Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Faculty Scholar Seminar

Tied Up in Tehran: Women, Social Change and the Politics Of Daily Life

Norma Claire Moruzzi
Associate Professor, Departments of Political Science and
Gender and Women's Studies
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
University of Illinois at Chicago

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 2:00pm at the Great Cities Institute


Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach and based on extensive field work experience, the book project Tied Up in Tehran addresses one of the key paradoxes of contemporary Iran: women’s fragmented experiences of shaping a modern, urban identity in a postrevolutionary state that has explicitly Islamicized public institutions, space, and rhetoric, while also providing the conditions to enable women to emerge from the traditional private realm and engage actively as social and political agents. Although immediately after the 1979 Revolution the Iranian state tried to enforce a domestic, private, and religiously-defined traditional role for women, over subsequent decades both society and the state have become more accepting of women’s public participation in education, politics, and the workforce, and accustomed to their presence in mixed public spaces. Now, the argument in the Islamic Republic is not over whether women should be part of public life, it is over how they, and the youth of both sexes, should comport themselves as public and private citizens. In order to examine this gendered process of fundamental transformation within a highly politicized Muslim society and Islamic state, Tied Up in Tehran focuses on women’s public and private lives in the capital city, and the shifting dynamics of quotidian urban life: daily relations in the family, in the workplace, in the street, and on the body.

Speaker Biography

Norma Claire Moruzzi is Associate Professor of Political Science, Gender and Women’s Studies, and History, and Director of the International Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received a Ph.D. in Political Science from The Johns Hopkins University in 1990. Her research interests focus on the intersections of gender, religion, and national identity, particularly for Jewish and Muslim women. Her book Speaking through the Mask: Hannah Arendt and the Politics of Social Identity (Cornell University Press: 2000) won the 2002 Gradiva Award, and she has published articles on Iranian  cinema; politicized veiling in France and Algeria; contemporary feminist approaches to female circumcision; and nineteenth century intersections of religious revivalism and imperial policy. Her current project is a book analyzing transformations in Iranian women’s lives since the 1979 Revolution, tentatively titled Tied Up in Tehran: Women, Social Change, and the Politics of Daily Life. Since 1998 she has been regularly conducting field-work in Iran, as well as participating in and conducting workshops for women’s groups and contributing to local journals. She has developed close working relationships with a network of individuals, including established women’s activists, senior academics, editors, and urban planners, as well as a relatively new generation of recent Ph.D.s, students, and independent researchers.

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