Women Miners’ Exclusion and Muslim Masculinities in Tajikistan: A Feminist Political Ecology of Honor and Shame

Citation:

Behzadi, Negar Elodie. 2019. "Women Miners’ Exclusion and Muslim Masculinities in Tajikistan: A Feminist Political Ecology of Honor and Shame." Geoforum 100: 144-52.

Author: Negar Elodie Behzadi

Abstract:

This article explores the gendered process that leads to women informal miners’ restricted access to natural resources, their exclusion and their stigmatization in one village in the Muslim post-Soviet space. Drawing on eight months of ethnographic work in the village of Kante in Northern Tajikistan, this article seeks to understand how and why this process is mediated through notions of honor and shame traditionally seen as anchored in Muslim religion. A focus on changing masculinities and their relationship with women miners’ exclusion in this extractive landscape where informal coal mining developed alongside male migration and the setting up of a Sino-Tajik coal mine after the fall of the Soviet Union, allows us to develop a feminist political ecology of honor and shame. Here, I reveal how these cultural notions are mobilized in the wake of embodied and emotional work and resource struggles and the gendered impacts of broader politico-ecological changes. I particularly link women miners’ exclusion and its mediation through notions of honor and shame to men’s loss of sense of self since the fall of the Soviet Union and the reconfiguration of masculinities with new work and resource struggles. By doing so, this article challenges the idea of Muslim men as fixed into codes of honor and patriarchy anchored in religion. Instead, it develops a re-theorization of Muslim masculinities which highlights instances where men oppress women at the same time as it challenges culturalist readings of gender and Muslimness that overemphasize culture/religion to the detriment of the economic/ecological.

Keywords: muslim masculinities, honor-and-shame, feminist political ecology, emotions, mining, resource extraction, women miners, post-Soviet Central Asia

Topics: Environment, Extractive Industries, Feminisms, Feminist Political Ecology, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Religion Regions: Asia, Central Asia Countries: Tajikistan

Year: 2019

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