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Research Projects 2001-2005

Between 2001 through 2005, AFWG members developed the theoretical formulations of AFWG research projects. From this collaboration emerged the initial contours of three research project working groups: Bordercrossings, War and Displacement; Public Discourse, Representations, and Ideologies; Women, Work, and Well-Being.

After being awarded major research grants from the Ford Foundation and International Development Research Center (IDRC), AFWG launched its empirical research in 2003. Below is a description of the three research project working groups. 

(1) Bordercrossings, War and Displacement

Researchers: Rabab Abdulhadi; Leila Bisharat; Ibrahim Elnur; Ray Jureidini; Eileen Kuttab; Jihad Makhoul; Nadine Naber

This Research Project Group seeks to understand the ways in which processes of migration and displacement shape the ways in which Arab families are constructed, imagined and experienced. Exploring multiple diasporic sites in which public private boundaries of Arab families are reshaped and restructured differently, this project focuses on two key areas in the study of diasporic Arab families. First, we focus on the political economy of Arab families. Second, we focus on the cultural processes involved in the making of Arab families with a particular interest in the imagining and remembering of "home" and "homeland," as well as "memory," "language," "artifacts," and "yearning." In particular, we are interested in the ways that displaced/migrant families live and interact with their social and political contexts, including the emerging race, class, and gender intersections within those locations. To this end, we highlight the inter-family dynamics, including marriage patterns and child-rearing, as centered by diasporic ties. We also explore the agency of family members and the ways that cultural identities are central sites where Arab families are imagined and experienced. Finally, we are interested in the creative and innovate means enabled by different socio-cultural contexts and articulated or experienced by family members, including survival strategies and coping mechanisms. 

Through this framework, each project addresses the ways in which the "private" is not an isolated, separate sphere but is constantly shaped and reshaped by socio-political structures. The key shifts in the gendering of public/provate boundaries that we explore are those related to: (1) the division of labor; (2) decision-making; (3) the formation of fictive and non-fictive kinship structures; and (4) the negotiation of survival and coping strategies. By taking different contexts and different historical circumstances of displacement seriously, this project highlights the effects of global political economies on the production of changing familiy boundaries. In doing so, this research inserts the global into Arab familiy studies from a gender studies perspective.


(2) Public Discourse, Representations, and Ideologies

Researchers: Josette Abdalla; Lina Abu-Habib; Lamis Abu Nahleh; Soraya Altorki; Dina Craissati; Hoda Elsadda; Barbara Ibrahim; Penny Johnson; Suad Joseph; Samia Mehrez; Annelies Moors; Martina Rieker; Sahar el Tawila; Malak Zaalouk; Zeina Zaatari

The Arab Families in Public Discourse, Representations, Ideologies Research Project Group explores ways in which representations of families impact upon policies and social practices in comparative regional frameworks.  The project focuses on three areas in particular:

  • Representations of families in public policy, media, educational institutions and literature
  • Discourses of family law and marriage contract practices, and
  • Ideologies of citizenship and the roles assigned to families and children within them, including the socialization and development of children.


(3) Women, Work, and Well-Being

Researchers: Mona Khalaf; Marwan Khawaja; Afaf Meleis; Hoda Rashad; Naila Sabra; Hania Sholkamy; Huda Zurayk

This Research Project Group focuses on how families define and experience their individual and collective well-being. Emphasis is placed on women’s work and education as major forces shaping the realities and conditions of everyday life. The concern extends to different aspects affecting the quality of life of the surveyed families. The parameters used encompass among other concerns: gender dynamics, standards of living, coherence and integration, sense of satisfaction, leisure times, children welfare and development.  The study focused on two life cycle stages: an early stage of a couple with young children and a later stage of a couple with adult children.