Feminisms in Iraq : beyond the religious and secular divide
This article explores feminisms and women’s activisms in today’s Iraq and highlights the heterogeneity of both their religious and secular expressions in analysing them in relation to each other rather than as distinct. I argue that not only do we need to go beyond the Islamist/secular dichotomy but we need to analyse what’s in-between these categories. In order to understand their in-betweenness, Iraqi women’s activisms and feminisms have to be examined in their imbricated and complex social, economic and political contexts both discursive and material. I start by refl ecting on conceptual considerations regarding the relationships between feminisms, Muslimness, and Islam(s) and examining notions of piety and morality in contemporary Iraq. Then I explore the context and nature of women’s social and political activisms in Baghdad, Erbil, and Sulaymaniyah and provide an ethnographically informed examination of the different trends of feminisms and women’s political activisms in Iraq and the ways these trends overlap. In doing so I introduce an alternative way of understanding the too often argued secular/Islamist opposition and analyse the relevance and meaning of ‘Islamic/Muslim feminisms’ in the Iraqi context.