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Shehadeh, Lamia Rustrum 1940-

SHEHADEH, Lamia Rustrum 1940-

PERSONAL:

Female. Born 1940. Education: Harvard University, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—c/o Author Mail, University Press of Florida, 15 Northwest 15th St., Gainesville, FL 32611.

CAREER:

American University, Beirut, Lebanon, former associate professor of cultural studies.

WRITINGS:

(Editor and contributor) Women and War in Lebanon, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 1999.

The Idea of Women in Fundamentalist Islam, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 2003.

Also editor of writings by Asad J. Rustrum. Contributor to professional journals, including Feminist Issues, Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, and Al-Raida.

SIDELIGHTS:

Lamia Rustrum Shehadeh is a former professor of cultural studies at the American University in Beirut who has studied the lives of women within Muslim cultures. Her book Women and War in Lebanon, which she edited and to which she also contributed, concerns the effects of the two-decade war in Lebanon on women's lives. The book deals "with a wide range of women's concerns," according to Fuad I. Khuri in a Middle Eastern Studies review: "women writers, novelists, painters, politicians, fighters and drug users or abusers; this in addition to women's clubs and associations, patterns of employment, and mental health." Khuri noted that the book has two main themes: how the war made it possible for women to take on new roles in Lebanese society while the men were occupied by fighting, and what these roles actually were for women, including supporting roles and, at times, as actual combatants. For some Lebanese women, the war proved to have a liberating effect on their lives, as they were given new opportunities to participate more in their society. Khuri concluded that Women and War in Lebanon "is a welcome addition to the rather rich literature on the Lebanese war of 1975-95." On the other hand, Lara Deeb, writing in Middle East Women's Studies Review, felt that Shehadeh book suffers when the editor "attempts to address the war itself" because she goes into more background detail than necessary. Deeb also said that the articles from various contributors "are uneven with regards to quality of scholarship." However, the critic asserted that "Shehadeh poses excellent questions about women's participation in and against the war, and about what happens to women when wars end."

With her next book, The Idea of Women in Fundamentalist Islam, Shehadeh attempts to discuss the writings of nine twentieth-century Islamic ideologues, including Shiite and Sunni thinkers, and from their works find a unifying theory about the Muslim philosophy of appropriate gender roles. While she concludes that the patriarchal society of the Muslim world is designed to keep men in political power, critics of her book have said that the ideas of these various Muslim writers are too disparate to successfully form a unified gender theory. Middle East Journal contributor Shahin Geramin, for example, called Shehadeh's thematic aim an "unachievable goal." However, the critic still found The Idea of Women in Fundamentalist Islam to be a valuable resource: "Overall, Rustrum Shehadeh's coverage of the ideologues is equally detailed and informative. The book … is a comprehensive survey of interpretations of [conservative Islamic law] on gender discourse within Islamic fundamentalism." A Publishers Weekly reviewer similarly concluded that this study proves to be "important for its political as well as its religious and gender insights."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Journal of Palestine Studies, autumn, 2001, Michael R. Fischbach, review of Women and War in Lebanon, p. 100.

Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Carolyn M. Craft, review of The Idea of Women in Fundamentalist Islam, p. 122.

Middle Eastern Studies, October, 2000, Fuad I. Khuri, review of Women and War in Lebanon, p. 201.

Middle East Journal, summer, 2000, p. 494; winter, 2004, Shahin Gerami, review of The Idea of Women in Fundamentalist Islam, p. 161.

Middle East Women's Studies Review, fall, 2001, Lara Deeb, review of Women and War in Lebanon, p. 19.

NWSA Journal, fall, 2001, Miriam Cooke, review of Women and War in Lebanon, p. 181.*

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