Mejdulene B. Shomali

Assistant Professor, Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies

“My approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion is informed by four commitments: to explore, analyze, and narrate experiences of queerness in Arab cultures; to create access and space in institutions for communities of color, particularly their queer and trans members; to build accountability and solidarity between marginalized and dominant communities; and to advocate for Palestinian liberation. I am guided by traditions from women of color feminism and Palestinian activism that foreground intersectional subjects and interdisciplinary approaches.

My scholarship is one example of how diversity, equity, and inclusion inform my work. Between Banat: Queer Arab Critique and Transnational Arab Archives studies same-sex desire and homoeroticism between Arab women in transnational cultural production. It is the first study of desire that addresses the contemporary cultures and lives of queer Arab women. By highlighting queer Arab women, femmes, and non-binary subjects, the book centers an overlooked community. Additionally, Between Banat brings Arabness in conversation with other bodies of scholarship, such as transnational feminist thought and queer of color critique. I also write poetry which concerns my experiences as a queer Palestinian living in diaspora. These forms reach different audiences, but both aim to diversify the canon through inclusion of queer Arab subjects.

As a feminist instructor, I devote my syllabi to authors who are underrepresented in the academy: trans and cis women of color, queer people, and Arab and Arab American scholars. By decentering hegemonic texts, my syllabi honor the contributions of minority communities and exemplify the ways their voices can crucially change and inform our pursuit of knowledge. Additionally, they offer students reflections of themselves in higher education. The capacity to see a version of oneself on the campus could be the difference between student success and student attrition. To this end, I also conduct university wide programming on Arab and Muslim experiences in the US, the first of its kind at UMBC.

As a queer Palestinian and the first of my family to pursue a PhD, I have experienced the academy as a site of transformation. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are necessary to create and maintain the university’s transformative capacity.”