Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

December Green (Committee Chair), Laura Luehrmann (Committee Member), Kelli Zaytoun (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


The literature on feminism and Islam shows that there is a distinct relationship and conflict between identity groups in Iran. An alliance between Muslim and secular feminists has been observed in the past in Iran; however, a breakdown of the alliance has occurred in recent years. It is my assumption that in order for feminists in Iran to unite, several principles of Iris Young's communicative democracy and coalition building practices have to be applied. Communicative democracy stresses that individuals' ideas often change when interaction with other people and their experiences occurs. Further, communicative democracy emphasizes the importance of recognizing the differences in culture and social perspectives as a resource for achieving an understanding in certain democratic discussions and processes. This study analyzes the ways women's identities are constructed in Iran and how interactions between the different feminist groups change or shape politics in that country. In other words, why have Muslim and secular feminist groups in Iran experienced a problematic relationship despite similarities in their agendas and how can feminists overcome such problems?

This case study of feminism focuses on four different periods in Iran's history. The first two case studies will analyze the mechanisms of the Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911) and the Islamic Revolution (1979). In the period from 1990-2001 there was an alliance between secular and Muslim feminists in Iran, and together they accomplished several changes to better women's lives. However, a break in the alliance occurred following an event in 2000 when several secular feminists were arrested in Iran. Further, the study will make recommendations for building successful relationships among feminists by using Young's framework of communicative democracy.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Political Science

Year Degree Awarded