1990 First Women

Jean Said Makdisi: A writer, feminist, and historian

In her memoir, Beirut Fragments: A War Memoir (1990), Jean Said Makdisi depicts life in war-torn Beirut. She describes neighbourhoods, buildings, and streets, exploring how each of these constructs contributes to the creation of a “landscape of memories” encompassing the war and people’s painful experiences within it. In her second book, Teta, Mother, and I: An Arab Woman’s Memoir (2005), Makdisi interweaves the personal, the domestic, social, and political spheres of three generations of women in her family across time and space. In an interview with Makdisi, the author spoke of her multi-layered identity, whereby she identified herself differently at different stages of her life. She currently considers herself to be an inquisitive writer who attempts to highlight the everyday stories of Arab women, and a lifelong feminist who continues to participate in and organise conferences, conventions, and debates about these themes 1. She also identifies as a mother, wife, and sister, as those roles coloured and contoured her manifold contributions to – and understanding of – feminism. She is also a member of the Lebanese Association of Women Researchers, where she writes on the lives of women living in the 1920s, the changes brought about by the World War I, and depictions of masculinity.