Elena Maestri is Adjunct Professor of History and Institutions of the Muslim World at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan.
She carried out extensive research on Gulf Arab States' history, politics and societies; gender issues and Islam; development and cooperation in the Arab world and the role of Islamic institutions; the old and the new media in the Arab-Muslim world. She participated in a great number of international conferences and workshops.
As coordinator of an international research project on Gulf Arab history, she collaborated actively with the National Center for Documentation and Research (NCDR) of Abu Dhabi, and throughout the years she was often invited to lecture on topics related to her research fields by various universities in Arabia. As member of the 10th Session of the Saudi-Italian Joint Ministerial Commission in Riyadh in 2009, she participated in the Technical & Scientific Cooperation Board.
Her volume La regione del Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Sviluppo e sicurezza umana in Arabia [The Gulf Cooperation Council Region (GCC) Region. Development and Human Security in Arabia] was published in 2009, and she authored and co-authored many specialised studies, research papers, articles and book-chapters in Italian and in English; some of her publications were translated into Arabic. She is co-editor of a forthcoming volume on "Arab Women and Media in Changing Landscapes: Realities and Challenges".
personal page: http://docenti.unicatt.it/ita/elena_maestri/
Women in the Arab World. The Female Role in Private and Public Spaces, between Islam, Tradition and Modernity
The six lectures outline the evolving debates in the Arab-Muslim world on the role of women in society, and on their rights, in light of Islam, its legal framework, the different readings of the religious texts, and the interpretative methodologies versus the traditional codes (‘urf). Women’s rights in the Qur’an and the major present challenges to Arab women will be dealt with. Education, business and the media are tackled as particularly interesting sectors marked by a new ‘female dimension’ and by growing female Islamic activism. Some case-studies related to the efforts to re-define gender roles and individual rights within the family and society are presented, with special reference to the evolving political, economic and social environments, and to the persisting hindrances: controversies over the family law and its codification, marital changes, unemployment, harassment, segregation, difficulties in economic life and political participation.