Fashion, Photography and Female Agency in Iran


Project Summary:

For more than a century in Iran, the female body has been the site for authorities to assert and exercise their political and ideological control over half of the population. This project explores how women in the Islamic Republic of Iran re-imagine and enforce their agency in the virtual space and redefine their identity by creating distinctively individualized styles in garments in the 21st century. While the representation of women and outfits used in photographs in the virtual space do not always take up the dress code boundaries formulated by the Islamic government, they are deliberately depicted by citizen journalists to contest the ‘image’ of the Muslim woman that was favored and propagated by theologians.

Project Description:

This project explores the significance of the concept of hijab and its semantic versatility in an Iranian context. Female street fashion, the conforming approaches taken up by the Islamic regime and mainstream mass media, and its relation to the representation of female images disseminated in the virtual space by citizen journalists are meticulously studied. The argument depicts that in addition to defying the governmental restraints through reinventing street fashion, the advent of the digital era and citizen journalism have provided Iranian women with an unprecedented opportunity to further proclaim their agency, individuality and visibility by fashion statements exposed in photographs in blogs, websites, facebook pages, and twitter postings operated by the public Internet users who are not affiliated with mainstream journalism. The study of street fashion and the women’s re-imagination of fashion in the cyber space explicitly demonstrate the confluences of the two spheres of street reality and virtual reality and their joint partnership in the process of democratization of gender identity in Iran. In response to the suppressive and authoritative measures conducted by the regime in the streets as well as the digital space, citizen journalists seek to deconstruct gender identity and re-frame the women’s image as showed in the official mass media.

Project Type:
Self-Funded

Project Role:
Co-Researcher

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