Book talk on “Between Banat: Queer Arab Critique and Transnational Arab Archives”

Date / Time

April 11, 2024

3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Taft Hall


Join the Arab American Cultural Center and the Global Middle East Studies Working Group in a discussion with Mejdulene Bernard Shomali on her book, “Between Banat: Queer Arab Critique and Transnational Arab Archives.”

About the author: Shomali is a queer Palestinian poet and an associate professor in gender, women’s and sexuality studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she is also the program coordinator for Arab and Muslim American studies. Her poetry has appeared in Copper Nickel, Tinderbox, Diode Press, The Pinch Journal, Mizna and elsewhere. She has published articles in the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Multi-Ethnic Literature of the US and several edited collections. Her first book, “Between Banat: Queer Arab Critique and Transnational Arab Archives,” is available from Duke University Press. Her poetry chapbook, “agriculture of grief: prayers for my father’s dementia,” is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press (August 2024).

About the book: In “Between Banat,” Shomali examines homoeroticism and nonnormative sexualities between Arab women in transnational Arab literature, art and film. Moving from “One Thousand and One Nights” and the golden era of Egyptian cinema to contemporary novels, autobiographical writing, prints and graphic novels that imagine queer Arab futures, Shomali uses what she calls queer Arab critique to locate queer desire amid heteronormative imperatives. Showing how systems of hetero-patriarchy and Arab nationalisms foreclose queer Arab women’s futures, she draws on the transliterated term “banat” — the Arabic word for girls — to refer to women, femmes and nonbinary people who disrupt stereotypical and Orientalist representations of the Arab woman.

“Mejdulene Bernard Shomali’s ‘Between Banat’ will shatter everything you ever imagined you wanted out of a queer archive. Rejecting hetero-Orientalist binaries, ‘Between Banat’ creates an epistemology of ‘between’ — a generative way of being, knowing and desiring that constantly moves toward joyful freedom by sidestepping demands for legibility and authenticity. Theorizing intimacy outside of hetero- and homonormative frameworks, ‘Between Banat’ is a long-awaited, lyrical love letter that invites us to forge collective, liberatory, queer Arab futures.” — Amira Jarmakani, author of “An Imperialist Love Story: Desert Romances and the War on Terror”

This event is co-sponsored by the UIC Gender and Women’s Studies Department, the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Institute for the Humanities. The space for the event is accessible by wheelchair. For questions, contact the Arab American Cultural Center at 312-413-3253 or

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