Born in 1909, Cortas died in 1979, but her impassioned account of a four-decade career as principal of the Ahliah School for Girls touches on themes that remained pertinent throughout the twentieth century—colonialism and the founding of Israel, among them. Cortas was fiercely committed to the education of girls and sought international examples to prod her students into imagining an array of possibilities for their lives.

Walking the Precipice: Witness to the Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan

A deluge of books on Islamic fundamentalism had swamped the world's bookshelves following the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Some 100 books and 5,600 articles were written on the subject, many focussing on the lives of Afghan women under Taliban rule.

Breaking Poems

In her third book of poetry, award-winning Palestinian American poet Suheir Hammad explores the resilience of women’s bodies across borders in a fluid set of poems entitled Breaking Poems. Hammad embraces life at the border, refusing to translate her identity to fit a bounded-identity construct of what it means to be Palestinian or American. She uses a diasporic language, blending anglicized Palestinian Arabic with English.

Things I’ve Been Silent About

Things I’ve Been Silent About is the second memoir for bestselling author Azar Nafisi. Offering a larger lens into her life than Reading Lolita in Tehran, Nafisi tells her life’s story and the story of her country of Iran.

I Had an Abortion

This documentary cuts to the core of reproductive freedom—to the stories of women's lives as told by ten women themselves. Distributed by Women Make Movies, the film features detailed accounts from a number of women, ages twenty-one to eighty-five, from different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds who had abortions under different circumstances and at different points in their lives. Their stories are complicated and grounding - from a woman who had an abortion as a Mormon high school student in Utah, to a woman who had one at forty-four, married and with children.

Zaatar Days, Henna Nights: Adventures, Dreams, and Destinations across the Middle East

Pakistani-American Maliha Masood needed a change in her life. She resigns from her lackluster job, cashes in her savings and books a one-way ticket to Paris. While in Europe, her strong desire for adventure and self-discovery propels her to hop on a flight to Cairo, Egypt, but the journey does not stop there.

Lady of the Palace

To hear it told by those who were there, Nazira Joumblat, the Lady of the Palace was nothing but extraordinary. This documentary presents an interesting cross-section of Lebanese history by telling her story. Her rise to power was a groundbreaking event, the first instance in three centuries of Druze history that a woman assumed any sort of power role. In the absence of any male heir old enough to hold sway, Nazira Joumblat stepped up, securing her family’s reign over the Moukhtara palace.