I’m extremely happy to say that there is now an English-Arabic Gender dictionary available online thanks to the amazing work by Lebanon Support (دعم لبنان), one of Lebanon’s most invaluable information and research centres.
The dictionary, which was dedicated to Bassem Chit – the Lebanese revolutionary socialist who passed away in 2014 – and “to all the feminists and activists in Lebanon”, is 76 pages long and truly amazing. It doesn’t limit itself to merely translating words but allows the reader to learn about the historical background of each word and why it’s important.
Here’s some background of Lebanon Support and the dictionary:
Lebanon Support launched its Gender Equity and Information Network, part of the Civil Society Knowledge Center, in 2013. The main purpose of this knowledge production and sharing initiative is to bring together civil society organizations, researchers, practitioners and experts working together to enhance the development of, and access to knowledge and evidence-based research, information and literature on gender issues and concerns. Research findings as well as roundtable discussions all seemed to converge on an important knowledge gap in gender literature in Lebanon: a reflection and knowledge production on concepts and terms related to gender in Arabic was quasi non-existent. Practitioner’s initiatives do exist, but seem to either cover specific areas of focus often limited to gender based violence, or – if conceptualized more broadly – are displayed as glossaries.
This dictionary, that we have envisioned as a practical bilingual tool based on theoretical debates and empirical findings, aims to achieve at least the following objectives: to gather, in Arabic and English, original multidisciplinary research on gender and sexuality concepts and terms, from a feminist perspective and in a user and reader friendly format. Our aim is to look at the localized usages of the terms and concepts, examining their history and the contexts in which they have emerged, and how these concepts have “traveled”, transnationally, but also between the different spheres of activism, expertise or academia.
The bilingual dictionary is constituted of 25 entries, organized in alphabetical order with their equivalent and definitions in both Arabic and English. The terms and concepts have been selected based on a series of consultations with gender academics, experts and practitioners as well as activists in Lebanon. They cover established terms and concepts along with emerging ones, in an attempt to highlight the diversity of schools of thought, of paradigms and practices.
Each entry or definition proposes a general presentation of the term, a synthetic overview of its inherent debates with a focus on its local usages and understandings. This bilingual dictionary is the result of a long and intense journey for the Lebanon Support team; we thank all experts, activists, and academics who have contributed at all stages of its inception and production and hope it contributes to creating a space and opportunity for discussions among all actors in Lebanon and the region.
The print version was launched on the 25th of February and will soon be available at a number of libraries and bookstores across Lebanon.
This is pure intersectionality at work and I urge everyone to read it and share it with as many people as possible. Here’s an example, taking the intersectionality chapter (screenshot):
I briefly spoke to Lebanon Support shortly after publishing this article and this is what they had to add:
The Gender Dictionary is meant to be spread around and used to create discussion and debate, and that is why it is openly accessible online, and thus printable for individual use. (We actually make sure all our resources are openly accessible online as we believe in free access to information and knowledge). The book has actually been printed and is being distributed for free to local actors (collectives, NGOs, etc.). We are also currently in the process of distributing it to universities’ libraries, as well as some cafés with public libraries, and small independent bookstores where it will be sold for a symbolic fee that will go into sustaining our research activities. It was also distributed to individuals who attended the launch or who contacted us after, we just accept donations in return since Lebanon Support is a non-profit research centre.
The printed version of the Gender Dictionary has been very well designed and produced and we are trying to spread it as much as we can. So if you have some centres/organisations in mind that you would like to feature the Dictionary please do communicate these with us so we contact them and coordinate directly with them (they could already be on our list). Or if you want, we could put aside a few copies for you that you can pick up whenever you’re in Beirut and distribute to research centres/libraries in the UK. Feel free to email us at email@example.com to follow up on this.
Thoughts? They mentioned the UK because I’m currently living in London for my studies. Anyone has centers in mind? I’m guessing that they’re quite well-connected with centers in Lebanon but feel free to suggest centers anywhere in the Arab-speaking world or the West.
This dictionary has truly revolutionary potential. It allows us, Arabic-speaking feminists, to free ourselves from western loanwords that limit us to certain sections of the population. Whether we’re talking about the struggle for women’s rights or LGBTQ rights, migrant domestic workers’ rights or general labor rights, education or healthcare, or anything in between, we can and should use this dictionary.
The people who contributed to this project are:
Adriana Qubaia and Dalya Mitri (Research and Lebanon Support consultants), Georges Freiji (Translator), Randa Baas (Copy Editor), Sofia Agosta and Elia El-Khazen (Research Assistants), Bernadette Daou (Programme Coordinator), Lea Yammine (Content and Communication Manager), Marie-Noelle Abi Yaghi (Head of Research/Editor), Patil Tchilinguirian (Editorial designer and visual artist) as well as Hosn Abboud, Sara Abou Ghazal, Maya al-Ammar, Leila el-Ali, Rodolph Gebrael, Vincent Geisser, Alexandra Ghit, Raida Hatoum, Lara Jirmanus, Dima Kaedbey, Frank G. Karioris, Farah Kobeissi, Youmna Makhlouf, Charbel Maydaa, Noémi Michel, Ahmad J. Saleh, Farah Salka, Caroline Succar, Marianna Szczygielska, Rola Yasmine, Manar Zaayter and Manal Zreika.