Feminist and queer perspectives on EU–Middle East relations

Authored by: Hanna L. Muehlenhoff

Routledge Handbook of EU–Middle East Relations

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367330767
eBook ISBN: 9780429317873
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite growing literature on women and women’s rights in the Middle East, work on EU–Middle East relations from feminist and queer approaches is rare. This chapter introduces critical feminist and queer perspectives and demonstrates how they can be used to study EU–Middle East relations and to unpack their gendered policies, discourses and effects. First, the chapter begins with a discussion of existing scholarship on EU–Middle East relations that focuses on the EU’s promotion of women’s and partly LGBTQ rights in the Middle East. Second, I discuss how critical feminist and queer International Relations literature centres gender relations and hierarchies as well as dominant understandings of gender, including questions of sexual orientation and gender identity. Thirdly, looking at EU–Middle East Relations from the outlined perspective, the chapter analyses the EU’s approach by problematising its focus on human rights funding while not considering gender, sex and race in a broader and more structural way in its policies. I give the example of the Union for the Mediterranean as well as the EU’s counter-terrorism policy to demonstrate how the EU’s discourses are gendered, racialised and sexed.

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