History and Politics of Gender & Sexuality in the Middle East


In the last century gender relations and sexual practices have evolved dramatically in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), though marriage and family have remained fundamental institutions.  This section looks at how shifting norms of gender/sexuality have contributed to political changes in both subtle and overt ways.  


Book Series with I.B. Tauris

Series Editors: Janet Afary and Claudia Yaghoobi

Sex, Marriage, and Family in the Middle East

Individual volumes will consider the ancient, early Islamic, medieval, early modern and contemporary periods and how traditions and practices related to marriage and concubinage have evolved and interacted across time and countries. Contact afary@religion.ucsb.edu or cmassihi@gmail.com to submit a proposal.

Iran: A Modern History, by Abbas Amanat (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017). Book review by Janet Afary in Iranian Studies, September 2019. Link

Sexual Politics in Modern Iran

Drawing on my experience growing up in Iran and engaging Iranian women of different ages and social strata, this project charts the history of Iran’s sexual revolution from the 19th century to today. The research was published by Cambridge University Press in 2009. More

Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

This study illuminates Foucault’s support of the Islamist movement and how his experiences in Iran contributed to a turning point in his thought, influencing his ideas on the Enlightenment, homosexuality, and his search for political spirituality. Co-authored with Kevin B. Anderson and published by University Of Chicago Press, 2005. More