Fifth Phase: Gender
The focus of many authors dealing with Gender studies in the transitional countries is to study sex inequality practices in past and present cultures. The debates on Gender in Muslim societies have been subject to shifting perceptions and negative attitudes due to political changes affecting Women rights in contemporary Muslim countries and media coverage of these political decisions.
These reports do not reflect Gender Studies in its entirety. In effect, Gender Studies deals with other topics than discrimination against women: it encompasses women, men, feminism, femininity, masculinity, and LGBT and analyses the political, social and cultural positions on these groups.
A more comprehensive framework is needed to address the conditions for studying Gender in Muslim contexts. Without an understanding of the realities of Muslim societies, it would be difficult to embark on such Studies. The MCA project takes into considerations the local perspectives on Gender, which does not always concord with the global perspective.
The Islamic traditions and the Quran are as relevant as are the more general intellectual and juridical sources for this study. The ideological discourses of the current Islamic movements regarding Gender seem to overshadow the voices of secular groups who have lost political power in the Arab world and Asia. For example the return to the veil cannot only be discussed as a sociological phenomenon or political statement, it should also be viewed as a legal requirement in certain countries and regions in Asia and Africa. On the other hand, Islamic feminism might be a response to the implementations of Islamic laws in some Muslim majority countries, and the surge of head covering among religious Muslims in other states.
Gender Studies is a relatively modern subject and has just been developing in Europe and North America in the past few decades. It is an even newer topic in Muslim societies, and therefore publications on this subject will distinguish themselves from other themes by their novelty. Yet, Gender Studies should not be viewed as a subject focusing on modern history or tackling modern issues; however, since it is a new academic field Gender Studies has tendency to discuss Gender from a Modern perspective. Furthermore, because its novelty, gender specialists might not be plenty or prolific in a number of Muslim societies.
Gender discussions are now prominent in many disciplines, such as literary theory, drama studies, film theory, performance theory, contemporary art history, anthropology, sociology, psychology and psychoanalysis. Anthropology, sociology and psychology, consider gender in practice. Cultural studies examine representations of gender. In politics researchers observe gender roles and inequalities in relation to governmental policies and legal systems.
By taking into consideration the points mentioned above, the MCA project aims to cover publications devoted to gender identity and gendered representation.