College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

8-2011

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

Women & Gender Studies

Keywords

diaspora and cultural displacement, feminist ethnography, gender and youth, Iran, agency and resistance

Abstract

The aim of this project works against the stigmatization of Middle Eastern women in the West by examining women's experiences of resistance and agency within the diaspora and in Iran. Through a feminist ethnographic analysis of Iranian women's narratives, I work against Western stereotypes as a way to problematize the assumption that immersion in Western culture "saves" Middle Eastern women from their supposed cultural and religious "victimization." The focus of my inquiry is centered on four issues, or themes, of analysis, which are: everyday acts of resistance, subversion, and negotiation, issues of dress, household dynamics, and women's values and self-expression. Drawing on secondary academic research (including anthropology, critical and comparative gender studies, and transnational feminist theory), this project is designed to further understand how the dynamics of subversion, resistance, and agency that take place within the micro-practices of these women's daily lives impact or improve their ability to exercise individual agency against societal limitations and against the State at large. I argue that despite common assumptions made about Middle Eastern women in the West, Iranian women exercise as much, if not more, social agency in Iran as they do in America.

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