Violence in Iran: Women, Marriage and Islam

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Date: Spring 2018
From: Anthropology of the Middle East(Vol. 13, Issue 1)
Publisher: Berghahn Books, Inc.
Document Type: Book review
Length: 1,516 words
Lexile Measure: 1530L

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Zahra Tizro, Domestic Violence in Iran: Women, Marriage and Islam (New York: Routledge, 2012)

Zahra Tizro comes from a background of social psychology, but her qualitative research emphasising women's perceptions, experiences and voices, as well as her conclusion that modernisation and secularisation cannot remove domestic violence because it is 'deep-seated in society', will engage cultural anthropologists. 'Orthodox jurisprudence' alone does not provide an atmosphere conducive to violence against women; 'social, legal and public norms' also contribute. Domestic Violence in Iran joins two anthropological works about cultural continuity in Iran despite changing circumstances. Agnes Loeffler's (2012) Allopathy Goes Native: Traditional Versus Modern Medicine in Iran demonstrates continuity of indigenous health and healing culture in Shiraz, despite professors and texts teaching allopathic (modern, Western) medicine and health. My own Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village (Hegland 2014) focuses on the continuity of indigenous political culture in how villagers understood, analysed, made decisions about and acted regarding the Iranian Revolution even though it was a national and apparently Shia Islam-prompted phenomenon rather than about local-level politics. These books provide valuable advice to anthropologists to be sensitive to signs of cultural continuity even in the midst of change and transformation and to practitioners to explore ways of changing negative aspects of culture, as well as working through political, legal, educational and economic means. (1)

Tizro lays out her work in seven chapters. Chapter 1, 'Theories Regarding the Roots of Violence against Women', analyses various frameworks and their advantages and shortcomings in terms of explaining violence against women as well as discussing some studies of domestic violence in Iran and its prevalence. The author favours a Foucauldian framework focusing on 'knowledge, power and subjectivity' (p. 14), as well as dialogue between participants and researcher and a listening, receptive stance of the latter. Through this erudite treatment of theories, she conveys her approach to her research, one valued by cultural anthropologists.

Chapter 2, 'Power, Knowledge and Subjectivity in Relation to Domestic Violence against Women in Iran', derives from an amazingly comprehensive, insightful study of sources of orthodox jurisprudence, its characteristics and tensions related to it internally and with law, Sharia, secularist forces and popular culture. The section on 'Marriage, the Marital Relationship and Affiliated Discourses' explores the nature of the marriage contract,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A557706611