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Negotiating Dissidence

The Pioneering Women of Arab Documentary

Stefanie Van de Peer

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The first book to trace the female pioneers of Arab documentary filmmaking

In spite of harsh censorship, conservative morals and a lack of investment, women documentarists in the Arab world have found ways to subtly negotiate dissidence in their films, something that is becoming more apparent since the ‘Arab Revolutions’. In this book, Stefanie Van de Peer traces the very beginnings of Arab women making documentaries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), from the 1970s and 1980s in Egypt and Lebanon, to the 1990s and 2000s in Morocco and Syria.

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List of Images
Chapter 1: Ateyyat El Abnoudy: Poetic Realism in Egyptian Documentaries
Chapter 2: Jocelyne Saab: Artistic-Journalistic Documentaries in Lebanese Times of War
Chapter 3: Selma Baccar: Nonfiction in Tunisia, the Land of Fictions
Chapter 4: Assia Djebar: Algerian images-son in Experimental Documentaries
Chapter 5: Mai Masri: Mothering Filmmakers in Palestinian Revolutionary Cinema
Chapter 6: Izza Génini: The Performance of Heritage in Moroccan Music Documentaries
Chapter 7: Hala Alabdallah Yakoub: Documentary as Poetic Subjective Experience in Syria
Works Cited

About the Author

Stefanie Van de Peer is Associate research Fellow for a 3-year AHRC project on Transnational Moroccan Cinema, at the University of Exeter. She holds a PhD in postcolonial cinema from the University of Stirling in Scotland, where she focused on political filmmaking by women from North Africa.


Disputing the notion that documentary exploits the vulnerable, Van de Peer’s fascinating study of great Arab women documentarists shows how subject, filmmaker, and viewer can collaborate in the creative work of solidarity and understanding. Rich with historical context, the book is also an ideal introduction to Arab cultural history since 1967

- Prof Laura U. Marks, Simon Fraser University

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