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Princeton University Press
The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran

The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran

by Arzoo Osanloo


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691135472
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 03/29/2009
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 718,412
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About 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.

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

What People are Saying About This

Timothy Mitchell

Struggles for women's rights in the Muslim world are too often seen as a simple conflict between Islam and modernity. Osanloo's illuminating study of postrevolutionary Iran shows how women have articulated a much richer approach to advancing their political rights. They have developed a repertoire of claims that draws simultaneously on the state's republican foundations, the ideology of Islamic government, and the discourse of international human rights. The book is a highly original and important contribution to our understanding of the politics of contemporary Iran and to global debates about the rights of women.
Timothy Mitchell, Columbia University

Lila Abu-Lughod

Osanloo's original argument is that despite official rejection by the Islamic Republic of a discourse of rights as Western, liberal notions of rights are almost hegemonic in Iran today. Through wonderful fieldwork in Tehran's family court, lawyers' offices, and even the Islamic Human Rights Commission, she reveals how this has come about. She analyzes not only the force of the international politics of rights for a country that tied women's status to national identity, but also the surprising ways that Iran's unique system of civic-religious law has produced women with a keen sense of themselves as rights-bearing subjects. This is legal anthropology at its best and an extraordinary contribution to Middle East gender studies.
Lila Abu-Lughod, author of "Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt"


Osanloo examines a topic of great significance: the way the Iranian legal system has developed since the revolution to incorporate both the former civil codes and the newer ideas of human rights in ways that benefit women. This will be a widely read and valuable book.
Sally E. Merry, New York University

Homa Hoodfar

This engaging book is original and groundbreaking in providing analysis and understanding for one of the most talked about yet neglected areas of research in Iran, the Middle East, and the North African region. It will open new directions for further research with important practical implications for women and human rights, Islamic or otherwise.
Homa Hoodfar, Concordia University

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