English version: Gender and Emancipation. Perspectives from East and West: A Transnational Exchange Project


The Gender and Emancipation Project was born out of conversation and friendship. Two activists and scholars, one from Germany and one from the United States, were working together in Damascus with grassroots women's rights organizations tackling local issues of legal and social disparities.They noticed during the course of their work that although contemporary feminisms purported to celebrate and include a global perspective, in practical ways transnational feminism remained a dream yet to be achieved. Thus, the project “Gender and  Emancipation-Perspectives from ‘East’ and ‘West’” was conceived with a view to meet the need for a genuine transnational and intercultural exchange on gender issues.


The project will bring together students from four countries and continents—Syria, Sudan, U.S.A., and Germany—that are engaged in questions of emancipation and gender. It aims to forge a culture of collective contribution and partnership, not relying on assumed commonalities shared by women in different social and cultural contexts. The purpose is to strengthen exchange through a multi-disciplinary and participatory approach, and create a form of exchange in which all participants can put forth their perspectives with strong voices, rather than allow the dominance of Western voices to continue. Furthermore, it seeks to interrogate the East/West binary that dominates so much thinking about global politics and women's issues. The project's inclusion of two groups from each side of the binary will allow for the inclusion of divisions and commonalities beyond this divide. Gendered realities and their bearings on politics do not merely differ between ‘East’ and ‘West’, but amongst the inhomogeneous, stratified ‘East’ and ‘West’ as well.

The choice of ‘emancipation’ as a conceptual lens for discussion reflects the ambivalences such a forum is faced with. On the one hand, it evokes connotations of a ‘Western’ history of women's emancipation, the trajectory of which differs from that of women's movements in (post-)colonial contexts. Emancipation in the ‘West’ has also frequently been linked to racist and colonial practices. On the other hand, the concept changes its meaning in specific contexts. ‘Emancipation’ can refer to many, not just ‘Western’ types of (gendered) struggle against injustices and dependencies. This can open up perspectives for parallel experiences beyond the ‘East-West’ divide and thus common grounds for political activism.

Project Phases

The Project is composed of three distinct phases:

Phase one (March–July 2008): Accepted participants in the project will engage in a three-month study period, during which they will take introductory seminars based in their local institutions and chaired by faculty consultants. Trough a mix of introductory readings, methodological training and the examination of forms of local activism, the seminars will provide a structured environment in which participants can identify questions and topics they want to address and work on their contributions to the conference. An online learning platform (Carmen) will serves as the means of communication between the four groups. Online discussions between the participants will serve as the foundation for Phase Two.

Phase two (August 20th to 30th, 2008): The Project will host a conference in August in Berlin which will be comprised of lectures, workshops, and an additional cultural program. Parts of it will be open to a broader public. The 14-day conference will constitute an opportunity for the months of preparation to be reflected in debate and discussion and to generate original insights resulting from the interaction between varied perspectives. It will form the basis of a joint publication that will follow.

Phase three (September 2008–January 2009): The proceedings and product of the Berlin conference will be published online in a series of single or multiple authored pieces by the project participants. All contributions will be bilingual (Arabic and English) and the open access nature of the publication will ensure that the Project will substantially contribute to a more sustainable, long-term exchange of thoughts on gender and emancipation issues in the ‘West’ and ‘East’.

For more information on current events, cooperations partners, organisers and participants, please consult our project website

Gender and Emancipation Project Group - Berlin

Project website with more information on cooperation partners, sponsors, organisers, participants and other current informations

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