Lindsey Stephenson, currently a first-year student on AKU-ISMC’s MA in Muslim Cultures, has recently published an article in the Middle East in London (April-May 2011, vol 7 no 8). Her article entitled “The battle for influence: women’s suffrage in Kuwait” reflects Lindsey’s earlier research on Kuwait. The article, for which Lindsey was commissioned to write based on her experiences living and conducting research in Kuwait, appears in an edition of the magazine which focuses on the Gulf States.
The article discusses the implications of women’s suffrage on Kuwaiti politics institutionally, logistically and rhetorically, and highlights the social reverberations that these changes have caused. Lindsey stresses that women’s votes are cast across the ideological spectrum. She argues that the most significant changes that have occurred since women gained the right to vote in 2005 have not manifested themselves in parliament, but are seen through the social consequences of redefined political institutions.
In 2005 Lindsey participated in a 10-day intensive programme in Kuwait. The programme gave her a unique insight into Kuwaiti political and cultural life where she grew particularly interested in the diwaniyyas, the daily gatherings, which have always been a part of male culture in Kuwait.
In 2007, following her undergraduate degree at Georgia State in the USA where she majored in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies, Lindsey went to Kuwait as a Fullbright scholar. At the American University of Kuwait, Lindsey was able to study the diwaniyyas further and examine their evolution and transformation over time. A small portion of her research involved looking at these changes, specifically in the aftermath of women’s suffrage, which was granted in 2005. Her research is reflected in this article.
In the past few weeks, Lindsey has published two more articles, both of which focus on a separate aspect of her research. “The Political underpinnings of Kuwaiti sectarianism” has appeared in the ezine Jadaliyya and “Ahistorical Kuwaiti sectarianism”, has appeared on the Middle East Channel webpage of Foreign Policy magazine, a Washington DC policy news site.
Lindsey has been studying at AKU-ISMC since 2010 and after graduating, hopes to follow in the footsteps of other AKU-ISMC alumni, and pursue a PhD. She was attracted to the Institute largely because of its inter-disciplinary approach and international nature, and is pleased to have had the opportunity to study Farsi as part of the MA in Muslim Cultures which she is pursuing.
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Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations