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Conversation on Women and the Revolution in Egypt

(Princeton, NJ)  The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University will present A Conversation on Women and the Revolution in Egypt featuring Cairo-based writer Yasmine El Rashidi and historian Margot Badran on Friday, September 14 at 5:00 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street in Princeton.  The event is part of The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art and Society showcasing women artists of the Middle East and the Middle East diaspora.

Badran is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars at Georgetown University.  El Rashidi is a 2012-13 Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center for the Arts.  Deepa Kumar, Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies Department, Rutgers University, will moderate the discussion.

In the wake of the revolution of January 25, 2011, women artists in Egypt have been making new work that reflects their reaction to the events in Tahrir Square, and their disappointment in the lack of recognition of women’s rights by the new order.  This work, comprising painting, mixed media, and photo collage, will be discussed and presented for the first time in the United States in A Conversation on Women and the Revolution in Egypt.  The featured artists from Egypt are: Nadine Hamman, Huda Lutfi, Nazli Madkour, Souad Abdel Rasoul, and Gazbia Sirry.  Their work can be viewed on The Fertile Crescent website.

The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society is spearheaded by the Institute for Women and Art at Rutgers, presenting over 50 exhibitions, performances, film screenings, symposia, readings, panel discussions and lectures centered on the university campuses of Princeton and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, along with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Arts Councils of Princeton and West Windsor, and the public libraries in East Brunswick, New Brunswick, and Princeton.

Among the objectives of The Fertile Crescent project is to leverage the spectacular array of art being presented to foster a dialogue that invites greater understanding and acceptance of a region of the world that has been under suspicion and prejudice in the U.S. and Europe since 9/11.

Margot BadranBadran is a leading historian and gender specialist whose work has focused on the Middle East and Islamic world.  In addition to being a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, she has held the Reza and Georgianna Khatib Visiting Chair in Comparative Religion at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn and was the Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Religion Department at Northwestern University. Her concerns include feminism, gender, modernity, Islam, trans/nationalism, women’s networks, and constructions of the secular and the religious. She has taught and lectured before academic and public audiences in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Badran has received numerous awards including a grant from the United States Institute of Peace, several Fulbright fellowships including the Fulbright New Century Scholars award, and fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Social Science Research Council of New York, the American Research Center in Egypt, the American Research Institute in Turkey, and the American Institute for Yemeni Studies. Her most recent book is Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergence (Oneworld 2009). She is editor of Gender and Islam in Africa: Rights, Sexuality, and Law (The Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press).

Yasmine El RashidiEl Rashidi is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and a contributing editor to the Middle East arts and culture journal Bidoun.  Her writing has appeared in publications including The Guardian, London Review of Books, Index on Censorship, Aperture, The Wall Street Journal, and the Arabic literary journal Weghat Nazar.  A collection of her writings on the Egyptian revolution, The Battle for Egypt, was published last year (New York Review of Books/Random House).  She was born and raised in Cairo, where she currently lives.  She was selected as one of four Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts Hodder Fellows for the academic year 2012-13, a highly competitive fellowship program supporting early-career artists and writers who have demonstrated great promise.  The fellowship program provides a stipend and the time and resources to help artists develop new work.  El Rashidi’s plans for her fellowship include developing a piece of “creative fiction” reflective of life in Egypt over the past few decades.

The work of all the artists presented as part of this talk will be published for the first time in book form in an accompanying catalog entitled, The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society, published by Rutgers Institute for Women and Art and distributed by D.A.P. (Distributed Art Publishers).

Fertile Crescent events continue through January 13, 2013.  Other events being presented at the Lewis Center include a reading and panel discussion by women writers of the Middle East on October 3, a performance of Lifting a Secret by Turkish-German artist Nezaket Ekici, and a performance of Scheherazade Goes West by Fawzia Afzal-Khan on October 17 followed by a panel discussion.

To learn more about The Fertile Crescent visit www.fertile-crescent.org.

The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art and Society is a showcase of women artists, writers, and scholars of the Middle East. Spearheaded by the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art in partnership with the Lewis Center, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton Arts Council, Institute for Advance Study, and more than 40 other partners and venues throughout central New Jersey, the project will present over 50 exhibitions, performances, film screenings, symposia, readings, panel discussions and lectures from September through January.

The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society has been made possible through support from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the Violet Jabara Charitable Trust; the Artis Foundation and the Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in New York ; Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Harris Finch Foundation. Several programs were made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Co-sponsoring departments including the Rutgers Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs also contributed to the funding as did Basem and Muna Hishmeh, along with other individuals. The Institute for Women in Art receives General Program Support from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

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