Zara Lal

Zara Lal

AM Candidate in Regional Studies—Middle East
Zara Lal

Zara graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honors BA in International Relations and Modern Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations. Her senior thesis, “State Feminism and Power Politics: Gendering the Arab Cold War and the Saudi-Iran Rivalry,” examined the correlation between hypermasculine foreign policies and state feminism projects, focusing on the relationship between national security, the legacy of colonialism, crises of sovereignty, and memories of war. She also presented at her university’s undergraduate research conference on how the colonial rewriting of socio-sexual scripts has created gender hierarchies and thus gendered notions of citizenship, nationalism, and modernity, evident in applications and debates in Islamic law today. At Harvard, Zara intends to further her Arabic skills and delve more deeply into the unofficial and official narratives through which the modern state comes to be. In this regard, she is especially interested in markets, intellectual trends, the socio-sexual re-scripting of citizenship, religious sensibilities, petro-modernity, authoritarianism, and security structures. She is particularly interested in cultural and literary insights towards understanding identity and regional politics in the wider MENA region.

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