University of Sussex
Jalaeipour, Zahra.pdf (2.65 MB)

Hijab in transition: dress code changes amongst Iranian diaspora in London

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posted on 2023-06-09, 11:29 authored by Zahra Jalaeipour
This thesis explores the factors that influence Iranian women’s choice of hijab and its transitions. Compulsory hijab in Iran and even voluntary practice of hijab exert a great deal of influence on the lives of the Iranian women worldwide. My thesis investigates how cultural, social and political factors interweave with theological and jurisprudential debates leading to diverse forms of practicing hijab and its transitions in one’s life. For the first time in the anthropology literature, my thesis portrays and explains the current status of, and developments in, hijab amongst Iranian women who have been raised in Iran and now live in London. My research is based on the data and cultural knowledge I gathered through conducting 40 in-depth interviews with Iranian women in London, and interviewing four prominent male Muslim intellectuals, scholars and clerics who have worked on and talked about hijab in Iran (Kadivar, Eshkevari, Fanaei, and Torkashvand). In addition to narrating the history and transformations of hijab policies and hijab jurisprudence in Iran from the constitutional revolution to the present, in this research, I have identified five schemas of dress code amongst Iranians in London (full traditional hijab, full progressive hijab, partial-hijab, conservative scarf-less and radical hijab-less) which challenge the current categorizations and generalisations regarding the hijab. By describing the features of each of the schemas this thesis provides a useful descriptive and explanatory tool that will enable a better understanding of hijab dynamics among Iranian women in London. I have demonstrated that hijab is a very fluid term. Hijab varies between individuals in practice, style, rationale, and purpose, and it is neither simply oppressive nor empowering.


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  • masters

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  • eng


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