Feminist Friday to discuss Syrian refugee crisis


Cyndi Wiley, the digital accessibility coordinator and a program manager for the IT Services Office of the Chief Information Officer, led a discussion on digital feminism on Jan. 31.

Loretta Mcgraw

This week’s Feminist Friday conversation hour will take place at 1 p.m. this Friday at the Sloss House and will feature speaker Nell Gabiam, who will be discussing “Home, Hospitality and Affective Politics in the Syrian Refugee Crisis.”

Gabiam is an associate professor of anthropology and political science in the department of World Languages and Cultures at Iowa State. Gabiam is also a published author as of 2016 when Indiana University Press produced her book “The Politics of Suffering: Syria’s Palestinian Refugee Camps.” 

“The Politics of Suffering” examines the confluence of international aid, humanitarian relief and economic development within the space of the Palestinian refugee camp, interactions between The United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees and residents of three camps in Syria. Gabiam’s analysis captures two forces in tension within the camps: politics of suffering that serves to keep alive the discourse around the Palestinian right of return and politics of citizenship expressed through development projects that seek to close the divide between the camp and the city, according to palestinebookawards.com

“We try to bring in as many different voices and subjects as we can, covering both local and more global topics,” said Sandra Looft, director of the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity.

Feminist Fridays are a weekly dialogue hour open to all to discuss a range of issues through a feminist lens. Both free to attend and very open and welcoming, Feminist Fridays allow students, faculty and community members the opportunity to interact.

Though she originally focused on the politics of humanitarianism and development in Palestinian refugee camps, Gabiam’s most recent work has changed to focus on Palestinians displaced by the ongoing Syrian war, which has taken her all over the Eastern Hemisphere, according to her official Iowa State biography.

“Ideally, we are offering a lot of people on campus the chance to come in, hear something they’re interested about and learn something new,” Looft said.

The Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity will host in total eight more discussions following Gabiam in the weeks to come over a wide variety of topics. Everything from restorative justice to navigating different identities to self care topics to academics will be addressed.