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Druze Feminist Praxis Through the Space of the “Zyara”
In my research, I focus on the Druze diaspora in Southern California - as well as North America more broadly - to think through and theorize a Druze feminist praxis. Through this line of inquiry, I ultimately argue that the traditions brought to the United States by Druze women is and should be regarded as a model for feminist praxis. By using autoethnographic vignettes as an entry point into the space of the “zyara” or ‏زيارة, which roughly encompasses the gatherings at one another’s homes, I think through the ways in which these Druze immigrant women have brought traditional values with them that inform this Druze feminist praxis that I am naming, defining, and advocating for in Arab, Arab American, and Feminist Studies. In looking to these spaces and their subsequent daily rituals, I also unpack the role that emotional intimacy plays in this context and the radical queer potential of that intimacy - especially on their second generation Druze children. I work with texts from scholars Nadine Naber, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Cherríe Moraga to structure the feminist and queer theorizations that I make in the Druze diasporic context in order to make these claims. My research aims to unpack how Druze “youth” - a vague category assigned to teenagers to twenty- and thirty- somethings in the American Druze community - are taking up these emotional intimacies that they have grown up with and re-imagining it/applying it to their/our own lives. I posit that the social and cultural traditions held by women in the Druze community, which they brought with them from the Levant, have queer radical potential beyond their own scope through cross-generational experiences, knowledges, and understandings. That is, Druze women are carrying out forms of community and family care that have traditionally been gendered/assigned to women in a way that fosters a subtle disruption and dismantling of oppressive structures - thereby enacting and informing both radical feminist and queer politics.
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