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, and, two years later, I obtained my MA (Hons) in Arab, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the same University.
Over the course of my studies, I focused my attention on contemporary socio-political changes in the Middle East, authoritarianism in the Arab World, Middle Eastern history, gender politics, relations between state and society, and women and youth activism.

My BA thesis - entitled “The Quiet Revolution of Saudi Women Writers” – focused on female literary discourse and Wahhabi political-religious rhetoric in Saudi Arabia. My MA thesis, entitled “Religion, Politics and State: The Elements that Define the Status of Women in Saudi Arabia”, investigated the cultural, political and religious reasons behind women’s submission within the Saudi society. The thesis also focused on the limits of Saudi women’s mobilization and future prospects for women’s empowerment in the country.

During my studies, I have been directly involved in annual academic research projects related to gender and politics in the Middle East, Islamic economics, the economic history of the Gulf States and Islamic studies. I worked on various academic research projects, namely, “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 2011 Egyptian Uprising”.

After my MA, I moved to the Middle East where I spent several years working and studying in 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.

While living in Amman (Jordan), I lectured for three years at the University of Jordan and I worked as an intern for two international NGOs. Throughout the internships, I gave my contribution to the development and realization of projects in support of both Syrian refugees living in Jordan and vulnerable Jordanians living in harsh conditions. In particular, I worked on projects which aimed at creating women’s employment opportunities by organizing training and workshops, providing education to vulnerable children outside formal education, and supporting victims of gender-based violence. As part of my training, I was also in charge of writing NGO project proposals and conducting parallel research studies on the project impact and assessment.


Conference Papers

“Deconstructing the Gender Normativity Narrative. Jordanian Young Men Challenge Notions of Hegemonic Masculinity”, 26th International DAVO/DMG Congress, Asien-Africa-Institute of Hamburg University, October 2019.

“Reshaping gendered boundaries in Jordan: Youth-led initiatives build new concepts of gender relations in the country”, The Eleventh Nordic Conference on Middle Eastern Studies, University of Helsinki, August 2019

“Nuancing Patriarchy: Jordanian Educated Youth and (Changing?) Notions of Masculinity”. BRISMES Annual Conference, University of Leeds, June 2019.

“The relation between socio-political identity and gendered features of spoken language emerging from the (re)definition of masculinity and femininity notions among the Jordanian educated youth”, Woolf Institute, University of Cambridge, June 2019.

“The coloured walls of Amman: artists’ appropriation of urban spaces between resistance and compliance to power”, workshop on Politics and Popular Culture in the Middle East: Power and Resistance Post-2011, University of Warwick, May 2019.

“Feminist Activism in Academia: Rula Quawas Struggle for Women’s Empowerment in Jordan”, 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 gender, culture and politics in the Middle East, and contemporary socio-political changes in Middle Eastern countries. Specifically, my research interests focus on Middle East gender politics and dynamics of social change, sociology of masculinities and femininities in Arab societies, Arab family studies, women’s rights in postcolonial states and relationship between gender, state, and society.

My PhD research aims to identify a potential shift in the dominant discourse on gender in Jordan, through an intersectional analysis of the educated youth’ gender roles and attitudes, as well as life expectations and aspirations 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 understandings amongst the educated youth. In my research, I apply a postcolonial study approach in order to avoid gender stereotypes based on culture and religion and to challenge western ethnocentrism. The overall aim of the research is to identify an emerging dissent between older and younger generations regarding young people’s expectations within family and society, and the possibilities for a redefinition of the dominant gender discourse in Jordan.

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


Professional memberships

  • British Association for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)



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