Sex, citadel and the cross. Intimate life in big religions
Patrycja Sasnal’s interview with Monika Bobako
Mona Hatoum, "Measures of distance", 1988, video, 15:34 min
Patrycja Sasnal’s interview with Monika Bobako is another event of the summer cycle accompanying the exhibitions "Lest The Two Seas Meet" and "After Year Zero".
In the 19th century Gustav Flaubert travelled across Egypt for sexual entertainment - such ‘wonderful creatures’ as in the world of Islam could not be found in Europe, which was full of religious bigotry. Today, a century and a half later, sexually liberated artists of the West are indignant at the Muslim conservatism. In the grand narrative only extremes characterise the intimate life of the people of the South – they are viewed either as unbridled or full of inhibitions – standard sexuality is hard to notice.
One of the factors shaping the intimate life of Europeans, Arabs, and Africans is of exceptional importance: religion. Two big religions – Islam and Christianity – have been shaping the sexuality of the population inhabiting both sides of the Mediterranean Sea, but not in a vacuum. The social and political conditions and technological advancement periodically increased or decreased sexual frustration.
We will discuss the boundaries of sexual behaviour in Islam and Christianity, how they changed over the past quarter of a century, what standard sexuality is, and where a woman can be found in it on the basis of the exhibitions “After Year Zero” and “Lest The Two Seas Meet” and the book of Shereen El Feki entitled “Sex and citadel. Life in a Changing Arab World”.
Monika Bobako – philosophy PhD, graduate of Adam Mickiewicz University and the Central European University of Budapest. Lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Questions Lab of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. Author of the book “Democracy and difference: multiculturalism and feminism from the perspective of the policy of recognition”, Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, Poznań 2010. She is interested in multiculturalism, issues connected with race and racism, including the contemporary Islamophobia, and the problems of the post-colonial world, especially in Muslim societies. She is also exploring feminist issues, especially in the context of political philosophy and sociology of knowledge. At present, she is implementing a research project within the grant of a National Science Centre entitled “Contemporary humanities and the problem of Islamophobia in Europe”. She cooperates with research centres in the Maghreb countries.
Patrycja Sasnal – political scientist, Arabist, manager of the project "Middle East and North Africa" in the Polish Institute of International Affairs, Fulbright scholarship holder at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC, researcher at the American University in Beirut, lecturer of the Jagiellonian University. She is interested in the policy of Europe and the US in the Middle East and the social and political transformations in the Arab world. She published her articles in “Al-Ahram”, “Le Monde”, “EUobserver”, “Polityka” and “Gazeta Wyborcza”, among others.