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Rethinking Global Sisterhood

Rethinking Global Sisterhood: Western Feminism and Iran

Nima Naghibi
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Rethinking Global Sisterhood
    Book Description:

    Nima Naghibi makes powerful connections among feminism, imperialism, and the discourses of global sisterhood. Naghibi investigates topics including the state-sponsored Women’s Organization of Iran and the involvement of feminists such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem in the Iranian feminism movement. She also examines the veiled woman in the films of Tahmineh Milani, Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Kim Longinotto, and Mahnaz Afzali.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5422-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxx)

    An imaginative aunt who, for my ninth birthday, sent a copy ofThe Arabian Nights was, I suppose, the original cause of trouble.” Thus begins Freya Stark’s 1934 narrative of her travels in Persia,The Valley of the Assassins. This Orientalist evocation ofThe Arabian Nightsis a common feature in the many texts written by British and American women who traveled to Persia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.¹ Behind this evocation lies a consistent representation of Persia as exotic, accessible, and passive, and at the heart of this structure of representation one finds—almost inevitably—the...

  2. CHAPTER 1 Enlightening the Other: Christian Sisters and Intrepid Adventuresses
    (pp. 1-34)

    This chapter examines one aspect of Western women’s investment in Persia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: the involvement of American and British women during the 1905–1911 Constitutional Revolution and the period before it. Historians interested in locating a “modern” moment in Iran have argued that Iranian modernity was born out of the ideas leading to the Constitutional Revolution. Parvin Paidar has remarked that the discourse of Iranian modernity was mutable and that it went through four distinct phases in Iran; the Constitutional Revolution, she suggests, is the first of these four phases (1995, 27).¹ The idea...

  3. CHAPTER 2 Scopophilic Desires: Unveiling Iranian Women
    (pp. 35-73)

    For the past two hundred years, the practice of veiling is the site upon which discursive representations of enlightened feminists and their subjugated sisters intersect perhaps most markedly. Since the eighteenth century, the figure of the veiled Muslim woman has occupied a privileged place in the Western literary and cultural imagination, leading to overdetermined representations of the veil as a symbol simultaneously of abstention and debauchery. Accounts of erotic, mysterious, threatening, and enslaved harem women figure in the works of such writers as Richard Burton, Gustave Flaubert, Pierre Loti, Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu, Alexander Kinglake, Thomas Moore, James Morier, and...

  4. CHAPTER 3 Global Sisters in Revolutionary Iran
    (pp. 74-107)

    In this chapter, I will examine the cross-cultural engagements of 1970s Western liberal feminists with Pahlavi feminists to explore the tensions that arose between these two prominent feminist groups and anti-imperialist Iranian feminists who participated actively during the revolutionary period in Iran. The ultimate failure of cross-cultural feminist collaboration during the anti-imperialist feminist demonstrations of March 1979 epitomize, I believe, the limitations of the discourse of sisterhood.

    I have been arguing that the subject-formation of the Western feminist is predicated upon the figural abjection of the Oriental (in this case, Persian) woman, and that the prerevolutionary, state-sponsored Iranian or Pahlavi...

  5. CHAPTER 4 Female Homosocial Communities in Iranian Feminist Film
    (pp. 108-139)

    Since the late 1980s, Iranian cinema has gained a privileged status on the international film festival circuit. Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Dariush Mehrjui, and Jafar Panahi are among the most prominent Iranian male directors whose films have enjoyed international acclaim since the 1980s. But increasingly, the works of female directors such as Rakhshan Bani-Etemad and Tahmineh Milani (and a growing number of other directors such as Samira Makhmalbaf and Marzieye Meshkini) are being celebrated both in Iran and abroad. Milani’s films in particular contribute to a significant and forceful expression of feminist voices from within an Iranian context.¹

    Representations of...

  6. CONCLUSION: Communicating across Disciplines Post 9/11
    (pp. 140-146)

    In this study, I have attempted to trace the ways in which a certain truth about the abject Muslim (specifically Iranian) woman in need of rescue has become consolidated in liberal feminist discourse. As I tried to establish in the introduction and throughout this book, my argument is not predicated upon an East/West binary division; rather, I am interested in the cementing of certain stereotypes of the Muslim woman in a type of liberal feminism to which some “Western” as well as Muslim/Iranian feminists subscribe. I have endeavored to gesture to the ways in which discourses reproduce themselves, and thus...