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Amira Jarmakani

Associate Professor    Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Director    , , ,

PhD, Emory University, 2004


Orientalist representations in U.S. popular culture, transnational feminisms, Arab American studies, Arab and Islamic feminisms, cultural studies, representation and the body.


Amira Jarmakani works on questions of race, gender, ethnicity and representation in U.S. popular culture. Her most recent book, An Imperialist Love Story: Desert Romances and the War on Terror (NYU Press),  demonstrates how desire animates contemporary U.S. imperialism. Investigating the increased popularity of desert romances concurrent with the war on terror, the book demonstrates love to be a salient lens through which to understand how the war on terror works, and how it perseveres.

In her first book, Imagining Arab Womanhood​, she analyzed orientalist representations of Arab and Muslim womanhood in varied contexts, such as the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, early twentieth century tobacco advertisements, contemporary advertisements and photographs, and the contemporary “American belly dance” movement. Looking at photographic albums and advertisements featuring belly dancers, veiled women, and harem imagery in comparative historical contexts, the book argues that they offer a shorthand for communicating social anxieties about expansionism, modernity, and the loss of the frontier at the turn of the 20th century, and about national security and the “new” (oil) frontier in the contemporary context.

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An Imperialist Love Story: Desert Romances and the War on Terror

For more information about the book, please see the following online articles:
Wild Wild East
New Texts Out Now (Jadaliyya)
Romancing the Sheikh in the War on Terror: An Imperialist Love Story




Btwn Mid East and the Americas cover


They Hate Our Freedom, But We Love Their Bellydance: The Spectacle of the Shimmy in Contemporary U.S. Culture.”  In Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora, eds. Ella Shohat and Evelyn Alsultany, 130-152.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.



AJ - Arab WomanhoodImagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the U.S.

Recipient of the 2008 NWSA Gloria E. Anzaldúa book prize.




“Desiring the Big Bad Blade: Racing the Sheikh in Desert Romances,” American Quarterly vol. 63, no. 4 (2011): 895-930.

“’The Sheik Who Loved Me’: Romancing the War on Terror,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society vol. 35, no. 4 (2010): 993-1017.

Arab American Feminisms: Mobilizing the Politics of Invisibility.”  In Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging, eds. Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber, 227-241.  NY: Syracuse University Press, 2011.    Anthology is winner of the 2012 National Arab American Book Award for Nonfiction.

“Narrating Baghdad: Representing the Truth of War in Popular Nonfiction.” Critical Arts: A South-North Journal for Cultural and Media Studies. Special Issue: “Cultural Studies in/and the Middle East,” ed. Lena Jayyusi, vol. 21, No. 2 (2007): 32-46;

“Belly Dancing for Liberation: A Critical Interpretation of Reclamation Rhetoric in the American Belly Dance Community.”  In Arabs in the Americas.  Ed. Darcy Zabel.  NY: Peter Lang, 2006.  145-168.


Public Scholarship and Advocacy:

“Middle East Women, Gender Justice, and Islamic Feminisms,” 2012 Prejudice Reduction Seminar Series: Middle East Lectures, sponsored by One Columbus, Columbus, GA July 5, 2012.

“Teaching about Gender and Gender Justice in the Muslim World,” Understanding the Muslim World Symposium, Kennesaw State University, October 29, 2009. Click on links for general resources for teaching and bibliography of Arab and Islamic feminisms.

Workshop at the U.S. Social Forum, “Reproductive Justice in Palestine/Israel: Controlling the Palestinian Population,” Atlanta, GA, June 2007

Panel presentation at the U.S. Social Forum, “Anti-Arab Racism and Islamophobia: Confronting Stereotypes and Dehumanization,” Atlanta, GA, June 2007

AMWAJ transition committee, 2006-2009

Core Organizer (Steering Committee, Fundraising Committee, Logistics Committee), AMWAJ: Arab Movement of Women Arising for Justice, Chicago, IL, June 9-11, 2006.

Developed curricula: “Decoding Media Messages About the Arab World,” for presentation at AMWAJ gathering, June 9-11, 2006, Chicago, IL

Developed Arab American literature curriculum for use in high school English classrooms, Atlanta, GA, 2002

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