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NYU Tel Aviv: Sexualities of the Middle East: A Cultural History

Gallatin Study Away Course
IDSEM-UG 9550
Level: Undergraduate

Applying methodologies of queer theory, this course will use an historical perspective to discuss the complex history of sexuality in the Middle East and to sketch the genealogy of Western attitudes towards both Arab and Jewish sexuality. The prevailing ideological dichotomy identifies the West as a gay-friendly space and the Arab Middle East as an extremely homophobic one. In most cases, both LGBT activists and their opponents regard sexual toleration as a Western influence. However, the situation was completely different only a few decades ago. In the early 20th century, homosexuality was taboo in Europe; meanwhile, male artists and authors traveled to the Middle East and North Africa—especially to Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt—to realize their passion for men. Ironically, in those times, the West condemned the Muslim world’s alleged sexual licentiousness, while today the West criticizes the Muslim repression of sexual freedoms. Relying on theorists and historians like Michel Foucault, Robert Aldrich, Khaled El-Rouayheb, Samar Habib, and Joseph Massad, the course will explore the essential role that the queer issue plays in the contemporary politics of the region.

For the most up-to-date course schedule details and for information about NYU Tel Aviv, visit the NYU Tel Aviv homepage.