Tandem Project

Re-Publishing Medieval Women in Power

Publication Project

By stumbling upon striking statements made from medieval texts, being misused to perpetuate discrimination and exclusion today, AGYA member Dr. Enass Khansa made a proactive, forward-looking approach: She decided to turn any contemporary misreading upside down, by showing the richness, calls for diversity, and cross-cultural values of medieval texts. Tracing their appealing narratives, Enass Khansa re-published a selection of medieval texts clustered on current hot topics in an appealing innovative way to make them especially accessible and attractive for young readers. Being fascinated by the idea and bringing in expertise on innovation policies and knowledge transfer, AGYA member Dr. Luise Fischer joined in. Together, they strive to offer an opportunity and empowerment for young readers to create their very own deliberated histories.

Young readers series

Having published ‛An Anthology of Friendship’ in the Young Readers Series at New York Abu Dhabi University Press in an AGYA project, Enass Khansa now decided to continue the successful publication series with the new topic on Women in Power. Here, she presents a selection of medieval works such as Women and the Court of Baghdad by medieval author Ibn al-Sā‘ī, together with information from medieval Arabic biographical dictionaries. In her forthcoming publication She Narrated to Me, She Said: Biographies of 10 Abbasid Women in Comics, Enass Khansa continues the flourishing joint work with Arab-German visual storyteller Lena Merhej, Comic artist, co-founder of Samandal collective and founder of the Story Center. Now, together with Luise Fischer, the publication will be translated into German and will be presented at schools and educational institutions in Germany.

Responsible re-publishing

Publishing texts from the medieval times to bring in their still contemporary takes on the topic of women empowerment in today’s times, can be demanding and asks for answers to complex questions: What is our responsibility as experts and historiographers of rhetoric? Are we re-tooling rhetorical and artistic concepts for re-evaluating historiographical approaches, to read female bodies and biographies, and constitute new collective pasts inclusive of women’s experiences? Are there female ways of articulating and re-imaging the world? How can these be retrieved and empowered as non-orthodox perspectives on the dominant discourse on history?

Women in power

The publication Women in Power covers women from different ethnic, religious and social backgrounds, and highlight their contribution to their communities and cultures. It also promotes the understanding of diversity as an integral part of Islamic societies and beyond. As such, the project follows an educational goal: Exposing the youth to medieval history through an inviting and unconventional medium, will solidify the appreciation and embrace of diversity.

The narrative within the publication takes 3 steps: first, it reveals the travels these women took to come to the Arab world, coming from different parts of the world, mostly as slaves. Secondly, it shows how they reinvented themselves as powerful members of their communities. Thirdly, it recites their diversity and wide areas of contribution through which they succeeded in supporting and advancing their respective communities.

Translating Arab women empowerment into German

The publication made available in German will help to revitalize the respective literatures of the (our) past and sensitize its readers for their rich literary heritage in a creative way. The project creates a literary publication that is artistically innovative to serve educational purposes. It will bridge the gap between scholarship and society by offering literature to a young readership. Finally, it will contribute to changing the rhetoric about women in history, and in turn, encourage the incorporation of scholarly knowledge in public discourse on equality and progressive values.


Disciplines Involved
International Economics, Human & Historical Geography, Arabic & Islamic Studies
Cooperation Partners
University of Leipzig, Germany
American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Project Title
Making the Medieval Modern: Visual Interpretations of Women’s Affective Histories
Funding Scheme
Tandem Project
Countries Involved
Germany, Lebanon