Muslim Women on the Front Lines of Social and Political Change: A Case Study of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries
This research aims to generate a nuanced theorisation of Muslim women’s agency. It focuses on the Gulf Cooperation Council countries—a neglected region in the Anglo-Saxon social sciences, and engages with previously ignored scholarship written in Arabic. This aim will be achieved using three main strategies: a) highlighting women’s diverse lived experiences in the region, b) mapping their scholarship and grassroots social movements, and c) examining their role as subjects and agents of social change. The research consists of four objectives 1) analysis of the social categories ‘gender,’ ‘agency’ and ‘religion,’ and their intersection in the work of female academics, 2) characterisation of ‘bottom-up’ feminist mobilisation, 3) investigation of women’s grassroots social movements and their involvement in digital activism, and 4) examination of the intersection of academia, grassroots activism and social media. Methodologically, the research employs textual analysis, critical discourse analysis, and (digital and virtual) ethnography, involving qualitative interviews with female scholars and social (digital) activists as well as participant observation in physical and virtual settings. This research will advance social scientific understandings of agency, and in particular the fields of gender studies and feminist thought. Moreover, the amplification of women’s diverse experiences and marginalised Arabic scholarship promotes the decolonisation of knowledge production on women, gender and Islam.