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Women and Politics in Iran
Veiling, Unveiling, and Reveiling

$108.00 USD

  • Date Published: August 2007
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9780511292637

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About the Authors
  • Why were urban women veiled in the early 1900s, unveiled from 1936 to 1979, and reveiled after the 1979 revolution? This question forms the basis of Hamideh Sedghi's original and unprecedented contribution to politics and Middle Eastern studies. Using primary and secondary sources, Sedghi offers new knowledge on women's agency in relation to state power. In this rigorous analysis she places contention over women at the centre of the political struggle between secular and religious forces and demonstrates that control over women's identities, sexuality, and labor has been central to the consolidation of state power. Sedghi links politics and culture with economics to present an integrated analysis of the private and public lives of different classes of women and their modes of resistance to state power.

    • Incorporates women in Iranian history
    • Focuses on state-gender-religion relations
    • Addresses women's responses to the Iranian state, women's agency, and their resistance
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A very illuminating historical account of the ways in which gender has played a central role in Iranian politics. The processes of veiling, unveiling and reveiling provide a rich background around which much more is analyzed - from the efforts to control women's sexuality, to factors affecting women's labor force participation, to the active and important role played by women's agency at many levels. Sedghi has accumulated an enormous amount of information that documents Iran's development path and the historical, political, and cultural contexts that have shaped women's lives, gender dynamics and gender politics throughout the twentieth century and up to the present. The book is likely to become a key text for anyone interested not only in Iran and the Muslim world, but also in the wider issues of gender and development and of feminist politics.' Lourdes Benería, Cornell University

    'It is impossible to imagine more timely circumstances for the publication of Hamideh Sedghi's groundbreaking scholarship in the field of Iranian women's studies. Predicated on an illustrious and unparalleled record of solid scholarship, Hamideh Sedghi's Women and Politics in Iran: Veiling, Unveiling, and Reveiling is a comprehensive study of the vicissitude of the status of women in modern Iran from the Qajar period in the nineteenth century to the Islamic Republic in the twenty-first century. At a time that a lucrative and obscene genre of women's mémoire has hijacked and abused the legitimate cause of Iranian women's struggles for an illegitimate justification of global warmongering, Hamideh Sedghi's impeccable scholarship, judicious insights, and caring intellect sets the record straight and paves the way for a renewed commitment to the just and noble cause of women's liberation movements across the globe. One reads page after page of Hamideh Sedghi's learned book with a sigh of relief that against the grain of a treacherous time, the record and defense of women's struggles for freedom, justice, and equality are still in very capable and caring hands.' Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University

    'Highlighting the centrality of gender as a crucial category for understanding politics in Iran deftly, Sedghi's ground breaking book achieves multiple tasks: that in post-revolutionary Iran women are active agents of their own destiny and that they engage purposefully with the state, challenging its gender policies. She weaves in a theoretically and empirically sound framework for understanding the mutually constitutive relationship between the state's desire to controlling women's labor and sexuality in order to forge legitimacy and consolidate power, and women's resistance to articulate their own drives and objectives. Sedghi sheds light on the changing structure and function of veiling for women by taking a historical and comparative perspective within Iran, and thus challenging the Orientalist myth of oppressed and victimized women in the Muslim world. This book is a must read for every interested person in women and politics in Iran, in the Middle East and in the Muslim world.' Shahla Haeri, Boston University

    'Hamideh Sedghi provides a detailed, thorough investigation of gender and politics dynamics in Iran throughout the last three political periods – Qajar, Pahlavi, and Islamic Republic. Sedghi persuasively demonstrates that for each regime, women and control over defining women and their sexuality were significant in consolidating and presenting political power and identity. Particularly during the Pahlavi period and the Islamic Republic of Iran, women, their dress, and their place in society became a main focus in the struggle over power between the clergy and secularizing powers. Sedghi points out, however that the ability of these two governments to use women to their own ends has been limited and compromised by women's resistance and agency – which have also affected political developments and the evolving character of Iranian society.' Mary Elaine Hegland, Santa Clara University

    'A dynamic and provocative account about the ways in which the veil in Iran has been appropriated by the state to further its domestic and international goals. Rich in detail and using a historical approach, this persuasive book enhances our understanding about gender politics in modern day Iran.' Amaney Jamal, Princeton University

    'Animated by a deep love of country and family - including the strong women that were her grandmother, Mother, and sisters - Hamideh Sedghi enables us to understand the oppression and the stirring willingness to fight for justice of women in three stages of Iran's political and economic development … Vivid portraits, sometimes in a few lines, sometimes in several pages, of courageous Iranian women who dared to confront authority, enliven and illuminate a narrative that has broad theoretical significance for understanding what happens to women everywhere....No study of Iran gives us a better picture of Iranian women in all of their complexity - whether pro-regime or anti-establishment, urban or rural, religious or secular - and in all of their dimensions of class, philosophy, and political alliances than does this landmark volume.' Irving Leonard Markovitz, Queens College and the Graduate Center, the City University of New York

    'Through the lens of the veil Hamideh Sedghi produces a stunning account of the multiple positionings of women in a complex history. The veil functions as an instrument making legible a century long battle between women and the state in Iran. The depth of knowledge and the original research the author brings to the subject makes this study a window into a foundational process, one not confined to Iran or to the veil.' Saskia Sassen, University of Chicago, author of Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages

    'This book demonstrates that achieving a complex understanding of women's social and political roles is integral to comprehending a country's political and economic systems. It therefore provides both an essential lesson for political analysts in general and much needed insights into Iran's specificities, not least the prominent place women have had in its modern history.' Anne Showstack Sassoon, University of London

    'Political scientist Sedghi (visiting scholar, Harvard) offers interdisciplinary study of the relationships among women, the state, and religion in Iran during the 20th and early 21st centuries...Drawing on published information, personal experiences, and interviews, the authors discusses women, their place in society, and their forms of dress as each of these factors relates to the struggle over power between the Muslim clergy and secularizing forces … Summing up: Recommended.' L. Beck, Choice

    '[T]his book is an important contribution. It will prove a resource both for the scholar and the student, filled as it is both with data and references, on the one hand, and with engaging, well-written accounts of a turbulent period of history, on the other. It is both jargon free and condescension free and will, I believe, find a place on many reading lists and in many bibliographies.' Louise Halper, Washington and Lee University School Of Law, Politics and Gender

    'Sedghi argues in her book that since the early 20th century until today women's sexuality has been at the core of the struggle between different social forces in the political system of Iran. In her extraordinary book on Iranian women Sedghi analyses from a gender perspective socio-economic transformations in Iran from the early 20th to the 21st century. She argues that it is vital to set the themes of 'veiling' under the late Qajar Shahs in the early 20th century, 'unveiling' under the Pahlavi Shahs (1921–79), and 'reveiling' since the Islamic revolution in 1979 in their historical and cultural context to understand women's lives in Iran.' Eva Patricia Rakel, University of Amsterdam

    'Sedghi writes with a dual purpose in this book: to demonstrate within gender studies that to understand these state contests over control of women's bodies, we must understand their connections to historical political economy, both domestic and international; and to demonstrate to those who study the state that they will never understand historical developments in Iran - or elsewhere - unless they gender their analyses … She makes a strong case for both these arguments, drawing on extensive documentation, many Persian sources not previously accessed, letters, journals, poetry and other writings of Iranian women, extensive interviews, and her own experiences growing up in Iran … She provides a rich account of historical gender politics in Iran … Sedghi's account offers many points of contact for fruitful comparative gender analysis.' Judith Van Allen, Socialism and Democracy

    '[T]he book delivers access to many primary sources unavailable outside Iran. Sedghi's historical analysis of role of women's body by three consecutive regimes in modern Iran enriches the existing literature on the contested terrain of politics, religious ideology, and gender narratives.' Shahin Gerami, Iranian Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2007
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9780511292637
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Women in Early Twentieth Century Iran:
    1. The Qajar dynasty, patriarchal households, and women
    Part II. Women in the Kingdom of the Peacock Throne:
    2. The Pahlavi dynasty as a centralizing patriarchy
    3. Economic development and the gender division of labor
    4. The state and gender: repression, reform, and family legislation
    5. Gender and the state
    Part III. Women in the Islamic Republic:
    6. The 1979 revolution and the restructuring of patriarchy
    7. The gender division of labor
    8. Politics and women's resistance.

  • Author

    Hamideh Sedghi
    Hamideh Sedghi the first Iranian woman in the United States to write on women in Iran from a social science perspective. She has contributed to Encyclopedia Iranica, United Nations publications, New Political Science, Politics and Gender, Socialism and Democracy, and Review of Political Economics among other journals, as well as a few book chapters. Sedghi is the recipient of many awards and honors including the 2005 Christian Bay Award for the Best Paper presented at the American Political Science Association's Caucus for a New Political Science.

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