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THINKING INTENTIONALITY
ARAB WOMEN’S SUBJECTIVITY AND ITS DISCONTENTS

Suad Joseph 2010 JMEWS Distinguished Lecturer
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Abstract
Thus far, scholarship on subjectivity, relevant to Arab men as well as women, skirts the key issue of “intentionality.” Feminist scholars often conflate agency and intentionality. Agency, as it is approached, is attached to the subject in the aftermath of observing actions. Intentionality invites a probe into before and during actions. The two main approaches to intentionality in psychology are “drive” theory and “relational-models.” First, I briefly consider drive theory. Second, I examine relational concepts from the field of psychology, by way of a query, ending with a discussion of Kenneth J. Gergen’s Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community (Oxford University Press, 2009). Third, I review some of the standing tropes through which Arab women as subjects are viewed. Fourth, I explore what these inquiries could mean for the study of Arab women’s subjectivity and intentionality. Finally, I gesture toward questions on methodologies and languages.

Thinking Subjectivity and Intentionality

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lonely engagement with vocabulary, terms, and language and a difficult turning to anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, and philosophy for methods and approaches accompanied the early days of my project on culturally situated notions of gender, family, selfhood, and subjectivity in Arab societies, focusing especially on Lebanon, in the late 1970s. A journey of three decades ensued, during
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies Vol. 8, No. 2 (Spring 2012) © 2012

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which time I hit roadblocks and stumbled onto pathways, pursuing what at times appeared to me an unspeakable subject, an unwritable concept, an unanswerable query. At the time, few scholars were theorizing Arab families or Arab women as subjects. Few writing about the Arab world were pondering questions of subjectivity or intentionality. I wrote a paper formulating a framework for thinking about relational notions of self, family, patriarchy, citizenship, and rights in 1984 for the Social Science Research Council Near and Middle East Committee on which I was serving as a member. A series of articles began appearing on patriarchal connectivity (Joseph 1993a, b), relational rights (1994b), relational pedagogies of writing (1995), ethnographic methods (1988), patriarchal connective mirroring (2003), desire (2005) in the context of relationships between brother and sister (1994a), mother and son (1999), brother and brother (2003), key fieldwork informants (1996) and their relationships with employers (1998), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (1997), the law (1990), and political leaders, citizenship, and the state (2000), among others. The last paper in this string, entitled “Learning Desire: Relational Pedagogies and the Desiring Female Subject in Lebanon,” was published in Volume 1, Number 1 of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (2005). Written in the early 1990s, the earlier draft of “Learning Desire” had been rejected by Signs as not sufficiently “feminist.” Framing these concepts drove my work on gender, citizenship, civil society, human rights, and the state in Lebanon and the Middle East through the early part of the twenty-first millennium. Scholarship on subjectivity, relevant to Arab men as well as women, addressed by many researchers, skirts the key issue of intentionality. Indeed, my own work on subjectivity hit a wall by the early decade of the twenty-first century as I struggled to find concepts to capture intentionality in the dynamics I perceived among the Lebanese persons and families with whom I was working. I have long thought that the next major task for theory of the subject is to understand “intentionality.” Feminist scholars have pored over agency, thinking that agency captured intentionality. Agency, as it has been approached, is attached to the subject in the aftermath of observing actions. Intentionality invites a probe into before and during actions. Can feminists understand how oppressed women are oppressed; respond to oppression; are complicit

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in oppression; may not see actions as oppression; may not experience oppression; may oppress others; resist oppression—and how they understand for themselves all the above, without understanding intentionality? This query haunts my thinking on subjectivity. The two main approaches to intentionality in psychology have been “drive” theory and “relational-models.” Formalized by Sigmund Freud (Strachey 1999) and psychoanalytic schools, the hegemonic drive theory underwrote most approaches to the subject in the fields of psychology, political science, sociology, anthropology, economics, and history and in the popular culture for much of the twentieth century. Based in biological notions of instincts inherent in the subject and organized for the subject’s self-interest and closely linked with Darwinian evolutionary theory of survival, the century plus-old drive theory implanted itself so profoundly in Western culture, especially that of America, as to have become naturalized. Relational models of intentionality track to the early twentieth century as well,1 though their formal articulations are usually traced to the work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, as well as to that of W. Ronald D. Fairbairn, Harry Stack Sullivan, D. W. Winnecott, and Heinz Kohut in the 1950s-1970s. Relational models were initially rejected by classical psychoanalysts but had become more accepted as a “school” by the 1980s. Feminist scholars such as Nancy Chodorow (1978), Jean Baker Miller (1987), and Carol Gilligan (1993) sophisticated the psychoanalytical relational models with gender analysis, though not without harsh criticism by other feminists (Keller 1986). By the 1990s anthropologists, such as Dorinne Kondo (1990) and myself, were adding cross-cultural analyses and critiques to the psychoanalytical relational models. Law and political science scholars similarly took on notions of relationality for their disciplines by this time (Nedlesky 1989, 1990, 1993, 2011). In the first section of the paper, I briefly consider drive theory, by way of background. In the second part, I examine relational concepts from the field of psychology, not by way of a review of the literature, but by way of a query, ending with a discussion of Kenneth J. Gergen’s (2009) Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community. In the third part, I review some of the standing tropes through which Arab women as subjects have been viewed. In the fourth part, I explore what these inquiries could mean for the study of Arab women’s subjectivity and intentional-

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ity. In the fifth section, I gesture towards questions on methodologies and languages.2
Drive Theories of Subjectivity and Intentionality

Classical psychoanalytical models, drawing on the work of Freud and his followers, derive intentionality from a theory of “drives.” Drive theory emerges from a construct of human nature that installs the “individual” as the basic unit of study—and of society. Classical drive theory sees motivation and intentionality as basically hedonistic: The individual seeks to maximize pleasure and minimize pain (Mitchell 1988, 26). In a similar vein the “rational actor” seeks to maximize gains and minimize loss, or the “sociobiological actor” seeks to maximize the inheritance of his or her genetic material and minimize the loss of his or her genetic material. Freud sees the mind as “monadic” (Mitchell 1988, 3). He recognizes the importance of environment. Biology and culture are both present in psychoanalytical models. In the drive model, however, biology, what is inherent, drives and shapes social factors. Freud’s drive theory presumes that the motives are in the individual a priori, in the body and that they shape the interaction, the relationship. Freud saw intentionality as seated in the unconscious. The unconscious, where drives are masked, is the site of intent. The unconscious is not accessible, not on the surface, not observable. Intentionality has to be excavated from the inner world of the mind of the individual. The unconscious, and its drive theory of intentionality, reinstated the Cartesian mind/body dualism, ordering inner/outer worlds. It established the fundamental structuring of the subject around self and the other binaries. As it grounded itself in biology, drive theories of intentionality have slipped readily into universal frameworks for the making of the subject. Psychoanalytical theory, relatively hegemonic, has virtually naturalized drive as human nature.
Relational Approaches to Subjectivity and Intentionality

I have, in earlier work, explored relational models of the subject, particularly feminist object relations theory.3 Here, I look at the work of John Bowlby (1973, 1979), Harry Stack Sullivan (1953), W. Ronald D.

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Fairbairn (1954), and Heinz Kohut (1971, 1977), as insightfully compared by Stephen A. Mitchell (1988), and the work of Kenneth J. Gergen (2009). Clifford Geertz asserted, “In a sense the brain was selected by culture. It is not that the human brain came first and culture, or man’s capacity for culture, emanated from it....” (Mitchell 1988, 18). Relational models of intentionality, following that line of thought, argue that social context and social relations were of evolutionary significance in selecting for what become homo sapien, including the mind. Theories of relationality tend to see the mind “as fundamentally dyadic and interactive; with the mind, above all else, seeking contact, engagement with other minds” (3). Relational-model theories recognize the importance of bodily events and processes; however, in relational models, biology and interpersonal process constantly shape each other. For relational-model theories, the basic unit of study is “an interactional field within which the individual arises and struggles to make contact and to articulate himself” (3). Relational-model theories view psychological processes as biology and interpersonal processes, constantly shaping each other. The biological and the social are mutually constitutive, relational. Mitchell (1988) identifies several relational models of subjectivity: 1. Relational by design—Bowlby and Sullivan (focusing on the space between the self and other); 2. Relational by intent—Fairbairn (focusing on how ties to others create a lattice holding a person’s world together); and 3. Relational by implication—Winnicott (1958) (not covered here) and Kohut (1971, 1977) (focusing on the self, but implicitly always see the self in relation to the other). Bowlby (1971), working as a trained psychoanalyst from the 1940s to the 1990s, offered one of the most significant challenges to drive theory through his concept of attachment. His approach was rejected by psychoanalytical circles in the 1950s, though a decade or two later his theories were accepted. Bowlby identified attachment, connection, relation as primary to human motivational processes. He, like Freud, ascribed to biology the organizational basis for motivation. As a result, his work was significantly informed by animal studies of that period that documented primates’ needs for attachment as a survival strategy—in a Darwinian evolutionary sense. For Bowlby, the infant’s need for attachment to the caretaker is primary and biologically hardwired—not a derivative of satisfying other biological needs such as orality. Bowlby’s

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attachment is interactional and relational, a motivation propelling the individual to seek contact for the sake of contact, an end in itself, not to satisfy other drives. Connection is an impulse on its own, biologically organized in the body and of evolutionary significance for the human species for Bowlby (1979). Sullivan argues that “people are not separate entities, but participants in interactions with actual others and with ‘personifications’ (or ‘representations’) of others derived from previous interactions with actual others. In short, the individual is understandable only in the context of the interpersonal field” (Mitchell 1988, 25). For Sullivan (1953), the personality is about the actions: what a person does, not what she or he possesses. Both Bowlby and Sullivan regarded attachment as biological; humans are social by evolutionary design. According to Mitchell (1988, 19), Sullivan and Fairbairn argued that by focusing on the individual mind, Freud had the wrong unit for the study of emotional life. Fairbairn (1954) suggests that the individual is relational by intent. Individuals crave relatedness, at any price: “It is the contact, not the pleasure, which is primary” (Mitchell 1988, 27). If contact comes with pain, then pain is sought to achieve contact. If contact comes with pleasure, that pleasure is sought to achieve contact. For Fairburn, the motivational goal is for contact, not the satisfaction of pleasure. Contact can be understood as sensual, as rage, as silence, as depressive longing—and the child is attached to these as avenues to contact. The core of the self is relationships, not instincts, for Fairbairn. For Bowlby attachment is instinctive. For Fairbairn object seek is intentional. Kohut’s (1971) theoretical and clinical uses of the concept of mirroring were foundational for many relational psychologists. The self is always in relation to others. The mirroring process requires the recognition and response of the other for the subject’s self-esteem. The mirroring process requires the active participation of the other, rather than passive refraction; it is a positive reinforcement of the achievements of the subject. Typically, for Kohut, the primary other is the primary caretaker, but the psychoanalyst can play this role as well. Kohut (1971, 1977) was directly concerned with motivation—the motivation of the infant to identify with the primary caretaker for purposes of security, anxiety reduction, and ultimately, positive self-protection. Mitchell pushes these relational models further. He argues that

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the relational model has three dimensions: “the self, the other, and the space between the two” (Mitchell 1988, 33). He further argues there is no self or object outside the relational matrix. Mitchell (9) uses the term “relational matrix” to argue that the intrapsychic and interpersonal are intertwined constantly—they “create, interpenetrate, and transform each other in a subtle and complex manner.” For relational-model theorists, “Meaning is not provided a priori, but derives from the relational matrix. The relational field is constitutive of individual experience” (19). For Mitchell (21) we are relational by design, hard-wired for relationality. Mitchell (10) accepts from the drive model, the emphasis on conflict, developing a notion of a “relational-conflict model:”
Social relations are regarded as themselves biologically rooted, genetically encoded, fundamentally motivational processes. Thus sexuality and aggression are understood not as preformed instincts with inherent meanings, which impinge upon the mind, but as powerful responses, mediated physiologically, generated within a biologically mandated relational field and therefore deriving their meaning from that deeper relational matrix. (20)

Relational theorists argue that meaning of any sort can be understood only in the context of relation. Many relational theorists see some needs as more fundamental than others, such as dependency for Fairbairn, security for Sullivan, or mirroring for Kohut. For Mitchell, this is a kind of reductionism. He prefers to:
use the notion of relational matrix not in a narrow, discrete motivational sense, but in a broad, paradigmatic sense, as encompassing: innate wiring [and] motivational intent.... Man’s social nature leads him to see many different forms of connection, familiarity, security, dependency, merger, safety, pleasure, validation, mutual knowing and so on. What dimensions of the infinite variety of human connection become dynamically central and conflictual for any particular person depends strongly on the particularities of the cultural and familial context and the specific constellation of talents, sensitivities, and rhythms of the individual discovers in himself within that context. (Mitchell 1988, 62)

These relational models of subjectivity and intentionality move in a promising direction away from the mind/body dualism and the classical

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psychoanalytical, biologically–driven, instinctual theory of intentionality. They move in the direction of the social context and the embedding of the self in relation. However, I find that much of attachment theory is still premised on the idea of the individual as a separate unit, connecting with another individual as a separate unit. There tends to be a particular focus on the attachment of the infant with the mother. Much of attachment theory, biologically rooted, is influenced by Darwinian evolutionary theory— that attachment is survival driven. Additionally, these relational theories tend to focus on dualities—the self/other, especially in the mother/child relation. The focus of theorizing is on one-to-one, relationships, which tend to be dyadic or triangular. I suggest moving models to see intentionality as emerging from webs or networks of relationships for the Arab world, where attachments are multiple, diverse, constantly shifting in personas, and even the caretaker is not exclusively the mother figure. Gergen’s (2009) work takes relational subjectivity and intentionality one step further. As Mitchell (1988), 19) argues, “In the more radical statements of the relational position, the very notion of a single mind as a meaningful unit for study is called into question.” Falling into the more radical wing of relational models, Gergen suggests the use of the term relational “being” rather than “self” to reflect an entity in process. His starting point is the recognition that, after 200 years of work in psychology, no scholar has been able to provide a way to understand what actually goes on inside another person (2009, 14). Like Eva Moskowitz (2001, 279), Gergen (2009, 11) is concerned that the modern period has come to worship the psyche, elevating feelings to the circle of the sacred. Moskowitz observes that no other country in the world puts so much at store by emotional well-being and happiness as the United States. Gergen offers a sustained critique of the concept of the boundaries and the bounded individual. He challenges most social theory, which assumes its objects of study are separate units: self versus other, individual versus society, one organization versus another, one community versus another. Gergen (2009, xx – xxi) argues that we should see the units (individuals as well) as the products of relationships. He questions the idea of “self-knowledge”—knowing yourself implies an entity, a unit which is separable from relationships, and which is knowable apart from relationships (63).

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Gergen argues that reason is a social performance. What is considered reasonable exists within a social tradition and thus reason is the outcome of relationships within social traditions. Reason is relational: It is embedded in social/cultural context, not generated from the isolated mind (76). “...[R]ational thought, intentions, experience, memory, and creativity are not prior to relational life, but are born within relationships” (95). Agency is relational, a social performance for Gergen. Intention does not sit inside the mind as an isolated event. It is part of a stream of co-action. Intention, like reason, is part of a social performance. It takes its shape in relationship; it does not exist in isolation. He argues this even when people lie about their intention; that too is part of a relationship, a social stream, a tradition of speaking. Gergen argues this does not eliminate “free will” or relegate the subject/being to “determinism.” Attempting to go beyond the volunteerism/determinism binary, he argues free will and determinism are social traditions of speaking about being and relationships, configured together, “by viewing agency as an action within a relationship” (82). For Gergen, memory and experience are also forms of relational action (86). Memory is continually created through speaking, and coaction (88). Co-action stabilizes what we consider to be real, rational, and reasonable. Co-action creates the standards by which we stabilize that world of meaning. What counts as accurate is generated from a social tradition of relationships (90). Creativity is a relational achievement (91). Since responsibility is relational, it ought to be shared, he contends, rather than shouldered by separate individual units (8). In this most radical of the relational theorists, Gergen scrambles for vocabulary, terminology, language, methodologies, and writing approaches to describe relational subjectivities and intentionalities. The theoretical interventions of relational psychology are useful steps in the landscape of Arab women’s subjectivities. The theorists discussed in this section engage with the basic human condition of connectivity. They challenge classical psychoanalysis and classical psychology’s reliance on the liberalist notion of the bounded, autonomous, separative self. They nest their theories in the premise of the social and explore, from different trajectories, how to theorize the social more intimately, more immediately, more foundationally. Particularly in the

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work of Gergen, the self is always situated in webs of relationality and can only be understood within those webs. Gergen’s extended challenge to the notions of agency, reason, memory, and the like resonates with the conditionalities of subjectivities I found, working among different classes and different localities in Lebanon. This theoretical landscape opens horizons for inquiry I pursue below.
Familiar Terrains and Tropes: Arab Women’s Subjectivity and Intentionality

Much is meant by the phrase “Arab women as subjects.” An immediate image that comes to mind in feminist circles is of Arab women with agency, acting on their own behalf for empowerment, emancipation, freedom, citizenship, rights, space, or authority—somehow, for them“selves.” This is the obvious image of the liberalist feminist Arab woman subject. The obvious, hopefully, will become less obvious in this inquiry. Here I highlight key queries related to four key markers of the familiar theoretical landscape on Arab women as subjects: 1. of representation; 2. of culture; 3. of patriarchy; 4. of politics. In all of these, I use the term “subjects” to indicate intentional and re-active beings that are simultaneously active and acted upon.
Arab Women as Subjects of Representation

Perhaps one of the first questions about Arab women as subjects is: For whom are they subjects? They are subjects locally, nationally, and internationally. Almost as much has been written in the West about Arab women as subjects as has been written in the Arab world. Why are Arab women of interest to the West, to other areas of the globe? The reasons usually given are: Arab women are seen as exotic, mysterious, and inaccessible sexual objects, organized by the harem, the veil, polygyny, and Islam; the secular West is obsessed with the Muslim world; the religious West is obsessed with Islam and, more recently, with the idea that Arab women are dangerous and threatening suicide bombers and terrorists. As Lila Abu-Lughod (2002) eloquently outlined, there is also the rescue motif—Arab women as victims, oppressed, having too little agency and therefore needing rescue; or as Chakravorty Spivak (1988, 297) contends, “White men are saving brown women from brown men.” The motifs of

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Arab women as subjects of Western representation are familiar images, expected templates. Edward Said (1978) and Malek Alloula (1986) analyzed the history of some of these images. Undertaking an analysis of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal over the past decade, I found depictions that reinforce much of the common assumptions of the representation of Arab women as voiceless objects of sexual desire and of patriarchal and religious oppression (Joseph et al. 2008). Like many scholars, I assumed a rather monolithic, unbroken representation of Arab women in Western print news media. However, as part of a larger project, I analyzed the representations of Arab and Muslim women in the New York Times from 1851-1920 and found a more complicated picture. While the expected representation was evident, so was the unexpected. Arab and Muslim women were at times depicted as entrepreneurial, active, strong, intelligent, adept, clever, educated, literate, worldly, and interested in change and modernization (Joseph forthcoming a). Query: This range of representation suggests a query about the genealogy of representation over the past century or so, how it is representation formed, and at what points it consolidates into particular imageries. The research on the New York Times raises another historical question: How do Arab women as subjects get to be constructed as “Arab women subjects”? Until World War I, the identifying labels in the New York Times were words such as “Ottoman,” “Turk,” “Syrian,” “Moslem,” and “Musslimann.” “Arab” was not often used in the New York Times articles until the 1930s and 1940s. The term “Arab” comes into full common usage by the 1950s. The decline and dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, Arab nationalism as a political project, and the creation of the state of Israel contributed to the formation of “Arab women as subjects.” That is, it is important to recognize that “Arab women” are relatively new historical subjects. They are newly constituted as a distinct category, a social identification. Their representation as Arab women is itself the product of historically specific political projects. Query: The representation of Arab women as such calls for a historical inquiry: What are the political projects that constructed women as Arab women, as Arab women subjects? How does the news media position Arab women as distinct from Jewish women, Kurdish women, Berber women, Assyrian, Chaldean, or Southern Sudanese (read: Chris-

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tian) women, or Maronite women, and the like? How do Arab women as subjects come to be constructed as standing in for a specific religion or ethnicity, or even a tribe when the category “Arab” is neither a religion, nor a tribe, nor an ethnic group, and when women are no more religious, tribal, or ethnic then their men? What does knowing religious, tribal, or ethnic affiliation tell us about subjectivity and intentionality?
Arab Women as Subjects of Culture

As subjects of representation, the category of “Arab women” almost always points to the most prominent feature of the familiar landscape: culture. Culture is the rock on which the house of “Arab women as subjects” is built in the media and in much scholarship. To deploy a category such as Arab women implies culture. Arab women are usually studied in terms of culture, and Arab culture is most often discussed in terms of women. As an anthropologist whose scholarly birthright is the category of culture, I find it a profoundly problematic, yet necessary, category. What does it mean to be Arab; Algerian; Iraqi; Lebanese; Sudanese? What is the imagined Arab nation; the imagined Arabic language; the imagined Arab religion; the imagined Arab history; the imagined “Arab woman” subject of scholarly intent? How do we draw the line from “culture” to “intentionality”? Perhaps one of the most subtle challenges to the construct of Arab culture and women is Lila Abu-Lughod’s (1993) Writing Women’s Worlds: Bedouin Stories, in which stories are told under chapter headings that could have been interchanged and talked about in many other ways, such as “Patrilineality,” “Polygyny,” and “Honor and Shame.” She writes culture, the women narrate culture, and yet culture dissolves as they speak and she writes. Abu-Lughod (2002, 344) also discusses the political uses of the equation of women with culture in colonial projects as well as nationalist projects to justify wars, violence, and domination. Arab women as subjects of religion, specifically of Islam, is a subset of the question of Arab women as subjects of culture. I do not here address religion separately, except to ask the obvious query: Might we study Christian women as subjects, Jewish women as subjects, Hindu women as subjects, Buddhist women as subjects as much as we study Muslim women as subjects? Each time the question of women as subjects in relation to Islam is raised, might we substitute Christianity,

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Judaism, Hinduism, or Buddhism in place of Islam and equally proceed with the research? Culture and religion are familiar shapes in the landscape. The category of “Arab culture” slips through the hands as soon as ethnicities, nationalities, class, race, education, rural and urban differences, tribal differences, language difference, historical and regional differences of colonialism, war, migration, and economics are considered. A similar sifting of sands through clenched hands dissipates the category of Arab women as subjects of Islam. Arab women as subjects of Arab culture or of any broad social collectivity raises problematic issues for inquiry. Yet we cannot dismiss the category of culture. One of the critiques I and others have made of psychoanalytic theory, for example, are its assumptions of universalism and the lack of cultural specificity. Feminist object relations theory, as well as classical psychoanalysis, did not address cultural difference for some time. Relational models of the subject and of intentionality subsume culture under relational matrices without investigating the sites where culture is produced and the ways in which culture operates on relationships. Thus culture remains a dilemma for both drive and relational models of the subject and of intentionality. Query: How can the question of culture be addressed with more nuanced constructs to study Arab culture as operating on, between, among, by, for, against, and with Arab women as subjects without essentializing or dissolving culture, so that “Arab culture” informs rather than obstructs analysis of Arab women subjects’ intentionality?
Arab Women as Subjects in and of Patriarchy

Arab women are studied as subjects of patriarchy—Arab patriarchy or neopatriarchy, or gender hierarchy and inequality—as much as they are studies as subjects of culture. At times, it seems as if some scholars equate Arab culture with Arab patriarchy. Arab societies are certainly bedeviled by systems of gender inequality that continue to need rigorous analysis. However, what is often missed in the study of patriarchy is the study of family. Arab families are highly diverse, and varied systems and sets of relationships and dynamics that cannot be described or defined by monolithic models of gender relations. Here I would cite the contributions of the Arab Families Working Group, which has moved away from the study of patriarchy to the study of the complex dynamics

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within families, the relationships between families and state, families and economies, families and migration, families and transnationalism, families and war/violence, families and marriage systems, families and domestic service, families and labor, and families and youth.4 The study of families not only exposes the diversity to examination, but reveals the complex attachments that Arab women have to their families. The study of families, in their pluralities and multiplicities, is positioned in many ways to challenge the study of Arab women as singular “individual” subjects and repositions them in the relational context of familial matrices that are so crucial to Arab societies. The study of families also raises the question of children and youth. Those 29 years old and younger—Arab youth and children—now constitute 60-70 percent of the population of Arab countries. They are mostly dealt with in the context of their families (Joseph forthcoming b). Query: Is the concept of patriarchy of any use now in the analysis of Arab women as subjects? What can we learn about Arab women as subjects by studying family systems as construction sites in systems of inequality, distribution, communication, production, reproduction, and the like?
Arab Women as Subjects of Politics

As with any identity group (religious, national, ethnic, racial, tribal), Arab women are constructed as subjects as a part of a process of difference-making. Arab women become Arab women as distinct from Israeli women, as distinct from Turkish women, as distinct from Iranian women, as distinct from French women, and so forth. They become subjects of specific political projects, distinct from other political projects. They are subjects of politics—locally, regionally, and internationally. Women as subjects of politics are subjects of colonialism, neocolonialism, colonial education, and the layered cultural makings of colonial subjects. When internationally recognized Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan, and Lebanese women writers think and write more comfortably in French then in Arabic, or when distinguished Egyptian, Palestinian, Syrian, and Emirati women scholars think and write more fluently in English than in Arabic—that is a legacy of colonial subject-making (Adnan 1990, Djebar 1993). Arab women were constructed as Arab women subjects in rela-

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tion to the project of Arab nationalism, starting in the late nineteenth century, gaining moment in the early twentieth century, and catching fire in the 1950s (Badran 1995, Baron 2007). The Arab nation and Arab nations construct women as citizens, non-citizens, mediated citizens, second-class citizens, nationals, non-nationals, or subjects of nationalism. Women become subjects of nation-states, which generate the domains of government agencies, non-governmental agencies (civil society), international NGOs with their funding priorities and powers, local and national laws (especially family laws), and international conventions (Joseph 2000). Nation-states catapult women as subjects into wars, violence, forced migration, and displacement. They institute regulatory regimes around identity, education, property, labor, reproduction. As subjects of nation-states, women are subjects of class, hierarchy, economic inequality, market forces, and globalization. They are also drawn into political movements—nationalist, justice movements, religious movements, women’s movements, labor movements, environmental movements, health movements, and literacy movements—which tend to be defined within or in relation to the boundaries of nation-states. These are subject-making political conditionalities for Arab women subjects. Elite women travel abroad for education, work, family reasons, tourism, and the like. Even as they remain in their own countries, they learn English, French, and other languages. International schools and universities have populated the region for more than a century. The United Arab Emirates with their Academic City and Qatar with its Education City have brought whole American campuses to build their educational systems. Their educational advisors are largely American. These are political projects of subject-making. And it is not an accident that in many Arab countries, especially in the Arab Gulf, there are more Arab women in schools of higher education then there are men. National television carries Brazilian and Mexican soap operas and American and French nightly dramas; the Internet connects young and old all over the world to the market of ideas; social media text messages a young woman in Iraq with a counterpart—who may be a relative—in London, or Paris, or Washington, DC. These are political subject-making conditionalities regulated by the politics of technology beyond the boundaries of colonialism and nation-states.

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Query: If Arab women came to be Arab women, at least partly, in the context of the political projects of Arab nationalism, how do we understand Arab women as subjects, in the context of the failure of the political project of Arab nationalism? Of what political object are Arab women subjects now? What are the transnational political projects constructing Arab women?
Queries: Thinking Subjectivity and Intentionality

Here I explore selected queries for further research on relational models of subjectivity and intentionality, as a provisional, thought piece for figuring an agenda for research.
Query 1. How Can We Conceptualize Malleable Selves, Unlocatable Subjects, and Intentionalities?

An image dominates contemporary Western discussions of “the subject”: Whether a woman is veiled, a university professor, a mother, or a medical doctor, a bedouin or a city dweller, there is an image of a figure, a body—a unit of study. The subject is an object that is visible, touchable, hearable. The subject is an individual, a detached entity, who navigates through complex, conflicting relations, but does not attach to anything and does not let anything that she does not choose attach to her. Earlier Orientalists and functionalists, on the other hand, assumed women were indistinguishable parts of collectivities—families, tribes, religious sects, ethnic groups, nations. Whether the subject is an actor, or the collective is an actor, agency, or its lack, has been located in that body, that frame, that visible object of observation. In this query, we might imagine, rather, that the subject is not locateable as an object of observation—not the body of a person, not the imagined collective actor, not a site. Imagine the subject as a reticulation of sites, a shifting networks of meaning and interaction. I do not suggest regarding subjects as not embodied, rather that we might consider that the body, the person, the site, may not be the most productive points of departure for locating the subject, or at least not the exclusive point of departure. We might consider the subject as constantly re-consolidating, re-configuring in relation—a notion of subjectivity that is always in motion, always in relation. A constant re-figuring locates the subject in the

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processes of re-figuring, the sites of re-figuring. Relationships constitute those locations. The query becomes: How do we conceptually capture the simultaneous solidity and fluidity? The task becomes one of methodology and language—creating an approach to the process and a vocabulary to describe the shifting consolidations. I use the term “connectivity.” Previously, I was tempted to use the term “reticular.” A reticulum is a system of lines, dots, cross hairs that resemble a net in appearance, a network. I have sometimes referred to this process as the networked self. However, even a reticulum or a network has nodes, dots, and lines. What would it mean to destabilize those nodes, dotes, lines? This constant reconfiguring is true of Arab women, as it is of Arab men (with differentials of power and hierarchy). What makes the Arab context somewhat different from the Western context, in which relational models of subjectivity and intentional were developed, is that in the Arab world, relationships are taken as given, the sociality of the subject is normative. Certainly in the Arab world there is the expectation of the solidity of the subject, but also the expectation that solidity is malleable. Perhaps the issue is who can transform the subject and under what circumstances. Perhaps the issue is the conditions under which subjectivity is more pliable, the relationships in which subjectivity is more malleable. Rather than theorizing selving in general, perhaps it is more productive to theorize the conditionalities and relationalities that affect pliability. Rather than theorizing “the” subject, what is needed are methodologies of observation to capture the moments and conditionalities of constructing subjectivity. In the Arab world (here I slip into culture and “Arabness”), the larger networked family and family-like relationships engage the subject in a continual play of malleability. The larger family establishes a lifelong context for relational re-figuring. What is gendered about this relational re-figuring are the workings of age, sexuality, and persona, relative to class, power, education, and region.
Query 2. How Can We Conceptualize Relational Talibat, Wishes, Needs, Desires, Claims, Expectations, and Demands?

A fundamental character of the subject entails the claims the subject has on others. In my research in Lebanon, I was constantly aware of “expectations” women and men had of others. Expectations are claims,

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entitlements, rights, or demands one has of others (as opposed to wishes, needs, desires). What does expectation say about relationships and the nature of the “subject,” of “subjectivity,” and of intentionality? How is the subject changed by whether it is entitled to expectations versus desires? In the commonly constructed rational actor model, the subject makes claims in rather contractual terms. The rational actor negotiates with partners, engaging by consent. These constructs were engaged in Lebanon; however women and men transported a host of expectations behaving as entitlements rather than negotiated claims. Women frequently spoke of talibat, what they wanted or wished for, and the expectations they (or their children or other family members) had for these talibat to be fulfilled by others. There is much to query on the questions of desire, what women want, what they ask for, and what they try to obtain and achieve. It cannot be assumed that all women want liberation, freedom, emancipation, secularism, or even freedom from patriarchy or religion. Nor is it the case that the meanings of these terms are shared across or within cultures (Abu Lughod, 2002, 348, Hafez 2011, Mahmood 2005). These are historically specific, contextualized desires. Of the women with whom I have worked in Lebanon for over four decades, for example, none have said to me that they want to be freed from their families or that they would trade their families for what they imagine American families to be like. Desires, like subjects, are continually constituted in relation. The query I pursue is the shifting of wishes, needs, desires, claims, and demands to a vocabulary of relationality. While I have written on relational desire (Joseph 2005), there is much yet to do to develop a method and a language that situates desire at the matrix of relationships.
Query 3. How Can We Conceptualize Wajbat, Duty, Responsibility, and Power?

The individualist self is the isolated bearer of responsibility (Gergen 2009, 8). Responsibility, however, is distributed through a web in relationally constituted subjects. Wajbat (responsibilities) are often rooted in family, embedded with morality, and at times sanctioned by religion. Leila Abu-Lughod’s (1986) insightful discussion of the Egyptian Awlad Ali bedouins’ choosing to embrace their duties offers a nuanced discus-

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sion of the relationship between duty and choice. More inquiry is needed into why a woman might feel obligated to care for, obey, or love an authoritarian father, husband, brother, mother, or sister—and how that may or may not be different from a man’s sense of obligation to obey and love. Egalitarianism, democracy, is no more natural or “in us” than inequality and hierarchy. Intentionality is wrapped tightly in a web of wajbat in Lebanon. A subject that accepts claims that are not always vetted contractually and not with consent is assumed to be oppressed or subordinated. Need this be so? Among the families with whom I am working in Lebanon, the subject is always enmeshed in high-density webs of claims. Perhaps the query requires comparisons of the density of claims, the patterns of claims, the sources of claims, and the responses to claims. Rhoda Kanaaneh (1995, 132) argues, “A woman cannot continue to be unclaimed.” A woman always belongs to someone. She is claimed, claimable. I would argue that, among the families with whom I work in Lebanon, both women and men are claimed and claimable. In a relational context, to be unclaimed is to be outside of society. It is a claims-bearing society; everyone has claims. The key is understanding the structure of claims, its gendering and hierarchies, and the conditionalities of structural or situational shifts in claims. In general, relational psychology has given secondary consideration to questions of power and hierarchy, in part because of the egalitarian predispositions in its theorizing or its hyper-focus on destabilizing the concept of the bounded self has detracted from grasping the differentials in permeable selfhood. There is a relative under-theorizing of patriarchy, race, class, and other forms of power in relational psychology. The queries that might be introduced are: Who gets to make which claims? What is the organization of power around claimants and claimed? A related query is: How does one study claims and expectations in a manner that does not essentialize claims and expectations? Claims and expectations, like wishes and desires, are situational and conditioned by class, resources available, age, gender, and persona. Class can be studied in terms of claims, expectations—the kinds of claims class standing entitles. And of course, claims-talk will evoke the topic of rights and the subject as the bearer of rights, about which I have written extensively elsewhere.

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Query 4. How Can We Conceptualize Intentional Subjects?

In the literature on Arab women, there is a tendency to conflate agency with intentionality. Many feminists rush to document the range of agency exercised by or lacking among women in Arab societies. This extensive literature and its debates need not be rehearsed here. Rather other queries might be informative. One query to be pursued is whether subjects must have intentionality to have agency and whether or not agency is a marker of intentionality. Indeed, must subjects have agency, have intentionality—and how would these manifest themselves in societal contexts of relationality? Must subjects know their own intentionality to own it? What does owning intentionality mean in the context of relational subjectivities? At what sites and through which methodologies does one study relational intentionalities?
Methodologies and Languages: Studying Re-Figuring Selves

Searching through anthropology, sociology, philosophy, political science, and psychology for common ground, I found few guiding concepts in the 1970s-1980s that could readily traverse cultures with subtlety and nuance, though more emerged by the 1990s. Particularly jarring was the common ground shared by multiple disciplines and paradigms, but most rationalized in psychology, that I was working to shift: the common assumptions rooted in the notion of the autonomous, bounded, individuated subject, driven by self-interest. Also jarring was the recognition that few disciplines outside of psychology had developed much in the way of methods or languages for the study of subjects and subjectivity. Until recently, the discipline of psychology has offered relatively little, at the level of theory, method, or language, specific to Arab or Middle Eastern societies. In comparison to other fields, psychology has been relatively under-populated in Middle East studies. The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America, the organization that brings together most scholars in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa who do research on the Middle East, reported in a 2008 Roster of Members that it had 3,042 members. Of these MESA members, only five identified as from the discipline of psychology. The largest single

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discipline was history (934), followed by political science (420), then literature (277) and anthropology (225). Only eighty-eight identified as sociologists, an important field for feminist psychoanalysis in the United States. While MESA does not represent all scholars of the Middle East, a study of its membership implies that the field of Middle East studies is overwhelmingly populated by historians and political scientists. The field of Middle East women’s studies is heavily populated by anthropologists. However, more energized interest in the discipline of psychology in Arab and Middle East studies has emerged in the past decade. More work is needed on methods of research, languages, analysis, and the writing of relational subjectivity and intentionality in the Middle East. Gergen (2009) proposes shifting the grounds of analysis of relational subjects through the practices of writing. He layers personal experiences, academic voices, poetry, commentaries of others, visuals and the like. Abu-Lughod (1993) is among the early scholars of Arab women to have experimented with writing practices as an approach to challenging concepts. How can we write, capture, and convey these shifting matrices of subjectivities? How can we observe relationalities, matrixical subjects, webs of intentionalities, and constantly shifting subjectivities? What can be written and what is impossible to write? Scholars work on creating self report and voices, inserting the observation into the observation, putting the pen (metaphorically) in the hands of the subjects, and using the language of the subjects rather than the language of the scholar/observer. Perhaps one of the most methodologically difficult paths of queries entails comparative work. Comparative work is needed to address questions such as: What is specifically Arab subjectivity and intentionality? What about it is specific to Arab women? Is this a query which can be pursued? Is the better part of scholarly wisdom to inveigh against the very concept of “the Arab woman as subject,” or is the better part of scholarly wisdom to press the haunting questions of culture, identity, subjectivity, intentionality in relation to Arab women?
And Then

There are no single definitive answers to these queries; there is no summation. A summation comes at a journey’s end. This project, like its subject, is shifting and changing. The language, vocabularies, methods,

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and approaches are in motion. Journeys may be known by the traces they leave, what they enable us to do as the journey proceeds. And then, it is the pursuit, not the answers, and the moments when the unspeakable subject has become speakable, the unwritable concept writable, the unanswerable query answerable.
Notes
1. Another genealogy would be to trace relational models in philosophy to the work of G. W. F. Hegel and perhaps tracked eventually to the work of Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Donzelot and others. Here I focus on psychology, as the discipline that has most powerfully impacted scholarly and popular notions of intentionality. 2. This paper was first presented at the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies ( JMEWS) Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of California, Los Angeles in May 2010. I would like to thank Sondra Hale and Nancy Gallagher, Editors of JMEWS at the time, for inviting me to present that lecture. The paper was also presented at the American University of Beirut. My thanks to Hoda Zurayk for that invitation and the participants for their feedback. Several of my students read and gave comments for revision: Sherine Hafez, Lena Meari, Kevin Smith, Tanzeen Doha. They were most helpful. I also thank Marcia Inhorn and Bonnie Rose Schulman for their patience and encouragement, without which this paper would have taken longer to publish. Of course, I am solely responsible for contents of the article. 3. Object relations theory has many genealogies, including the important work of Margaret Mahler, D. W. Winnecott, and Melanie Klein. For purposes of this paper, I follow Mitchell’s (1988) summary to condense the contributions. 4. See http://arabfamilies.org (accessed on November 8, 2011).

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