LAWRENCE – An Egyptian activist, who is an outspoken author and human rights advocate, will deliver the 2011 Marwa Africana Lecture on Sept. 14 at the University of Kansas.
Nawal El Saadawi, a psychiatrist, is a renowned feminist and activist who has openly addressed issues such as prostitution, female genital mutilation and discriminatory family laws. Exiled from her home country of Egypt for years, she was jailed by President Anwar Sadat for crimes against the state and has endured threats on her life. She has written more than 40 books, including one she penned while imprisoned on a roll of toilet paper with an eyebrow pencil smuggled to her. Some of her books have been banned in Arab countries.
El Saadawi began expressing her discontent with the Egyptian government 40 years ago. She lost her job in the Egyptian Ministry of Health because of her writings, which were banned, in part, because she linked sexual problems to political and economic oppression. Earlier this year she was in the thick of the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Her books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and she has been awarded several international literary prizes.
Her lecture, “Creativity & Dissidence,” will speak to how those topics relate to revolution and will include topics such as patriarchy, class, religion and education. The lecture, at 7 p.m. in the Woodruff Auditorium of the Kansas Union, will be followed by a reception and book signing in the Union’s Traditions area. The event is free and open to the public.
The Marwa lecture series was established in 2003 through a gift from M.B. Marwa, a Harvard graduate and a Nigerian political and business leader. It is devoted to bringing distinguished leaders in Africa and the African Diaspora to KU to discuss matters of importance to Africana. El Saadawi’s lecture is presented by the Department of African and African-American Studies, the Kansas African Studies Center, the Langston Hughes Center and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It is co-sponsored by The Hall Center for the Humanities, The Center for Global & International Studies, the departments of Anthropology, Communication Studies, Economics, English, Film & Media Studies, French and Italian, Geography, Political Science, Sociology, Theatre and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and the Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center.