The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran

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Overview

In The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran, Arzoo Osanloo explores how Iranian women understand their rights. After the 1979 revolution, Iranian leaders transformed the state into an Islamic republic. At that time, the country's leaders used a renewed discourse of women's rights to symbolize a shift away from the excesses of Western liberalism. Osanloo reveals that the postrevolutionary republic blended practices of a liberal republic with Islamic principles of equality. Her ethnographic study illustrates how women's claims of rights emerge from a hybrid discourse that draws on both liberal individualism and Islamic ideals.

Osanloo takes the reader on a journey through numerous sites where rights are being produced—including Qur'anic reading groups, Tehran's family court, and law offices—as she sheds light on the fluid and constructed nature of women's perceptions of rights. In doing so, Osanloo unravels simplistic dichotomies between so-called liberal, universal rights and insular, local culture. The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran casts light on a contemporary non-Western understanding of the meaning behind liberal rights, and raises questions about the misunderstood relationship between modernity and Islam.

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Editorial Reviews

Law Library Journal

The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran is most appropriate for academic law libraries. It could, perhaps, prove a useful addition to a law firm library as well, particularly for a firm that serves a substantial clientele from an Iranian or Islamic background. The text is written at quite a high level, which prevents me from recommending it for all but the most scholarly types who also have a specific interest in the subject matter.
— Kama Siegel

American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences
For . . . its much needed accessibility, attention to nuance, and analytic precision, The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran is a valuable contribution to a complex and conflicted field of inquiry.
— Abbas Barzegar
Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies
[A] unique and effective first book. . . . Osanloo's voice is fresh and provides a deeper insight into the question of women's rights.
— Paola Rivetti
Feminist Review
Osanloo's book is a timely discussion that not only critiques the limitations of the Islamic Republic's stance on women's rights, but also queries the Western gaze and political agenda often viewing the non-Christian as the alien Other. It provides a fresh perspective on the ways in which contemporary urban women in Iran construct and articulate a discourse of 'rights' relevant to their lives.
— Mehri Honarbin-Holliday
Choice - G. Tezcur
The book is a valuable contribution to the studies of state-society interaction in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences - Abbas Barzegar
For . . . its much needed accessibility, attention to nuance, and analytic precision, The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran is a valuable contribution to a complex and conflicted field of inquiry.
Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies - Paola Rivetti
[A] unique and effective first book. . . . Osanloo's voice is fresh and provides a deeper insight into the question of women's rights.
Feminist Review - Mehri Honarbin-Holliday
Osanloo's book is a timely discussion that not only critiques the limitations of the Islamic Republic's stance on women's rights, but also queries the Western gaze and political agenda often viewing the non-Christian as the alien Other. It provides a fresh perspective on the ways in which contemporary urban women in Iran construct and articulate a discourse of 'rights' relevant to their lives.
Nordic Journal of Human Rights - Sevda Clark
The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran is essential reading for human rights scholars, advocates (and sceptics alike), and practitioners who are grappling to find pathways beyond the stale and polarised discourses concerning human rights in Iran.
From the Publisher
"The book is a valuable contribution to the studies of state-society interaction in the Islamic Republic of Iran."—G. Tezcur, Choice

"The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran is most appropriate for academic law libraries. It could, perhaps, prove a useful addition to a law firm library as well, particularly for a firm that serves a substantial clientele from an Iranian or Islamic background. The text is written at quite a high level, which prevents me from recommending it for all but the most scholarly types who also have a specific interest in the subject matter."—Kama Siegel, Law Library Journal

"For . . . its much needed accessibility, attention to nuance, and analytic precision, The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran is a valuable contribution to a complex and conflicted field of inquiry."—Abbas Barzegar, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

"[A] unique and effective first book. . . . Osanloo's voice is fresh and provides a deeper insight into the question of women's rights."—Paola Rivetti, Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies

"Osanloo's book is a timely discussion that not only critiques the limitations of the Islamic Republic's stance on women's rights, but also queries the Western gaze and political agenda often viewing the non-Christian as the alien Other. It provides a fresh perspective on the ways in which contemporary urban women in Iran construct and articulate a discourse of 'rights' relevant to their lives."—Mehri Honarbin-Holliday, Feminist Review

"The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran is essential reading for human rights scholars, advocates (and sceptics alike), and practitioners who are grappling to find pathways beyond the stale and polarised discourses concerning human rights in Iran."—Sevda Clark, Nordic Journal of Human Rights

Choice
The book is a valuable contribution to the studies of state-society interaction in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
— G. Tezcur
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691135472
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/9/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Arzoo Osanloo is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and in Law, Societies, and Justice Program at the University of Washington. Previously, she worked as a human rights attorney, practicing asylum and immigration law.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Acknowledgments xvii
INTRODUCTION: Human Rights and Cultural Practice 1
CHAPTER ONE: A Genealogy of "Women's Rights" in Iran 20
CHAPTER TWO: Producing States: Women's Participation and the Dialogics of Rights 42
CHAPTER THREE: Qur'anic Meetings: "Doing the Cultural Work" 75
CHAPTER FOUR: Courting Rights: Rights Talk in Islamico-Civil Family Court 108
CHAPTER FIVE: Practice and Effect: Writing/Righting the Law 138
CHAPTER SIX: Human Rights: The Politics and Prose of Discursive Sites 166
CONCLUSION: "Women's Rights" as Exhibition at the Brink of War 200
APPENDIX: The Iranian Marriage Contract 209
Notes 211
Glossary 227
Bibliography 231
Index 251

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