Iranian Exiles and Sexual Politics: Issues of Gender Relations and Identity


Shahidian, Hammed. 1996. “Iranian Exiles and Sexual Politics: Issues of Gender Relations and Identity.” Journal of Refugee Studies 9 (1): 43-72.

Author: Hammed Shahidian


This paper argues that sexual politics among Iranian exiles is a continuation of silenced conflicts between the identities of political activists and social and organizational constraints in Iran. During the initial years of exile, Iran's political conditions remained the preoccupation of the expatriate activists. Later on, after the defeat of the left and its loss of ideological and organizational legitimacy, denied or postponed identities have found a chance to resurface. Sexual politics develops through relationships between individuals and their social environment. First of all, it entails rearrangements of gender power relations. Second, the redistribution of power evokes challenges from expatriates. Third, the host society provides the exiles both with a favourable environment to resolve these conflicts and with new limitations and challenges. Finally, ideological and political considerations also play an important role in this process. These tensions stem from an attempt on the part of leftist exiles, to re-evaluate their past practice of silencing the conflict between their emerging identity and organizational demands as well as an attempt, first and foremost on the part of female leftist exile, to forge new gender identity and gender relations.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Gender, Gendered Power Relations Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iran

Year: 1996

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