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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A race against time: Governing femininity and reproducing the future in revolutionary Iraq, 1945–63
by Pursley, Sara, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2012, 436; 3508719
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation rethinks the Iraqi revolution of 1958 and the post-World War II era leading up to it through the lens of gender and family reform, in particular by examining the relation between such reforms and various conceptions of temporality, both secular and Islamic. Engaging critically with Lee Edelman's notion of "reproductive futurism" as a hegemonic political imaginary of modernity, I argue that projects to cultivate modern feminine domesticities in Iraq during this era were linked to larger depoliticizing and disciplinary mechanisms that sought to stabilize the political present in the name of an ever-receding economic future. Sexual difference and the fantasy of the child as the embodiment of the nation's future development were keys to this process. Gender and family reform efforts in this period were markedly different from earlier nationalist projects to cultivate feminine domesticity in the Middle East, shifts that were related to the expansion of public schooling to the lower classes; new understandings of pedagogy, psychology, and child development and new global knowledge networks through which such understandings traveled; ruptures in conceptions of historical time and generational time; the rise of the United States as a superpower; and the dawn of the Cold War and the "age of development" after 1945. Yet the family-reform efforts I examine were not instances of a universal and linear modernization process; they were shaped by, and often direct responses to, local forces of upheaval, including rural rebellions connected to the agrarian crisis and the widespread political mobilization and radicalization of youth in the postwar era. They also ran up against local modes of life and networks of solidarity, Islamic and otherwise, that were not organized according to the child-centered, future-directed, and present-freezing logic of family reform in the age of development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Baron, Beth
Commitee: Abrahamian, Ervand, Bashkin, Orit, Haj, Samira, Herzog, Dagmar, Scott, Joan
School: City University of New York
Department: History
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern history, Womens studies, Islamic Studies, Gender studies
Keywords: 1963, Development, Family, Femininity, Gender, Iraq, Revolution, Temporality
Publication Number: 3508719
ISBN: 978-1-267-34523-3
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