Hall Center For The Humanities


Nawal El Saadawi
2011 Mara Africana Lecture

"Creativity and Dissidence"
Special Events

Wed., Sep. 14, 2011, 7:00pm - 9:30pm
Location: Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas Union

Nawal El Saadawi is a world renowned writer.  She is a novelist, a psychiatrist,  and author of more than forty books fiction and nonfiction.  She writes in Arabic and lives in Egypt.  Her novels and her books on the situation of women have had a deep effect on successive generations of young women and men over the last five decades.

As a result of her literary and scientific writings she has had to face numerous difficulties and even dangers in her life.  In 1972, she lost her job in the Egyptian Ministry of Health because of her book "Women and Sex" published in Arabic in Cairo (1969) and banned by the political and religious authorities, because in some chapters of the book she wrote against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and linked sexual problems to political and economic oppression.  The magazine Health, which she founded and had edited for more than three years, was closed down in 1973.  In September 1981 President Sadat put her in prison.  She was released at the end of November 1981, two months after his assassination.  She wrote her book "Memoirs" from the Women's Prison on a roll of toilette paper and an eyebrow pencil smuggled to her cell by an imprisoned young woman in the prostitutes ward. From 1988 to 1993 her name figured on death lists issued by fanatical religious   political  organizations..

On 15 June, 1991, the government issued a decree which closed down the Arab Women's Solidarity Association over which she presides and handed over its funds to the association called Women in Islam.  Six months before this decree the government closed down the magazine Noon, published by the Arab Women's Solidarity Association.  She was editor-in-chief of the magazine.

During the summer of 2001, three of her books were banned at Cairo International Book Fair.  She was accused of apostasy in 2002 by a fundamentalist lawyer who raised a court case against her to be forcibly divorced from her husband, Dr. Sherif Hetata.  She won the case due to Egyptian  ,  Arab    and   international solidarity.  On 28 January, 2007, Nawal El Saadawi and her daughter Mona Helmy,  a poet and writer, were accused of apostasy and interrogated by the General Prosecutor in Cairo because of their writings   to   honor   the   name   of  the  mother  ..

They won the case in 2008.  Their efforts led to  a new law of the child in Egypt in 2008, giving children born outside marriage the right to carry the name of the mother.  Also FGM is banned in Egypt by this law in 2008.  Nawal El Saadawi was writing and fighting against FGM for more than fifty years..

For more information see: http://www.nawalsaadawi.net/.

About the Marwa Africana Lecture Series (MALS) was established in 2003 through a generous donation by Dr. Mohamed Buba Marwa, a Nigerian businessman, politician, and philanthropist, and the current Nigerian ambassador to South Africa.  MALS brings in a leader annually to address matters related to Africa and/or the African Diaspora.  Previous lecturers have been Amiri Baraka (2009), Martin Bernal (2008), Molefi K. Asante (2005), and Ali Mazrui (2004).

Sponsors of this Event: African & African-American Studies, Langston Hughes Center, Kansas African Studies Center, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Co-Sponsored by: The Hall Center for the Humanities, The Center for Global & International Studies, The Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center, and the departments of American Studies, Anthropology; Communication Studies; Economics; English; Film & Media Studies; French & Italian; Geography; Political Science;  Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology; Theatre; Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies

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