International Workshop “White Hijab movement in Iran and its gendered implications: A new relationship between Social Media and Social Movement”

We cordially invite you to the international workshop “White Hijab movement in Iran and its gendered implications: A new relationship between Social Media and Social Movement” on March 2nd, 2018, in the main conference room (on the third floor), Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The university of Tokyo. Dr. Koo is an anthropologist with a long term experience in conducting researches on youth cultures in contemporary Iran, currently affiliated to West Asia Center in Seoul National University. She is one of the very few researchers working on the issue of gender in the Middle East in Korea. This workshop offers a rare opportunity to learn about the recent engagement of Iranian women with social movement, and to witness a dialogue among scholars who share a commitment for gender as an academic theory as well as a collective social project.
We will be more than honored to receive you and share this experience with you.

Dates and time: March, 2nd. 2018 (Fri) 5 pm ~ 7:00 pm

Venue: Main Conference Room (3rd floor), Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo

Lecturer: Gi Yeon, Koo (Senior Research Fellow, West Asia Center, Seoul National University) 

Title: “Defying the State by Wearing White Hijab: Iranian Women's Social Movement through Social Media”

Discussant: MOTOYAMA, Hisako (Ochanomizu Women’s University)

Language: English, No Japanese translation available

We will welcome you regardless of your academic affiliation or the previous experiences of joining any of our project. We also welcome participants with children. Please contact us if you are thinking about bringing children with you so that we can do our best to support you (We do not provide official Baby Sitting Services this time). For the further information on our effort to encourage proceeding academic careers with children, please visit our website (Japanese Only).

We also encourage you to notify your willingness to attend the symposium in advance so that we can prepare for you better. (please replace @with @)

The objective of this research is to explore the development of digital social and social movements at the local level through Iranian women’s engagement with social media. In this presentation, I delve into the cultural and social background of a Facebook page named “My Stealthy Freedom” and the practices of “cyber feminism” in Iran through an anthropological perspective. This online movement finds its value in that it has become a new platform for the women to raise their voices in public online sphere about their human right and freedom. An online campaign called “White Wednesday” on the Facebook page, “My Stealthy Freedom” is recently gaining momentum as a new social movement in Iran. Iranian women have been posting pictures and videos of themselves wearing white headscarves or pieces of white clothing as symbols of protest every Wednesday.
The degree of suppression of Iranian youths during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime was high and extreme. It used to be said that such policies targeted towards Iranian youths were ruthless enough to sweep away all youths on the streets of Iran. There were random inspections by the Tehran police on the streets or in large shopping malls to arrest Iranian women who did not abide by the strict Iranian dress codes. Women who failed to observe the Islamic dress code were taken to detention centers by the female morality police who would patrol the crowded shopping malls on weekends. With such social movements self-initiated by citizens and gaining worldwide recognition, it must be noted that pictures of young Iranian women discarding their white hijab became a symbol of anti-government protests. Moreover, the fact that Iranian people's freedom-seeking and democratic aspirations is erupting from the very bottom and pouring out onto the streets deserves much attention. This presentation will take an anthropological approach to analyze the online and offline discourses surrounding Iran’s hijab rules and examine how Iran’s compulsory hijab wearing issue is becoming the new symbol of resistance and defiance in Iran and triggering political controversies. In addition, the presentation will focus on how Iranian women standing against mandatory hijab is associated with social movements in Iran.