St. Olaf College | News

Sociology professor earns National Endowment for the Humanities grant

AlAtiyatIbtesam325x300St. Olaf College Associate Professor of Sociology Ibtesam Al Atiyat has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the fieldwork for her forthcoming book, Body Politics and Nation Building in Modern Jordan: An Analysis of Public Discourses on Honor Killings and Rape.

The book analyzes the different discourses that are framing the laws and legal procedures about rape and honor killings. It also examines the circumstances that have led to public debates around these issues, and how the amendment or preservation of laws has been presented as essential to special visions of progress.

“I argue that the clash between groups — often classified as traditionalists and modernists — regarding women’s sexuality, is actually a struggle for legitimacy and power, shaped by national and global factors such as the expansion of Western hegemony in the Arab World,” says Al Atiyat.

This summer she will travel to Amman, Jordan, where she plans to examine court trial scripts in cases of rape and honor crimes. She will also be interviewing women’s activists, Islamists, tribal leaders, judges, and lawyers.

This research will be published in her book, which Al Atiyat hopes will benefit undergraduate and graduate students interested in the Middle East and Islam.

Al Atiyat earned her B.A. and M.A. in sociology from the University of Jordan and her Ph.D. from Freie Universitaet Berlin in Germany. She has taught at the UN International Leadership Institute in Amman and German Jordanian University. She joined the St. Olaf faculty in 2009.

NEH Summer Stipends support individuals pursuing advanced research that contributes to scholarly knowledge and the public’s understanding of the humanities. Recipients produce scholarly articles, monographs on special subjects, books on broad topics, archeological site reports, translations, editions, or other scholarly tools.

The award is highly competitive, accepting just 8 percent of the proposals it receives. Al Atiyat is the second St. Olaf faculty member to receive an NEH Summer Stipend award in the last two years.