Lila Abu-Lughod is the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University, and Professor of Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies. She is the Director of the Middle East Institute and former Director of the Center for the Study of Social Difference. Her courses focus on gender politics and nationalism in the Muslim world and on liberalism, culture, and the politics of human and women’s rights.
A leading voice in debates about gender, Islam, and global policy, her books and publications have been translated into more than 13 languages. Abu-Lughod's early work was on emotion, poetry, and gender ideology in a Bedouin community in Egypt. As an anthropologist of the Middle East, Professor Abu-Lughod could not avoid the politics of representation and so began to think about ethnographic writing itself, developing a critique of the concept of culture. Interests in gender in the Arab world and in postcolonial theory led to some work on the history and contemporary politics of Middle Eastern feminisms. She returned to the study of popular culture in ethnographic work on Egyptian television soap operas as they relate to national pedagogy, class politics, religious and gender identity, and modern subjectivities. Questions of national identification, violent disruption, and memory are at the center of work Professor Abu-Lughod then did on the Palestinian experience of 1948. She has just completed a book on the international circulation of discourses about the "oppressed Muslim woman." Publications include: Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society (1986), Writing Women's Worlds: Bedouin Stories (1993), Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt (2005), Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (2007), and Do Muslim Women Need Saving? (Harvard University Press, 2013). She co-edited Womens Rights, Muslim Family Law, and the Politics of Consent: Working Papers, Volume 1 (December 2011) of CSSD's journal SocialDifference-Online.