Minoo Moallem, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005. 267 pages.
This book examines the construction of gender and patriarchy in Iran during the onset of modernity, the Islamic revolution of 1979, and the post-revolution era. Among the many works published by prominent scholars of Islam and Iranian women’s studies, Minoo Moallem’s investigation of the construction of gender by neo-colonial modernity and political movements of a nationalist or fundamentalist orientation deserves special attention.
Inspired by Michel Foucault as well as Caren Kaplan and Inderpal Grewal, Moallem incorporates a post-modern and a transnational feminist approach by arguing that post-modernity should be used as a framework to study the growth of modernity (p. 20). Challenging the popular belief that fundamentalism is a return to the roots and early periods of a tradition or a culture, she finds it “in dialogue with modernity” (p. 13) and thus argues that the Islamic fundamentalism observed in the twentieth century is a postmodernization phenomenon; in her words, “a by-product of the process of modernization” (ibid.). Nevertheless, she does not actually consider fundamentalism to be a truly post-modern phenomenon, since it does not respect the “concept of difference,” as is the case with nationalism.