Marcia C. Inhorn, Ph.D, William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, Yale University is the editor of the Journal of Middle East Womens Studies (JMEWS.) She spoke with us about the journal and its unique scholarly impact.
IU PRESS/Journals: What is it about JMEWS that energizes you the most as a scholar?
Marcia Inhorn: JMEWS is now the major scholarly site for Middle East gender scholars across the globe. The journal publishes the work of senior feminist scholars, as well as many young scholars, who are pushing Middle East gender studies in fascinating new directions. The new work in this area is extremely timely and important, especially given events in the Middle Eastern region during the past decade and, most notably, during the past year.
IU PRESS/Journals: Why do you think JMEWS is an important contribution to the body of scholarly research in your field? What difference does it make?
Marcia Inhorn: JMEWS highlights the importance of Middle Eastern women throughout history and in the contemporary period. In addition, JMEWS is the only journal that actively welcomes contributions on Middle Eastern masculinities and sexualities. So much is changing in the Middle Eastern region, in terms of gender, sexuality, politics, social media, and the like. The gender studies scholars who publish in JMEWS are capturing these transformations in very nuanced fashion. The journal offers its readers a wide spectrum of issues to consider, and is truly eye-opening for those who are unfamiliar with the Middle East region.
IU PRESS/Journals: What influence or impact do you hope that your research has on the world and culture?
Marcia Inhorn: For the past 25 years, I have been following the gender impacts of infertility and the emergence of assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), in the Middle Eastern region. I have explored the transformative effects of these technologies on women’s lives, as they search for solutions to their childlessness. In addition, I have explored the impacts of the newest assisted reproductive technologies to overcome male infertility, a condition that is a highly prevalent but hidden across the region. Men’s engagement with these technologies is the theme of my new book, The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East (Princeton UP, 2012), which explores the dynamic transformation of masculinity in conjunction with these new technologies. The book is a humanizing portrayal of the joys and sorrows of ordinary Middle Eastern men, as they engage in assisted reproduction with the women they love. It debunks many stereotypes of “hegemonic” masculinities in the Middle East, as brought to us by both Western media and some scholars.
IU PRESS/Journals: How would it benefit scholars of different disciplines to read the work of scholars outside their field of expertise?
Marcia Inhorn: At the current historical moment, there is no world region more important than the Middle East. Readers of JMEWS will realize that the Middle Eastern region is not monolithic in its history, languages, religions, cultures, and many other important social attributes.The transformations continuously occurring in Middle Eastern women’s and men’s lives are important, and are part and parcel of the revolutionary protests being enacted across the region today.
IU PRESS/Journals: Who do you hope will read the articles in JMEWS?
Marcia Inhorn: Scholars in Gender Studies, Middle East Studies, Islamic Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Religious Studies, and History. Educated lay readers interested in empirically based knowledge about Middle Eastern gender.
IU PRESS/Journals: Is there anything else you would like to say to students in your area of research that would entice them to explore the articles in the journal?
Marcia Inhorn: JMEWS has a fantastic new website, which provides visitors with excellent entrée into the journal, its editorial board, its authors, and its essays. Find it here: www.jmews.org.
Marcia also has a website: http://www.marciainhorn.com.