Saving Muslim women in the era of Axis of Evil? : pious women’s movement advocates in Iran, 2001-2010
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This thesis aims to investigate US foreign policies in the post-9/11 world, focusing on the ways in which they affected the Iranian women’s movement after Iran was included in the Axis of Evil in January 2002. The focus of the thesis draws on the Bush Administration’s decision to use Muslim women’s human rights as moral justifications for the War on Terror. The thesis argues that, despite the US commitment to Iranian women’s human rights, Iranian women’s movement advocates have found themselves in an even more challenging environment. Both the physical and discursive spaces for women’s activism has been narrowed due to the increasing violence, deteriorating living conditions resulting from the US/Western sanctions and hardline nationalist-militaristic politics. Drawing mainly on postcolonial feminism, the thesis evaluates how artificially enacted gendered, racial and sexualised exclusions and borders contributed to this. The thesis contends that after 9/11, the Bush Administration’s identity became hypermasculinised and this effectively led to the transnationalisation of violence that often materialises itself on the bodies of Feminine Others, which in this case was the Iranian Feminine Other. What further informed the Bush Administration’s identity formation and policies was the anxious logic of orientalism. The thesis examines how this orientalist anxiety built and sustained much of the US post-9/11 (in)security imaginary. The thesis makes the argument that orientalist anxiety produced two orientalised bodies, that of the Dark Monster and the already mentioned Feminine Other. This specific framework allows us to complicate the US conceptualisation of the Self as disconnected and unrelated to the Other and how the Self justifies the Other’s disciplining and policing via this disconnectedness. The thesis calls for a political vision that engages with difference, alternatives and real life experiences and eventually recognises everyone’s right to security.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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