Ivana Cosmano

Ivana Cosmano


I completed my BA (Hons) in Asian and African Languages and Cultures at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Italy, in 2011, with a specific focus on the study of the Arabic and Hebrew Languages and Cultures. In 2013, I obtained my MA (Hons) in Arab, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the same University, with a thesis on Gender Politics in Saudi Arabia.
Over the course of my studies, I focused my attention on contemporary socio-political changes in the Arab countries, social media, human rights, digital activism, gender politics, female literary discourse and Wahhabi political-religious rhetoric in Saudi Arabia.
In my BA thesis, titled The Quiet Revolution of Saudi Women Writers, I explored the revolutionary potential of Saudi women’s literary discourse and how these writers are defying the traditional values of the Saudi patriarchal society through their literature. My research work included the selection and translation from Arabic into Italian of Badriya Al-Bishr’s short stories and an interview with the writer about women’s status in Saudi Arabia.
With my MA thesis, titled Religion, Politics and State: The Elements that Define the Status of Woman in Saudi Arabia, I investigated the cultural, political and religious reasons that have led to the submission of women in the Saudi society. I have also analysed the prospects and limits of women’s mobilization in Saudi Arabia and the spread of "divide et impera" politics in the social media. I have been directly involved in annual academic research projects related to gender and politics in the Middle East, Islamic economics, economic history of the Gulf States and Islamic studies. I worked on various academic research projects, such as: Economic Diversification in the GCC Countries – the Case of Bahrain and Qatar; The Wahhabism and the House of Sa’ud; Amina Wadud’s Gender Jihad: Feminist Exegesis of Qur'an 4:34; Women and Literature in Saudi Arabia; Kabylia: the 1871 Insurrection; and The Humour in the Egyptian Uprising.

After my MA, I moved to the Middle East where I spent four years working and studying in two countries, Kuwait and Jordan. During this period, I had the chance to foster my knowledge of Arabic language and culture being fully funded to study at the Kuwait University and at the University of Jordan. Then I lived in Amman where I worked as an Italian Language teacher at the University of Jordan and at the Dante Alighieri Society. During my stay in Amman, I worked also as an intern with two NGOs. This experience has been incredibly enriching for me as it enabled me to get an inside look at the world of human rights advocacy and Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan. Throughout the internships, I was given a range of interesting tasks to support refugees who fled Syria to Jordan, including aid distribution, protection, shelter, and education projects. I have conducted interviews and I have written reports and research papers. Moreover, I have assisted to a number of conferences and meetings on gender-based violence prevention and women’s economic empowerment of Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Conference Papers

"Feminist Activism in Academia: Rula Quawas Struggle for Women`s Empowerment in Jordan", Challenging Presumptions PGR Conference, School of Languages, Cultures & Societies, University of Leeds, May 2018.
"The Influence of Arabic on the Italian Language", Arab Open University, Amman, February 2017.

Journal Articles
Cosmano, I. 2016. "Al via le lezioni per i bambini siriani in Giordania", [Online]. Available at: http://www.unponteper.it/it/2016/06/al-via-le-lezioni-per-i-bambini-siriani-in-giordania/
Cosmano, I. 2016. "Il sogno di una nuova vita per le famiglie siriane", [Online]. Available at: http://www.unponteper.it/it/2016/05/giordania-il-sogno-di-una-nuova-vita-per-le-famiglie-siriane-2/
Cosmano, I. 2016. "Siria. Storia di una sposa “temporanea”, Osservatorio Iraq, Medioriente e Nordafrica. Available at: http://osservatorioiraq.it/migrando/siria-storia-di-una-sposa-temporanea

Norwegian Refugee Council (Jordan). 2016. IASC Guidelines for Integrating Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action. [Online].
Humanitarian Academy at Harvard. 2016. Building a Better Response. [Online].
UN Women Training Centre. 2016. Different Needs – Equal Opportunities: Increasing Effectiveness of Humanitarian Action for Women, Girls, Boys and Men. [Online].

Research interests

My research interests are in the fields of Middle Eastern Studies, with a specific focus on gender politics, postcolonial theories, civil society, women’s activism and contemporary socio-political changes in Middle Eastern countries.

My PhD project aims to analyze the potentiality for change in the patriarchal structure of Jordan, through the investigation of young educated people’s attitudes towards gender roles, and their expectations within family and society. The research seeks to explore the pluralities of men’s and women’s subjectivities - despite people’s common cultural and religious background - by investigating how patriarchy operates differently depending on the intersection of class, place of residence, ethnicity and religion in the case of Jordan. The research also aims to explore the social construction of masculinity and femininity as well as its current understanding amongst the educated youth. The research poses further questions regarding a possible redefinition of the dominant gender discourse in Jordan, by identifying an emerging dissent between older and younger generations regarding young people’s expectations within family and society.

My research project is fully funded by the LCS Award for Excellence.



  • MA (Hons) in Arab, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • BA (Hons) in Asian and African Languages and Cultures