This paper is concerned with Emirati women students’ spaces of inclusion and exclusion with specific focus on both their physical bodies and the places they occupy, and the mental space of their creative work where they forge a space for themselves. The paper employs ethnographic research at a women’s federal university campus in the UAE using several levels of data gathering and interviews while utilizing thematic and contextual analysis of the data sets. The work is backed up by the theoretical framework of feminist theory and Lefebvre’s perceived and conceived space. Lefebvre’s perceived space is represented through the physical presence of the female body, and its pure material representation, while the conceived space represents the mental abstract spaces constructed in these women’s writing that come to form a textual space of their own making. The findings emphasize these women’s lack of space, their exclusion, and their agency in utilizing their bodies as a space of their own while constructing other mental arenas beyond the material world to assert themselves. The resulting spaces are often seen as a rebellious and dissident medium against what social and cultural norms allow. Such actions, practices and representations of space are culturally and socially driven while being closely intertwined with their unique identity as Emirati women.

Author Biography

Dr. Gergana Alzeer is an Assistant Professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. Gergana has an interdisciplinary background in architecture, social sciences, education as well as advising and capacity building. Her research interest focuses on issues of space, place, gender and learning including the city and experiences within the city. Her recent publications and research investigate women learners’ spatiality with focus on social theories of space and the intersectionality of space, gender and learning.

Omnia Amin has been a Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences at Zayed University in Dubai, UAE since 2005. She has taught courses including English and Comparative Literature and Culture and Heritage, in addition to interdisciplinary courses. She joined NYUAD for one year in Fall 2017, as a Senior Humanities Research Fellow to conduct research on Emirati theatre. She is also a creative writer, translator and editor in chief of a book series for Palgrave Macmillan.