Zahra Ali / انتِ-فاضة : The Iraqi Uprising and the Political Imagination


In this Theory from the Margins event, we speak with Zahra Ali about her current research on decoloniality.


Zahra Ali is a sociologist who researches the dynamics of women and gender, race and class, social and political movements in relation to Islam(s), the Middle East, and contexts of war and conflict with a focus on contemporary Iraq. She serves as an Assistant Professor in the faculty of Global Urban Studies/Urban Systems, Women's and Gender Studies, Sociology and Anthropology at Rutger's University in New Jersey, USA. She is also a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University for the 2021-2022 year. Her research interests cover (racial) capitalism, (post)coloniality, decolonial and transnational feminisms as well as critical knowledge production and epistemologies, especially in relation to global and public sociology.

The author of Women and Gender in Iraq (Cambridge University Press, 2018; also translated into Arabic and French), Ali works and writes in English, French and Arabic and is involved in feminist and critical knowledge production projects with activists and scholars from/in the Middle East and beyond. She is currently working on a new book, Up-Rising / انتِ– فاضة and the Political Imagination, that shifts the dominant lens of social theory in analyzing mass protests away from a binary approach of power/resistance by looking at ‘the political’ from the point of view of life, space, violence, and emancipation. The book considers the recent uprising in Iraq as a framework to understand how power works in the contemporary capitalist world. It relies on in-depth ethnographic research and field observations in the locus of protests in Iraq and provides a unique analysis placing protesters’ experiences at the center of theorization. Another forthcoming book Decolonial Pluriversalism, co-edited with Professor Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun (soon to be published by Rowman & Littlefield’s Creolizing the Canon series) explores decolonial theories reflecting on non-eurocentric epistemologies, aesthetics, political thoughts, and activisms. The volume draws on Latin American and Caribbean philosophies, concepts of creolization, and racialization, and explores Afropean aesthetics, arts and cultural productions, religion, feminisms, fashion, education, and architecture. It is an expanded version of the volume ExternalPluriversalisme Décolonial, published as a special issue of Tumultes in French. Her edited volume Féminismes Islamiques (La Fabrique editions, 2012; translated and published in German, Spanish, and Turkish) reflects on transnational Islamic/Muslim feminisms through a postcolonial and intersectional feminist perspective, analyzing the interrelationship between race, gender, religion, and postcoloniality. This book also draws on her ethnographic research on Muslim feminists’ networks in France and her experience as an anti-racist Muslim feminist activist.

Author photo