Aesthetics of invisibility in Iranian women's identity and their domestic space during the 1980s

Golabi M.

GENDER PLACE AND CULTURE, 2022 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/0966369x.2022.2056146
  • Title of Journal : GENDER PLACE AND CULTURE
  • Keywords: Domestic space, Iran, socio-cultural transformations, woman identity


This paper investigates the relationship between the gendered identities of Iranian women and their domestic space in the first post-revolutionary decade (1980s) at a time when the influence of Islamic tenets on people's lives was considerably higher than in the previous and subsequent decades. Contributing to feminist geography and providing an understanding of a regional reality, the aim of this article is to elaborate on how the redefined identities and bodies of Iranian women, which were considered central to the representation of the Islamic national identity in Iran during the 1980s, influenced the design and usage patterns of houses at that time. The paper adopts Pierre Bourdieu's conceptual framework related to 'social space' and 'physical space', conceptualizing a house (physical space) as a translated form of social space. The article proposes the concept of the 'aesthetics of invisibility' to comprehend the identity of Iranian women and the domestic space in the 1980s. It uncovers the connection between the invisibility of the female body and domestic space through critical readings of contemporary printed and visual media, and also a study of 30 houses built in Tabriz during the 1980s. The paper reveals that for both Iranian women's bodies and domestic space, their invisibility and seclusion from the public world are equated with aesthetics, which is often interwoven with morality in Iranian society. It shows that the redefinition of the identity of women, their appearance, and the codes of conduct and dress came with modifications to the street facades of houses, and the design, organization and use of interior spaces.