Drawing on rich interview material and adopting a life history approach, this book examines the agency of women living in insecure and uncertain conflict situations. It explores the effects of the Israeli policy of closure against Gaza and the resulting humanitarian crisis in relation to gender relations and gender subjectivity. With attention to the changing roles of men in the household and community as a result of the loss of male employment, the author explores the extension of poor women’s mobility, particularly that of young wives with dependent children, for whom the meaning of agency has shifted from being providers in the domestic sphere to becoming publicly dependent on humanitarian aid. Without conflating women’s agency with resistance to patriarchy, Agency and Gender in Gaza extends the concept of agency to include its subjective and intersubjective elements, shedding light on the recent distortion of the traditional gender order and the reasons for which women resist the masculine power that they have acquired as a result. An empirically grounded examination of the attempt to maintain the meaning of social existence through the preservation of socially constructed images of masculinity and femininity, this book will be of interest to social scientists with interests in gender studies, masculinities and the sociology of the family.
Aitemad Muhanna is Research Fellow at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
'This book is well worth the time even for the casual reader, but will be of especial interest to those studying intersectional feminism. As an example of allowing poor women of a marginalized group the opportunity to tell their stories, it would suit the efforts of scholars working on poverty, gender, and the effects of war and of modernity on traditional family structures. Muhanna is to be commended for a thoughtful, enlightening and well-constructed work.' Digest of Middle East Studies ’Aitemad Muhanna's book gives us a vivid account of the everyday struggles of women and men in Gaza in the face of the brutality of the Israeli regime. Its exploration of the impact on gendered expectations of a highly unstable and insecure economic and political context offers some important wider insights about gender, agency and resistance.’ Andrea Cornwall, University of Sussex, UK ’Aitemad Muhanna has not only made a significant contribution to Palestinian and regional gender studies but has opened up new avenues for understanding gender and (colonial) conflict through her explorations of the crises in both masculinity and femininity experienced by Palestinian women and men struggling to survive in vulnerable circumstances and negotiate spousal relations during Israel’s sustained siege on Gaza.’ Penny Johnson, Editor, Review of Women’s Studies, Birzeit University, Palestine 'After much effort by scholars and activists in the Middle East, long-held stereotypes of Arab women as passive victims have given way to recognition of their agency. This book goes further to examine the multiple dimensions and effects of women’s agency in times of chronic crisis and impoverishment, as experienced in Gaza during the Second Intifada. Having grown up in Gaza and engaged in feminist activism and research on women for over two decades, Aitemad Muhanna is more than qualified to address this topic. Indeed, she breaks new ground and challenges many prevalent assumptions... Besid