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Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies

Photo of Dr Marya Hannun

Dr Marya Hannun

Post-Doctoral Researcher, MERIP managing editor


I am currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, where I serve as the Managing Editor of MERIP (Middle East Research and Information Project).

My current research project examines women’s movements and legal reform in early-twentieth century Afghanistan, focusing on the years leading up to and following World War I and the decline of the Ottoman Empire (1880-1929). Drawing on oral histories and archival material in a range of languages, including Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, it demonstrates that Afghan women were not merely objects of reform, as existing scholarship tends to depict them, but consequential historical actors who negotiated and influenced the legal reforms of the period.

Rewriting this history through women’s narratives that center the south-south circulation of ideas and people illustrates how spaces like classrooms in the first Afghan school for girls or the burgeoning women’s press in Kabul are essential to our understanding, not only of Afghan political history, but transnational conversations about gendered reform that reverberated from Cairo to Kabul to Lahore. 

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My research interests include the transregional histories of women's education, religious participation and intellectual production in the early twentieth century, with a focus on Afghanistan.

I also look at the south-south circulation of Islamic legal reform between the Middle East and South Asia, situating Kabul within this broader regional milieu and drawing on theories of translation and multi-sited archival work. 

Research group links

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  • Hannun M. (2020) From Kabul to Cairo and Back Again: The Afghan Women’s Movement and Early 20th Century Transregional Transformations, Genre et Histoire, volume 25.

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I obtained my doctorate from Georgetown University, where I have also held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.

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