Women and Memory Forum

Hoda El-Saadi


Hoda El-Saadi is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Civilizations at the American University in Cairo (AUC). She received both her BA and MA from the American University in Cairo (1986 & 1990), and her PhD from Cairo University (1996) in Islamic History.  Her field of specialization is early and medieval Islamic history. She developed an interest in gender issues in the Islamic tradition. She is specifically interested in the roles and positions of women in Arab/Islamic history, from pre-modern to modern, to highlight and analyze women’s presence in public life before the pre-modern period, exploring their changeable roles through the ages. Her aim is to use history (and its interpretations) to strengthen the position of Muslim women in the present, as well as formulate a culturally Islamic discourse that incorporates women’s perspective and an awareness of gender. The objective of her research is to empower women by making available historical information that demonstrates women’s involvement in public life. She believes that the production and dissemination of alternative knowledge is a challenge to the negative representation of women and their traditional roles. She considers her work to be a form of resistance against the process of exclusion and marginalization from which women suffered in various historical periods.

Hoda El-Saadi is working on a project to produce a series of occasional papers on the work of women. Three are already published, one on women and the medical profession and the second is on women in the field of Islamic scholarship and religious life. The third paper is on “Women and the market place.” She also published two papers on mad women and the mental institutions in both the pre-modern and modern periods, trying to show how the societal views and attitudes towards mad women has changed throughout the years. Besides her interest in mental institutions, she also has an interest in educational institutions and learning centers.  She has a paper published on the libraries and the cultural centers of the Islamic history.

El-Saadi has a great interest in the question of identity and its explorations, epecially women’s identity. She believes that re-reading and rewriting history keeps culture on the move, together with the question of identity. History is a significant factor that influences contemporary social issues. In re reading the history of women and in looking for new interpretations that would lead social justice and gender awareness, one would definitely need to gain more insight into Islam, Islamic law and Islamic institutions.

El-Saadi is currently engaged in establishing “The Women and Memory Library and Documentation Centre” (WMLDC). The project aims at creating a resource centre for gender studies in the Arab world that would make available resources and programs to enable researchers and students in the field, and hence play a constructive role in promoting this key research area in the region.


  • “al-Nisa wa mihnat al-tibb fi’l mujtama’ ‘l islami”, Al-Mu’arikh al Masri, Cairo University, 23 (July 1999): 381-49
  • “al-mara’ wa’l haya’l-diniya fi’l ‘usur al Islamiya”, Dawr al Mar’a al-Siaysi wa’l-Hadari ‘abr al-‘Usur. Cairo: Cairo University-Markaz’l-Buhuth wa’l-Dirasat’l-Tarikhiya, 2002
  • “al-Maktabat fi’l ‘Asr ‘l Buwayhi”, Majallat Kulliyat’l-Adab, Cairo University, Benisuef branch, 5 (October 2003): 90-123
  • “al-Mar’a wa Khitab al Junun fi al Thaqafa al Arabiya”, Majallat Kuliyat al Adab, Cairo University, 2004
  • “Women and the Discourse of Madness in the 19th century Egypt.” Hawwa, Volume 3, Number 3, 2005, pp293-308 (16) Brill
  • “Women in the Market Place: Cairo-Jerusalem and Damascus.” Proceedings of the Women and Work: Past and Present Conference,” Georgetown University, Doha-Qatar 2006
  • Elsadda, Hoda et. al, ed. Madkhal ila Qaddayyia’l-Mar’a fi Suwar wa Sutur. Cairo: Women and Memory Forum, 200
  • with Amina el Bindari. Al_Awqaf fi Suwar wa Sutur. Cairo; Women and Memory, 2006
  • with Munira Soliman, ed. Ra’idat al Fann’l-Masri’l-Hadith. Cairo; Women and Memory Forum, 2008
  • “Al Mar’a’l-Muslims: Intaj al-Ma’rifa bayn’l Mahali wa’l-‘Alami “
  • elSadda, Hoda, et. al. Intaj’l Ma’rifa Fi’l ‘Alam ‘l-Arabi (The Production of Knowledge in the Arab World). Cairo: al Majlis al-A’la lil Thaqafa, (Higher Council for Culture), (Forthcoming, 2009)
  • “Gulf Women and the Economy: Pre-oil Gulf States” Sonbol, Amira et.al. Gulf Women: Past and Present. (Forthcoming, 2009) .

Other Activities:

Founding member of the Woman and Memory Forum

  • Member of the Egyptian Historical Society
  • Participated in curriculum development of the History Department at Benisuef University (1999-2001)
  • Participated in a panel discussion in the Qasim Amin conference held by the Higher Council of Culture (October1999)
  • Participated in the summer seminar held by the Fulbright Commission- lectures on Islamic civilization (July1997 &1999)
  • Presented a paper on women theologians in a conference held by Faculty of  Arts, Cairo University, on “Women Throughout History” (May2001)
  • Participated in a seminar held by the Cedej & the Egyptian Historical Society on Historiography (May 2002)
  • Presented a paper entitled “Women and the Medical Profession” in a conference held by the Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School on “Women and the Labor Market: The Islamic World Past and Present (May2002)
  • Participated in a roundtable discussion on Revising Discourses in Arab Cultural History, in the Berkshire Conference, University of Connecticut (June2002).
  • Presented a paper entitled “Re-writing History of Arab Women” in a seminar held by the Cedej & the Egyptian Historical Society (May2003)
  • Participated in the workshop organized by the Ford Foundation on “Citizenship and Identity-Special Initiative for Africa” (June2003)
  • Participated in the MESA annual conference (San Francisco, 2004), presented a paper entitled “Changing Attitudes of Madness in the 19th century Egypt.”
  • Invited to Yale University by the Women’s Studies Department to present research carried out by WMF (November 2004)
  • Participated in a conference held at Georgetown University Doha (March 2006) presenting a paper entitled “Women and the Urban Economy.”
  • Participated in the WOCMES annual conference in Amman-Jordan (June 2006) presenting a paper entitled “Women in the Public Space.”
  • Participated in a panel discussion on the book of “Al_Awqaf fi Suwar wa Sutur.” September 2006
  • Participated in the MEHAT annual conference at Chicago University (May 2007) presenting a paper entitled “Women and the Discourse of Madness in Arab-Islamic Culture.”
  • Participated in a conference held by the Higher Council for Culture held in Cairo (July 2007), in collaboration with the University of Manchester, presenting a paper entitled “Changing Paradigms in writing History from Women in Islam to Women of Islam”
  • Participated in the Gulf Woman Project organized by Qatari Foundation in Doha-Qatar (June 2008) presenting a paper on Gulf Women and the Economy: Pre-oil Gulf States.
  • Participated in the MESA annual conference (Washington 2008) presenting a paper entitled “Marriage and Divorce of Early Islamic Egypt: A Study of Arabic Papyri of the 7th to the 11th Centuries” (Read in absentia)

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