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Rethinking Global Sisterhood

Western Feminism and Iran

2007
Author:

Nima Naghibi

Rethinking Global Sisterhood

The first analysis of how Western and Iranian feminism both converge and conflict

Nima Naghibi makes powerful connections among feminism, imperialism, and the discourses of global sisterhood. Naghibi investigates topics including the state-sponsored Women’s Organization of Iran and the involvement of feminists such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem in the Iranian feminism movement. She also examines the veiled woman in the films of Tahmineh Milani, Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Kim Longinotto, and Mahnaz Afzali.

Rethinking Global Sisterhood is an original and long-overdue critical examination of the representation of Iranian women in the modern era. The difficult and pressing questions Naghibi raises point to new ways of reading the realities of gender relations in Iran.

Nasrin Rahimieh, author of Missing Persians: Discovering Voices in Iranian Cultural History

Western women’s involvement in Persia dates from the mid-nineteenth century, when female adventurers and missionaries first encountered their veiled Muslim “sisters.” Twentieth-century Western and state-sponsored Iranian feminists continued to use the image of the veiled woman as the embodiment of backwardness. Yet, following the 1979 revolution, indigenous Iranian feminists became more vocal in their resistance to this characterization.

In Rethinking Global Sisterhood, Nima Naghibi makes powerful connections among feminism, imperialism, and the discourses of global sisterhood. Naghibi investigates topics including the state-sponsored Women’s Organization of Iran and the involvement of feminists such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem in the Iranian feminism movement before and during the 1979 revolution. With a potent analysis of cinema, she examines the veiled woman in the films of Tahmineh Milani, Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Kim Longinotto, and Mahnaz Afzali.

At a time when Western relations with the Muslim world are in crisis, Rethinking Global Sisterhood provides much-needed insights and explores the limitations and possibilities of cross-cultural feminist social and political interventions.

Rethinking Global Sisterhood

Nima Naghibi is assistant professor of English at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Rethinking Global Sisterhood

Rethinking Global Sisterhood is an original and long-overdue critical examination of the representation of Iranian women in the modern era. The difficult and pressing questions Naghibi raises point to new ways of reading the realities of gender relations in Iran.

Nasrin Rahimieh, author of Missing Persians: Discovering Voices in Iranian Cultural History

Rethinking Global Sisterhood is a book that not only tears apart stereotypes and assumptions about the significance of Muslim women’s dress, but levels harsh critique against those feminists who invoke ‘global sisterhood’ as their cause while perpetuating colonial attitudes of superiority toward their veiled ‘sisters.’

In These Times

Naghibi’s effort is commendable and her historical analysis presents a notable exception to the emotional vitriol sometimes displayed against Western feminism’s hegemonic ‘sisterhood.’

Fellowship

Unique in its effective treatment of cross-cultural feminist (mis)understandings. Naghibi offers information and analysis in ways that will engage general readers as well as specialists on Iran. Recommended.

Choice

This is an intelligent, original, and refreshing study.

Middle East Journal

Rethinking Global Sisterhood is a highly theoretical yet accessible work that manages to represent the complex gender and class relations in Iran, while engaging the Iranian diaspora. Naghibi’s extensive footnotes and references alone provide a valuable source for the expert and the novice alike.

Insight Turkey