Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Ann K. Ferrell (Director), Kate Parker Horigan, and Margaret Ann Mills

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


In this thesis, I seek to understand different resistance strategies that Iranian women use in their everyday lives, especially in countering the patriarchal rules of dress in Iran and responding to issues of dress and identity in the United States. My research included interviews, a form of reciprocal ethnography, and participant observation in Tehran, Iran; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; and New York City. In some places, I also mix an autobiographic method with ethnography. The historical periods before and after the 1979 Islamic Revelation in Iran and its effects on Iranian women’s ways of dress are briefly examined in this study to give contextual information to the readers.

I address the main clothes of Iranian women in the form of hijab, referring to shawls and manteaux, to examine the meanings and messages that Iranian women can create and transform with these types of hijabs. Inspired primarily by “Strategies of Coding in Women’s Cultures” by Joan Radner and Susan Lanser, I discover the coded resistance strategies of “indirection,” “juxtaposition,” and “appropriation” in the culture of Iranian women’s dress. Drawing on Amy Shuman’s Other People’s Stories: Entitlement Claims and the Critique of Empathy, I show non-coded resistance strategies in personal experience narratives of Iranian women in which they challenge the imposed rules of dress facing Iranian hijab police. In the last section of this thesis, using a narrative told by an Iranian woman, I demonstrate how stigmatization makes counter narratives untellable in order to avoid representing different modes of culture in the diaspora.


Fashion Design | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Available for download on Wednesday, May 15, 2120