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Amira Jarmakani

Director, Associate Professor

Amira Jarmakani
1004 Urban Life Building
Core Faculty, Institute for Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Affiliate Faculty, Middle East Institute
PhD, Emory University, 2004


Amira Jarmakani works on questions of race, gender, ethnicity and representation in U.S. popular culture.  In her first book, she analyzed orientalist representations of Arab and Muslim womanhood in varied contexts, such as the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, early twentieth century tobacco advertisements, contemporary advertisements and photographs, and the contemporary “American belly dance” movement.

Currently, she is working on a second book, tentatively titled "Romancing the War on Terror," about mass-market romance novels set in the Middle East (called “desert romances”).  Using a Cultural Studies framework, she is studying reader-generated weblogs and message boards to explore popular perceptions of Islam and the Middle East.


Fields of Study:

Orientalist representations in U.S. popular culture, transnational feminisms, Arab American studies, Arab and Islamic feminisms, cultural studies, representation and the body.


Courses Taught:

Arab and Islamic feminisms

Cultural Studies of Gender

Women, War and the Middle East

Globalization and Gender

Thinking the Body

Introduction to Women’s Studies

Women and Social Change in Global Perspective


Select Publications:    

“They Hate Our Freedom, But We Love Their Bellydance: The Spectacle of the Shimmy in Contemporary U.S. Culture.”  In Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora, eds. Ella Shohat and Evelyn Alsultany, 130-152.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.

Imagining Arab Womanhood:

The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the U.S.

Recipient of the 2008 NWSA Gloria E. Anzaldúa book prize.

“Desiring the Big Bad Blade: Racing the Sheikh in Desert Romances,” American Quarterly vol. 63, no. 4 (2011): 895-930.

“’The Sheik Who Loved Me’: Romancing the War on Terror,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society vol. 35, no. 4 (2010): 993-1017.

Arab American Feminisms: Mobilizing the Politics of Invisibility.”  In Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging, eds. Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber, 227-241.  NY: Syracuse University Press, 2011.    Anthology is winner of the 2012 National Arab American Book Award for Nonfiction. 

“Narrating Baghdad: Representing the Truth of War in Popular Nonfiction.” Critical Arts: A South-North Journal for Cultural and Media Studies. Special Issue: “Cultural Studies in/and the Middle East,” ed. Lena Jayyusi, vol. 21, No. 2 (2007): 32-46;

“Belly Dancing for Liberation: A Critical Interpretation of Reclamation Rhetoric in the American Belly Dance Community.”  In Arabs in the Americas.  Ed. Darcy Zabel.  NY: Peter Lang, 2006.  145-168.


Public Scholarship and Advocacy:

“Middle East Women, Gender Justice, and Islamic Feminisms,” 2012 Prejudice Reduction Seminar Series: Middle East Lectures, sponsored by One Columbus, Columbus, GA July 5, 2012. View here.

“Teaching about Gender and Gender Justice in the Muslim World,” Understanding the Muslim World Symposium, Kennesaw State University, October 29, 2009. Click on links for general resources for teaching and bibliography of Arab and Islamic feminisms.

Workshop at the U.S. Social Forum, “Reproductive Justice in Palestine/Israel: Controlling the Palestinian Population,” Atlanta, GA, June 2007

Panel presentation at the U.S. Social Forum, “Anti-Arab Racism and Islamophobia: Confronting Stereotypes and Dehumanization,” Atlanta, GA, June 2007

AMWAJ transition committee, 2006-present

Core Organizer (Steering Committee, Fundraising Committee, Logistics Committee), AMWAJ: Arab Movement of Women Arising for Justice, Chicago, IL, June 9-11, 2006.

Developed curricula: “Decoding Media Messages About the Arab World,” for presentation at AMWAJ gathering, June 9-11, 2006, Chicago, IL

Developed Arab American literature curriculum for use in high school English classrooms, Atlanta, GA, 2002