Join us for an evening of food, drinks and conversation featuring a presentation by Malu Halasa (Jordanian Filipina American writer and editor based in London) followed by a Q&A with Dr. Omar Kholeif (Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago). Halasa describes her subject for the evening as follows:
Women of al-Raqqa and Beyond: new art, film and writing from Syria
In the Syria of Hafez and Bashar al-Assad, only the thinnest veneer of gender equality applied in the military drilling and indoctrination of schoolgirls as well as schoolboys. Aside from one official Baath Socialist Party supported general union of women, feminism was virtually absent. In a country filled with prisons, fear ruled. With the 2011 uprising, women began openly participating in art and culture and a feminist critique of masculinity and militarism emerged. As war enveloped the country machismo silenced a renascent female narrative; but women regained a sense of agency after incessant fighting decimated family structures and eradicated the male population. Six years on, the picture of women in Syria is as fractured as the war-torn country itself. In Kurdish Rojava, women are soldiers; in “liberated” enclaves, many are political and social leaders; while in once cultured al-Raqqa, the ISIS capital since 2014, they are barely seen at all. Meanwhile the boldest and most challenging female artistic voices are heard outside Syria, following the flight of at least 4.8 million refugees abroad and the estimated 8 million internally displaced.