Historian from EHESS and UNESCO Gives Guest Talk on Women's Rights in Iran

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

gs_atieh_asgharzadeh_20171102.jpgAtieh Asgharzadeh, a historian from EHESS and UNESCO in Paris, was a guest speaker in Ruchi Anand’s class on Gender, Militarization and War on November 2nd. She gave a presentation on the theme of women’s rights in Iran, with a historical perspective: "Iranian Revolutions in the 20th Century: rupture and continuity in women’s rights and demands”.

Atieh Asgharzadeh focused on the impact that the 1906 and 1979 Iranian revolutions had on women’s lives in Iran – on their rights, their expectations, and their relation to men and to the Iranian society as a whole. She first looked at the active participation of women in the 1906 Constitutional revolution in the context of the Iranian patriarchal society where they had been excluded from the political space, to show the long-term effects that it has had: while some the achievements reached during that time were partially abolished during the three quarters of a century that followed and during the 1979 revolution, some of them have remained and have continued to influence gender relations. Her presentation used the press to examine the evolution of women’s rights and to discuss the difficulties women faced in their ability to adapt to and assert themselves in this new environment. Women’s achievements and losses expanding from one revolution to the other were caught in the clash between the progressive desire to grant them some rights and the juxtaposed patriarchal system that prevailed at the time. This contradiction was relayed by the press, which frequently criticized women while also promoting change and acting as a platform for state propaganda to promote the new ideal feminine model.

"Atieh's presentation brought alive discussions on the role of gender in international relations," said Ruchi Anand. "She skillfully mapped out the Iranian Revolutions and highlighted the rupture and continuity in women's rights and demands from a historical perspective. The students made the requisite links to the topic of the class (Gender, Militarization and War). They asked Atieh specific questions on women in the Iranian military through these revolutions and what feminism meant and means today in Iran and in the Iranian military as well as to her, herself. The responses fit the lens of 'Gender and/in War' that we have adopted throughout the semester. The most dynamic part of the talk was the Q and A where our students felt comfortable to fling some provocative questions at the speaker who gracefully and honestly answered as best as she could given her own constraints as a 'non-conformist'. This topic is so complex that many questions had to be left unanswered, for which we need to get her back for another guest talk at AGS"

Atieh Asgharzadeh obtained her Ph.D. in History from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris under the supervision of Arlette Farge. She focuses her research on gender and sexuality in the Middle East and particularly in Iran. Her dissertation Traditions, Social Upheavals: Women as Agents of Transformations the Iranian Press as site of expression (1963-1978) will be published in France by Non Lieu Publishing house (upcoming: January 2018).

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quote leftI aim to help my students prepare for life beyond "the groves of academe" - especially how to ask the right questions to work out what is really going on out there. Along the way, they practice writing lucidly and succinctly. It is stimulating teaching such a lively crew. I hope they also find it fun being challenged to analyse the facts without prejudice and to think originally.quote right

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