Middle East

Brazil university awards PhD for thesis on Palestinian women

Soraya Musleh, a Brazilian researcher of Palestinian origin, obtained a PhD in Arab Studies from the University of Sao Paulo (USP), with a recommendation to publish. The researcher’s thesis was titled “The History of Palestinian Women: From Salons to the Beginnings of Resistance Literature”.

The paper, presented in Portuguese, discussed the story of Palestinian women from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1960s, a period that included the main events that changed the reality in Palestine, during which the heroic and historical Palestinian resistance manifested.

The doctoral thesis, discussed last Wednesday, also focused on the lives and work of Palestinian pioneers in literature, arts and politics, such as May Ziada, Karima Abboud, Kulthum Odeh, Asma Toubi, Sathej Nassar, Hind Al-Husseini, Samira Azzam, Najwa Kawar and Fadwa Toukan.

Musleh said: “Palestinian women have never been silent and will continue the historical and heroic resistance, such as Shireen Abu Akleh, who was cowardly assassinated by the Zionists. She joined the group of journalists who were targeted by the occupation forces in cold blood, and we will not stop demanding justice for her, because it is justice for us all.”

In an interview with Quds Press, Musleh said that she: “Sought through her paper to narrate an important aspect of Palestinian women’s history to dismantle the stereotype prevailing in the world that Arab women in general, and Palestinian women in particular, are submissive and are not a part of the public space. Therefore, I wanted my paper to tell a more complete and realistic story about the women of Palestine.”

READ: Israel’s assassination of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was not the first, nor will it be the last

Musleh spoke about the challenges she faced while preparing her thesis: “It was not easy to find translated materials into English and Spanish about Palestinian women, and even in Arabic. Not enough on the matter was available because of the references and documents that were lost due to the Nakba.”

Musleh explained: “In my master’s degree, I prepared a study on my father’s village, from which he was displaced, which is Qaqun northwest of Tulkarm, and later developed it into a book in Portuguese on the Palestinian Nakba in two parts. It included the testimonies of some survivors from the town, including my father.”

She emphasised: “The Palestinian women in the literature of the resistance are inseparable from their struggle against the Nakba. Even female writers worked directly in the resistance movements.”

Musleh was born in Sao Paulo and graduated from the Faculty of Journalism. She then obtained a master’s degree in Arabic studies from the University of Sao Paulo. She is a member of the Brazilian Press Syndicate, a member of the Coordination Committee of the Front in Defence of the Palestinian People and an activist in the Brazil-based Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

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