When Iman Al Ghafari participates in Sigtuna Literature Festival August 27 she will speak with Ola Larsmo, author and President of the Swedish PEN, and Sigtuna Foundation Director Alf Linderman about her writing and importance of cities of refuge for democracy and freedom.
Identity and gender
Is there a Lesbian identity in Arab Literature? How can lesbian subjectivity become a speaking subject? And what is the nature of the hegemonic heterosexual gaze? Such questions are essential in Iman Al-Ghafari’s research and academic writings and made her rather unpopular in her home country Syria. Returing after a fellowship as visiting scholar at the University of Utrecht, was never an option, as her chances of staying safe were minimal.
Al-Ghafari was offered an ICORN residency in Sigutuna city of refuge, where she arrivevd in July and will continue her academic and literary activities with a base at the Sigtuna Foundation. During her stay in Sigtuna, she plans to complete her book on Lesbian Issues in Contemporary Arab and Middle-Eastern Cultures: Between Theory and Practice.
Iman Al-Ghafari is an academic researcher, university professor and freelance writer. Her main interests lay within gender and sexuality, particularly in the Arab culture. She holds a PhD in English Literature and Gender Studies and an MA in English from Cairo University, Egypt. Her PhD thesis focused on identity in the poetry of Sylvia Plath, and in her MA she studied expressionism and alienation in the poetry of T.S. Eliot. For over ten years, Iman Al-Ghafari taught at universities in her home country. She has held teaching posts as visiting scholar at universities in Sweden and The Netherlands. Her areas of focus has been translation theories, gender issues in literature, comparative literature, amongst others.
- Democracy and human rights are limited or absent in many places in our world. One of the fundamental principles of a society where every individual should own their rights and freedoms, is the ability to think and express themselves in complete freedom. At the Sigtuna Foundation, we are very excited about our continued collaboration with the Municipality of Sigtuna when it comes to creating room for a writer who is not given the opportunity to operate freely in their own country,
says Alf Linderman, Director at the Sigtuna Foundation.
Iman Al-Ghafari has written and published extensively, her work ranges from academic articles, to translations and short stories. One of her pieces, Damascus Diary, was published by the KVINFO (Danish Centre for Gender, Equality and Ethnicity). She was a guest editor for a special issue on lesbian subjectivity in the Arab world for the academic journal Al-Raid.
- ICORN writers are freedom heroes who deserve all the support they can get. Not only does this effort mean that they can continue their struggle for free speech globally, it also greatly enriches our community and creates value locally in Sigtuna,
says Pernilla Bergqvist (L), deputy team leader and initiator of Sigtuna City of Refuge.
More about Iman Al-Ghafari
Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality
In the Media
20.07.16 SVT Stockholm: Iman Al-Ghafari blir fristadsförfattare i Sigtuna
20.07.16 Sigtunabygden: Ny fristadsförfattare till Sigtuna kommun
Sigtuna city of refuge
The Swedish city of Sigtuna joined ICORN in 2012 and Iman Al-Ghafari is the city’s second ICORN writer-in-residence.
"We had a strong wish to do something concrete (...) to support the fight for freedom of expression. That is why we decided to make Sigtuna a city of refuge for persecuted writers" local politician in Sigtuna, Pernilla Bergqvist said in an interview with Swedish Radio about the decision to join ICORN in 2012. She is among many politicians and citizens of Sigtuna who are happy welcome the new writers and provide them with a safe haven and creative environment where he can continue to work.
Sigtuna Municipality is the official host of the ICORN programme, partnered up with Sigtuna Foundation, who hosts the guest writers and manages the every day running of the programme. The Sigtuna Foundation is a private cultural foundation whose principle aim is to inspire human thought and reflection as well as to stimulate and facilitate dialogues, encounters and bridge building relations.