This curriculum understands gender and gender roles as social constructs that are built, defined, and fulfilled on an individual and societal level. These roles are both an outcome of and rationale for appearance, behavior, and interactions of individuals and groups. Such concepts of gendered behavior are impacted by various factors including one's age, geographic location, social class, religion, marital status, and ethnicity. In this unit, students explore the dynamics of gender in the Arab world and consider their varied manifestations, perhaps challenging traditional notions of gender in the region. Students will explore the nuances of gendered interactions in public and private space and the pressures that gender expectations may place on individuals in the region. By engaging with texts and stories from the region, students will consider how those traditional expectations are negotiated and contested in a variety of ways.
Though the Arab world is broadly defined by a shared Arab ethnicity, there are actually a variety of ethnic groups in the region, many of whom are indigenous to the land. Each of these ethnic groups, including the Amazigh, the Bedouin, the Nubians, and the Kurds, has a unique history and culture and often their own language as well. Since the early years of Arab expansion, these indigenous groups have negotiated their acceptance and integration into the dominant Arab culture, at times adopting elements of the culture and at other times, rejecting it. This unit introduces students to ethnic groups in the Arab world and guides them through an understanding of their lived experience as minorities in the region. Students will consider the challenges that face specific ethnicities and explore how these groups negotiate their collective identity and membership in the region. Students will study the activity of Amazigh activists, read Kurdish poetry, and watch a documentary about the Nubians. They'll end the unit by conducting independent research on an ethnic minority of their choosing.