From Guerrilla Girls to Zainabs: Reassessing the Figure of the “Militant Woman” in the Iranian Revolution

Citation:

Gordan, Arielle. 2021. "From Guerilla Girls to Zainabs: Reassessing the Figure of the "Militant Woman" in the Iranian Revolution." Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 17 (1): 64-95.

Author: Arielle Gordon

Abstract:

Scholars have long accounted for representations of women in the Iranian Revolution by categorically classifying them as “devout mothers” or “heroic sisters,” embodied respectively in the Shiʾi archetypes of Fatima and Zainab. However, a closer look at images of militant women finds them residing within the traditions of their time, as part and parcel of an era of liberation movements in which the idiom of the female fighter featured prominently. This article takes a transnational look at tropes of women’s militancy and traces how they filtered into Iranian revolutionary culture. Finally, it contends that only with the consolidation of Khomeini’s power and the start of the Iran-Iraq War is this figure renamed Zainab and sustained as a central icon of the Islamic Republic.

Keywords: visual culture, revolution, transnationalism, representation, 'gender'

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Religion Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iran, Iraq

Year: 2021

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