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Crafting Alternative Femininities on the Public Stage

Women Performers of Ethnic Music in Contemporary Istanbul

Alexandra Courchesne

This article investigates the strategies women performers of ethnic music in contemporary Istanbul employ to escape the common associations of women of 'loose morals' and to craft alternative femininities on the public stage. How have women playing this music genre been able to do so while, at the same time, gaining and maintaining social respectability? Drawing on fieldwork in Istanbul, the article argues that ethnic music provides better opportunities for women to build their musical careers and to be perceived seriously for their artistic talents. Ethnic music's specific audience, locus of performance, repertoire, flexibility in dress codes and its performers' frequent associations with feminist organisations are all factors helping women to shape their own interpretation of what a woman musician in the twenty-first century could be.

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Egyptian Football Ultras and the January 25th Revolution

Anti-corporate, Anti-militarist and Martyrdom Masculinities

Manal Hamzeh and Heather Sykes

This article examines the masculinities of Ultras football fans during and after the January 25th Egyptian revolution, within the interlocking systems of power of neoliberalism, militarism and Islamism. The Ultras' anti-corporate masculinities were strengthened through protests against satellite TV and the Egyptian Football Association, while they also developed anti-militarist masculinities as they protested business elites, Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Central Security Forces. The Ultras developed martyrdom masculinities due to their shock over the Port Said stadium massacre and subsequent retribution protests. The Ultras may be reiterating hegemonic masculinities operating within the same patriarchal logic of the three regimes. Their grief and shock may be limiting their self-reflexivity and capacity to build coalitions.

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Introduction

Sexuality, Culture and Public Politics in the Middle East

Homa Hoodfar

The role of sexuality in the construction of various social institutions and in the maintenance of power hierarchies has long been a significant focus of anthropological research (Leacock and Safa 1986; MacCormack and Strathern 1980; Wolkowitz et al. 1981). Indeed anthropologists and sociologists have been mindful of the extent to which sexuality constitutes a highly contested terrain that is tightly patrolled by religious forces, morality codes and state institutions in all societies (Gole 1996; Hélie and Hoodfar 2012; Lancaster and di Leonardo 1997; Lee 2011; White 2002). However, in recent decades, the fragmenting of sexuality studies into studies of gender roles, reproductive rights, sexual orientation, studies in masculinities, and even honour killing and violence against women, has resulted in depoliticising sexuality: without clearly linking the various aspects and arenas in which sexuality is salient, the centrality and complexity of politics of sexuality to power structures are easily lost.

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Love Is Culture

Al-Hubb Thaqafa and the New Frontiers of Sexual Expression in Arabic Social Media

Shereen El Feki, Elise Aghazarian, and Abir Sarras

Al-Hubb Thaqafa ('Love is Culture') is a new Arabic social media platform, providing accurate and unbiased information on love, relationships and sexuality. Its website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel offer visitors unprecedented opportunities for interaction, exchanging ideas and opinions not only with experts affiliated with Al-Hubb Thaqafa, but also with fellow users; for all the high hopes of greater freedom of expression in the wake of the 2011 uprisings, such opportunities remain rare, in both politics and personal life, in most countries of the Arab region. Although its content, and language, were initially designed for an Egyptian audience, Al-Hubb Thaqafa has attracted Arabic-speaking visitors from around the world; its combined platforms have been visited more than nine million times since its launch in March 2014.

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Love, Motherhood and Migration

Regulating Migrant Women's Sexualities in the Persian Gulf

Pardis Mahdavi

This article looks at the confluence of love, labour and the law by focusing on the regulation of migrant women's sexualities in the Gulf Coast Cooperation countries of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Migrant women increasingly comprise the majority of migrants to the region as the demand for intimate labour in the Persian Gulf is on the rise. But migrant women who become pregnant while in the Persian Gulf are immediately imprisoned and charged with the crime of zina. These women give birth while incarcerated and spend up to a year with their babies in prison. They are then forcibly separated from their children when they are deported, rendering the children stateless in the host country. Migrant women who are often brought to the Persian Gulf to perform (re)productive labour are seen as immoral if they engage in sexual activities during their time in the Persian Gulf (and this is written into their contracts), and thus are seen as unfit to parent their own children. Some migrant women have recently been protesting these laws by refusing and fighting deportation without their children. This article contrasts discourses about migrant women's sexuality and legal analysis with the lived experiences of selected migrant women and their children through ethnographic research conducted in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City between 2008 and 2014.

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(Re)Fashioning Resistance

Women, Dress and Sexuality in Iran

Shirin Abdmolaei

Functioning as a socio-political resource and method of discipline and control over women's bodies and sexualities, mandatory Islamic dress in Iran has been a central feature of the Islamic Regime's policy towards women. Intended to stand as a symbolic discourse of women's social and sexual submissiveness and docility, those who resist dress codes are subjected to severe punishment as well as stigmatisation. Despite repercussions, increasing numbers of urban Iranian women are refashioning their public bodies in new styles and appearances to not only resist dress codes but to more importantly challenge the regime's patriarchal discourses regarding women. This article seeks to examine the politicisation of Iranian women's bodies and sexualities through the emergence of this innovating women's resistance movement termed 'alternative dress'.

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Reports

Publications

Lina Sayed, Ana Ghoreishian, and Leila Mouri

Shereen El-Feki (2013), Sex and Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World (London: Chatto and Windus), 345 pp., ISBN: 24681097531, £8.99.

Afsaneh Najmabadi (2013), Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (Experimental Futures) (Durham, NC: Duke University Press), 450 pp., including 22 photographs + 2 tables, ISBN: 978-0- 8223-5557-1, U.S.$27.95 (pbk).

Samira Aghacy and Evelyne Accad (2009), Masculine Identity in the Fiction of the Arab East Since 1967 (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press), 232 pp., ISBN: 978-0-8156-3237-5, U.S.$34.95.

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Women and Sexuality in Contemporary Iran

When HIV Meets Government Morality

Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi

In Iran, as in many countries worldwide, misinformation and ignorance of HIV/AIDS have encouraged a culture of secrecy and anonymity for those living with HIV. For many HIV-positive women, religious, political and economic pressures complicate their social status and access to health care. Moreover, they must contend with societal discrimination and stigmas associated with the condition. Adding nuance to contemporary studies on gender and sexuality in Iran, this report highlights the colourful narratives of a select group of HIV-positive mothers attending weekly wellness workshops in Tehran. Discussing issues of intimacy, modesty, motherhood and stigmatisation, this article explores one of Iran's expanding communities at risk of infection and the ways in which women with HIV negotiate the stigma of their condition in an Islamic Republic.

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Women's Dress and the Politics of Access to Political Representation in Contemporary Turkey

Mona Tajali

Male leaders have often used women's bodies and dress as a means to regulate their access to formal politics, including to national parliaments. Through an analysis of women's activism surrounding the expansion of headscarved women's access to the parliament during the 2011 parliamentary elections in Turkey, I argue that pious women's public protests against discriminatory actions of male leaders towards headscarved women's candidacy challenged the hegemonic symbolism surrounding the headscarf as articulated by both secularist and conservative religious forces. The consequent discourse shift offered a new perspective on women's sexuality in the public arena and brought secular and pious women's rights groups, who rarely saw eye to eye with one another, closer as they realised that imposed dress codes are vehicles for their exclusion from formal politics.

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The Contemporary Structures and Historical Formation of the Khawlān and Jumā'ah Tribes in Sa'dah, Northwest Yemen

Marieke Brandt

Khawlān and Jumā'ah are two out of eight tribes of the Khawlān b. 'Āmir confederation in Southwest Arabia, the territories of five of them being in Yemen and three in Saudi Arabia. Whereas the Yemeni tribes Munabbih, Sahār and Rāzih are well explored, little is known about the tribal structures of Jumā'ah and the homonymous tribe Khawlān. This article provides an overview of the present-day tribal structures of Khawlān and Jumā'ah, and traces their historical formation through comparison with the respective information available in the historical and geographical works of the Yemeni geographer and historian al-Hasan al-Hamdānī, dating back to the tenth century AD. The results of this study show that Jumā'ah and Khawlān were historically open to processes of social, spatial and genealogical changes. Whereas Jumā'ah can trace its lineage directly back to the ancestor Khawlān b. 'Āmir, Khawlān tribe represents a much looser entity of mutual alliances, which corresponds to its lack of genealogical coherence. Among Khawlān and Jumā'ah, the rhetoric of shared 'ancestry' is thus to a greater or a lesser extent a statement of identity and follows the general Middle Eastern practice in conceptualising groups as kin.