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Building a pious self in secular settings: pious women in modern Turkey

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This dissertation aims to explore the diverse ways in which piety is conceptualized and cultivated by highly-educated Muslim women in Turkey. These women hold active positions within the secular-public sphere while trying to keep their aim of becoming pious in

This dissertation aims to explore the diverse ways in which piety is conceptualized and cultivated by highly-educated Muslim women in Turkey. These women hold active positions within the secular-public sphere while trying to keep their aim of becoming pious in their own way, in relation to their subjective understanding of piety. After a detailed analysis of the formation of the secular modern public sphere in Turkey, in relation to the questions of modernity, nation-building, secularism, Islamism, and the gender relations, it gives an account of the individual routes taken by the highly educated professional women to particular aspirations of piety. The individual stories are designed to show the arbitrariness of many modern binary oppositions such as modern vs. traditional, secular vs. religious, liberated vs. oppressed, individual vs. communal, and etc. These individual routes are also analyzed within a collective framework through an analysis of the activities of two women's NGO's addressing at their attempt of building a collective attitude toward the secular-liberal conception of gender and sexuality. Finally the dissertation argues that Turkey has the capacity to deconstruct the aforementioned binary categories with its macro-level sociopolitical experience, and the micro-level everyday life experiences of ordinary people. It also reveals that piety cannot be measured with outward expressions, or thought as a sociopolitical categorization. Because just like secularism, piety has also the capacity to penetrate into the everyday lives of people from diverse sociopolitical backgrounds, which opens up possibilities of rethinking the religious-secular divide, and all the other binaries that come with it.

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2012

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Female Microaggressions Scale (FeMS): A Comprehensive Sexism Scale

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Overt forms of sexism have become less frequent (Swim Hyers, Cohen & Ferguson, 2001; Sue & Capodilupo, 2008). Nonetheless, scholars contend that sexism is still pervasive but often manifests as female microaggressions, which have been defined as often subtle, covert

Overt forms of sexism have become less frequent (Swim Hyers, Cohen & Ferguson, 2001; Sue & Capodilupo, 2008). Nonetheless, scholars contend that sexism is still pervasive but often manifests as female microaggressions, which have been defined as often subtle, covert forms of gender discrimination (Capodilupo et al., 2010). Extant sexism scales fail to capture female microaggresions, limiting understanding of the correlates and consequences of women’s experiences of gender discrimination. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to develop the Female Microaggressions Scale (FeMS) based on an existing theoretical taxonomy and content analysis of social media data, which identifies diverse forms of sexism. Two separate studies were conducted for exploratory factor analysis (N = 582) and confirmatory factor analysis (N = 325). Exploratory factor analyses supported an eight-factor, correlated structure and confirmatory factor analyses supported a bifactor model, with eight specific factors and one general FeMS factor. Overall, reliability and validity of the FeMS (general FeMS and subscales) were mostly supported in the two present samples of diverse women. The FeMS’ subscales and body surveillance were significantly positively correlated. Results regarding correlations between the FeMS subscales and anxiety, depression, and life satisfaction were mixed. The FeMS (general FeMS) was significantly positively correlated with anxiety, body surveillance, and another measure of sexism but not depression or life satisfaction. Furthermore, the FeMS (general FeMS) explained variance in anxiety and body surveillance (but not depression, self-esteem, or life satisfaction) above and beyond that explained by an existing sexism measure and explained variance in anxiety and depression (but not self-esteem) above and beyond that explained by neuroticism. Implications for future research are discussed.

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2018

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Afghani women's resistance: their struggle for autonomy under the Soviet Occupation and Taliban rule

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The American-led 'war on terror' affected how media outlets and some contemporary literature addressed and stereotyped Islam. One of the most common stereotypes regarded the status of women in society. The constant images of oppressed Afghani women generated a wave

The American-led 'war on terror' affected how media outlets and some contemporary literature addressed and stereotyped Islam. One of the most common stereotypes regarded the status of women in society. The constant images of oppressed Afghani women generated a wave of negativity toward Islam. Afghani women were portrayed as passive characters during the Taliban rule awaiting liberation from the west. Defending their rights became one of the moral justifications for waging the 'war on terror' after the tragedy of 9/11. Gender politics in Afghanistan is closely tied to the regime in power. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the social and cultural transformation of society that followed also directly affected women and their identity as Muslims. Both the Soviet and the Taliban regimes envisioned a drastic transformation of women's participation in the public sphere. Each regime's gender politics oppressed Afghani women and sought to take away their agency. Some women welcomed the freedom under the Soviets, but others found the freedoms to be oppressive. The Taliban aimed to preserve men's authority over women. However, Afghani women never gave up the hope of freedom and equality. My main argument is to challenge the contemporary belief that Afghani women were passive characters in their history. This study introduces a fresh perspective on to women's role as change makers in the society. I argue that Afghani women maintained their autonomy and fought for their rights, before the rest of the world rushed to liberate them. They engaged in different forms of resistance from directly attacking the oppressors to keeping their resistance hidden. This thesis challenges the notion of Afghani women as victims in need of saving. On the contrary, they were the agents of change in their communities. On the basis of ethnographic interviews and three memoirs written by women who lived in Afghanistan during Soviet and Taliban rule. Their resistance against the oppressors is an affirmation of their courage and bravery.

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2017