Culture and religion are powerful forces in the rulings of human sexual behaviour and Arab-Islamic cultures do not form an exception to that rule. Islam has developed its own rulings and values of sexually acceptable behaviour, but one has to realize that Islam exists in many shapes and that it is possible to find sexual rulings that vary from very strict to very open. On top of that, it is hard to discuss sexuality in Islam without looking at cultural influences, sometimes dating from the pre-Islamic period in this same domain. The debate on sexual diversity and the position of LGBTQ+ persons in the Arab-Islamic world affects participants of different origins and convictions, and does not only take place in the Arab-Islamic world, but also in Arab and Muslim communities outside the Arab-Islamic world, in the West in particular. The editors of the Special Issue have invited academics and researchers to submit contributions, in which they treat a subject that fits the theme and are either based on developments in the past or the present, provided that both types of contributions are written in the light of the present debate on sexuality in Arab-Islamic cultures. Click here for more information
Until now the following articles have been published:
Online Temptations: Divorce and Extramarital Affairs in Kazakhstan
On the 18th of August the second contribution titled Online Temptations: Divorce and Extramarital Affairs in Kazakhstan and written by Jasmin Dall’Agnola and Hélène Thibault was published. In recent years, the institution of marriage in Muslim Central Asia has undergone profound transformations in terms of religious dynamics, migration patterns, and the impact of globalization. In Kazakhstan between 2014 and 2019, every third marriage ended in divorce. By examining how Muslim Kazakhs’ support for divorce and casual sex is related to their consumption of information obtained on the Internet, mobile phone, and social media, this study contributes to the growing body of literature on the transformative forces of information and communication technology (ICT) in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. It uses a mixed-method approach that contrasts wider statistical trends from the World Values Survey Wave 7 country dataset on Kazakhstan with empirical data from focus groups conducted in five different regions of the country in 2019, involving a total of 96 respondents. The findings from the statistical and non-statistical analysis show that frequent exposure to information online influences Muslim Kazakhs’ support for extramarital affairs and divorce. Yet, frequent use of ICTs does not necessarily weaken the institution of marriage. Apart from its effect on university-educated female Kazakh youth, it seems to reinforce traditional understanding of marriage obligations among older generations and young men.
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“I am not Good at Any of This.” Playing with Homoeroticism in The Arabian Nights
The first contribution to the special issue titled “I am not Good at Any of This.” Playing with Homoeroticism in The Arabian Nights and written by Frank G. Bosman appeared on the 28th of June. The abstract reads that the story collection known in the West as The Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights, is famous, among other things, for its erotic playfulness. This eroticism was (and is) one of the key reasons for its continuous popularity after Antoine Galland’s French translation in 1704. The Arabian Nights includes, besides traditional, heterosexual acts, play, and desires, examples of homoerotic playfulness—even though we must tread lightly when using such Western concepts with an oriental text body such as this one. The homoerotic playfulness of The Arabian Nights is the subject of this article. By making use of a text-immanent analysis of two of the Nights’ stories—of Qamar and Budûr and of Alî Shâr and Zumurrud—the author of this article focuses on the reversal of common gender roles, acts of cross-dressing, and, of course, homoerotic play. He will argue that these stories provide a narrative safe environment in which the reader is encouraged to “experiment” with non-normative sexual and gender orientations, leaving the dominant status quo effectively and ultimately unchallenged, thus preventing the (self-proclaimed) defenders of that status quo from feeling threatened enough to actively counter-act the experiment.
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