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Women and Literacies in Iran: A historical exploration of the late Qajar Era


Women and Literacies in Iran: A historical exploration of the late Qajar Era

Dadaei-Noushabadi, Maryam (2016) Women and Literacies in Iran: A historical exploration of the late Qajar Era. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Over the course of the Qajar period (1796-1925), Iran underwent multiple processes of change in the attempt to modernize the country. The two social institutions of education and gender bore unprecedented scrutiny in that era. The shift from traditional maktab literacies, which mainly centered on Islamic education, to new European-style schools marked the fundamental change in the realm of education in Iran. The centrality of education in the modernization processes was due to the perception of a causal relationship between literacy levels and, progress and democracy. For women, this educational shift involved a double-twist process. First, the epistemological questions on knowledge had to be tackled as a distinction was made between so-called Islamic and scientific or spiritual and material knowledge. On the other hand, the question of Iranian modern woman had to be faced.
In this historical study, relying on sociocultural theories of literacy I locate the above educational transition in its social context. From there with the interaction model of literacy in mind, I strive to show that the literacy shift in Qajar era was neither a direct result of modernization attempts nor was it a cause for the country's development. Instead, I propose that the dynamics involved in literacy changes present a matrix pattern rather than a linear relationship.
To demonstrate the inner working of this conceptual framework in the historical analysis of literacy in Iran, I present historical data from the Persian travelogues of the nineteenth century, women’s press of late Qajar Era, and the visual data of two digital historical archives. I show that maktab literacies in the nineteenth-century Iran were not merely recipients of change under the influence of modernization processes, but maktab literacies had a formative role in the formation of the modernization dilemma as well. This historical data confirms how the interaction model of literacy explains a coevolving relationship among various spheres in the society. Some elements of the social matrix in this study are the emergent technologies such as print, economic trade, and literacy practices such as travelogue reading/writing, and the collective reading of materials in social gatherings. I also presented that the main
components of traditional maktab literacies and European-style education in Iran were not mutually exclusive.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Dadaei-Noushabadi, Maryam
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Educational Studies
Date:31 August 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Cleghorn, Ailie
ID Code:981582
Deposited On:06 Feb 2017 16:09
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:53
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