Veiled Voices: Female Subjectivity and Gender Relations in Afghan and Iranian Cinemas

  • Author / Creator
    Dehnavi, Elahe
  • Films as cultural products are remarkable sources for examining different dimensions of the complex institution of gender in the society in which they are produced. Focusing on a selection of cinematic narratives from post-Revolution Iran and Post-Taliban Afghanistan, this project examines the films’ representations of women in private and public relations as gendered subjects. Following feminist scholars, who highlight the embodiment of gendered subjectivity in cultural and historical contexts, this thesis explores different aspects of gendered experience in cinematic texts and examines how gender and sexuality are subjected to power. It considers both form and content and aims to provide textual and contextual analysis, but its main purpose is to offer a sociological reading of the selected films. Looking at images of girlhood, motherhood, women’s position in marriage and divorce, female love and desire, and women’s political engagement, it aims to understand how, in what ways, and to what extent independent filmmakers challenge social strains, traditional authority, and political forces that form the dominant discourse of gender and gender relations in Iranian and Afghan cultures. Reading the cinematic narratives in the socio-political context of their production, I contend that these independent films should be seen as part of the current discussions around gender politics and activist endeavours against conservative gender norms. In Afghanistan and Iran, where women’s rights movements are considered anti-Islamic and therefore demonized and repressed by the state or powerful religious groups, filmmakers have become civil activists who use social cinema as a tool to promote social change. They have developed a veiled cinematic language that allows them to address women’s status in society, shed light on the cultural and legal roots of gender discrimination, and challenge the patriarchal discourse of gender. This thesis outlines the features of this veiled language; it also examines émigré films that complement this cultural dialogue while enjoying the freedom from governmental censorship or domestic pressures from religious groups.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Rahimieh, Nasrin (Comparative Literature)
    • Naghibi, Nima (English)
    • Mersal, Iman (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
    • Braz, Albert (English and Film Studies)