International Summer School
September 18th to 29th, 2005






Both the group of principal lecturers and of participants were internationally composed, which was central to the intensity and depth of the discussions. Besides Prof. Baghis Badri (al-Ahfad University), Dr. Nagwa M. El-Bashir (Khartoum University) and Prof. Ulrike Freitag (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies and Free University, Berlin), Dr. Fatima Adamu (Senior Lecturer, Usmanu Danfoduyo University, Sokoto) and Mrs. Muna Bilgrami, a Danish-Iraqi scholar teaching and currently working in Pakistan, constituted the core group of teachers. Additional lectures were given by a range of prominent Sudanese scholars, with another visiting German lecturer (Dr. Ulrike Schultz, Free University, Berlin) also participating. Particularly interesting was the combination of different regional (Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Germany) perspectives. This allowed for a combination of very different intellectual currents and experiences.

The group of participants was characterized by its diversity in terms of country of origin and interests. Seven different countries were represented, including Sudan (approx.10 participants *), Nigeria (5 participants), Uganda (2 participants), Senegal (2 participants), Egypt (3 participants), South Africa (3 participants) and Germany (10 participants). Most participants were students and academics (preparing an MA or PhD) interested in or currently working on the role and activism of women in their own or other societies. Other participants included activists, consultants and journalists actively promoting women’s rights in their own country.
In addition to the presentations directly linked to the modules of the course, all African participants were asked to make group presentations on women’s movements in their countries. This was a great opportunity to gain insight on the evolution, structure, achievements and specific problems of these movements in several African countries and sparked fascinating comparative discussions. As for the German participants, they were asked to prepare a group presentation on “Muslim Women in Western Media”.

The combination of participants and lecturers from different countries, with different religious affiliations and different academic and professional backgrounds created a dynamic working atmosphere in which fierce debates and exchanges of opinions played a central role. Particularly interesting from the German side was the fact that due to the Muslim majority in the group, many debates between the Muslim participants emerged which showed the width of different opinions and interpretations. Independent from the question of whether or not individual participants favoured a distinctly religious or secular approach, the possible impact and radicalism of a feminist argument couched in Islamic terms became very clear.       

* As the workshop took place in Sudan, a number of members of al-Ahfad and local organisations took the opportunity to attend specific sections. This is also true for a number of Germans currently residing in Sudan.



Ahfad University for Women,
Umm Durman (Sudan)




Ahfad University for Women

Zentrum Moderner Orient




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