Women's Football and Futsal in Iran - their challenges and struggles

About the seminar:

National women’s futsal team of Iran won a championship held by the Asian Futsal Confederation in 2015. To put their achievement in the context of gender studies, this presentation tries to examine the significance of gender norms of Iranian female athletes and its changes, from the implementation of modern sports in the 1930s through their active participation in the international matches at present. The modernization scheme of Pahlavi rule opened the a way for Iranian girls to have physical exercise in schools, at the same time consolidating conjugating the patriarchal value to nationalist ideology. Although women’s active social participation was deemed precarious desperate after the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the increase in women’s engagement in a variety of fields became evident in the 1990s, and women’s sport is one of these that examples. Current regime is obliged to, on one hand enforce gender segregation, and on the other recognise social contribution of women. The pursuit of the former takes shape of imposing various restrictions on women, and the pursuit of the latter, though it looks reluctant, cannot be neglected totally. As gender difference is a prerequisite in most of the major sport activities, Iranian state apparatus has found a way to promote women’s sport domestically while ensuring to uphold the “Islamic standards”. “Headscarf Issue” in the international arena brought about a tragic defeat in an international football match, however, that eventually caused their shift to Futsal, and the shift led them to the victory in championship games.

About the speaker:

YAMAGISHI Tomoko is a Professor at School of Political Science and Economics in Meiji University, Tokyo, to deliver lectures of “Cultural Theories” and “Area Study of West Asia”. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from University of Tokyo, Komaba, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. And at present she is an academic visitor affiliated to St. Anthony’s College, University of Oxford. She was the first female guest Japanese student of Tehran University after its reopening in 1990-1992. She has been working on identity politics and image construction in the Middle East, and has written a variety of articles including Shi’ite mourning ceremony, modern history, and contemporary issues. She has made a number of social contributions, and is a board member of Japan Association of Middle East Studies. The latest book she published in Japan is Gendai Iran-no shakai to seiji, Tsunagaru hitobito to kokka no chohsen [Contemporary society and politics of Iran: challenges of the nation and the connected people], Akashi Publisher, 2018.