The female body as the bearer of national identity in Iran: a critical discourse analysis of the representation of women's bodies in official online outlets
Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel
The female body has been in the foreground of nation-building in Iran especially since the 1930s projects of modernization, when unveiling women and adaptation to Western clothing became a crucial factor of bolstering modern Iranian national identity as opposed to a religion-based national identity. After the 1979 Revolution, the Islamic dress code became compulsory and female imagery depicting modesty and piety became a source of national identity. Although the representation of women's bodies in nationalist discourses has been subject of different studies, women's representation in official online outlets is still understudied. This article discusses how women's bodily appearance and representation in official online outlets feed into the nationalist discourses in Iran. Three key cases between 2014 and 2017 are addressed: (i) actress Leila Hatami kissing a man at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival; (ii) the public debate on women's entrance to sports stadiums in 2014–2015; (iii) the public revelation of actress Taraneh Alidoosti's tattooed forearm in 2016. Data were collected from multiple Iranian official online platforms and a critical discourse analysis was undertaken to analyse different forms of discursive articulation regarding women's bodies and national identity. Drawing on feminist literature inspired by the Foucauldian concept of biopolitics, the article discusses the ways in which women's bodies are discursively constructed to illustrate a uniform Islamic nationalistic discourse.