SURF

Kelley O’Dell

Invisible Voices: Hearing Queer Women and Queer Spaces in Amman, Jordan

Conversations about sexuality abound among the youth of Amman, Jordan, where same-sex sexual activity is permissible by government law, yet the general public is still very hostile towards the queer community. In such a stigmatized environment, queer identities are legal, but hardly publicly permissible. Nevertheless, clubs, cafes, and bars known for their toleration have emerged as hotspots for members of the local queer community. Through my research in Amman, I hope to experience the citys underground and public queer spaces, and explore how people interact both within and across them. Amman presents a unique opportunity with respect to studying queer culture because the queer community is flourishing, yet it remains relatively untouched by Western interest. This allows Ammans queer spaces to grow very organically. Ultimately, I will examine how queer women interact in, contribute to, and are marginalized by these spaces.

Message to Sponsor

I am inestimably grateful for the funding opportunities provided to me by the Wishek Fund, not only because international research is a unique and often untenable opportunity for undergraduates, but also because the literature surrounding my project is so underdeveloped as to limit the amount of information I can find online or in a library. My ability to gather interviews firsthand in settings where trust can only be gained in-person, promises to make an otherwise impossible project possible. I am excited not only to gather research for an honors thesis, but also to hopefully build upon my research this summer in graduate school. Thus, I owe much gratitude to my sponsors, who have provided me with this invaluable opportunity, and to my advising professors, who lend me the knowledge and the humility to make the most of it.
  • Major: Middle Eastern Studies, Arabic
  • Sponsor: Wishek SURF fellow
  • Mentor: Emily Gottreich, Center of Middle Eastern Studies Vice Chair and Adjunct Professor of History and International Area Studies