Abaya and yoga pants: Women's activism in Kuwait

Emanuela Buscemi

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Women’s activism in Kuwait has historically intersected with projects of nation building and regime perpetuation. The government has attempted to combine instances of modernity with growing political demands from the tribal and Islamist sectors, instrumentalizing women’s activism as part of its strategy of regime survival.
In Kuwait, Islam shapes not only the position of women in society, but also the political discourse and is a main instrumentum regni for power legitimization. Secular activism has co-existed, challenged and collaborated with Islamist women’s committees and Islamic feminist groups, emphasizing the porous boundaries between secular and religious agency.
The present article investigates the relations among women’s militancy, Islam and modernity in contemporary Kuwait by means of a historical analysis, relying on data gathered through ethnographic enquiry and participant observation conducted in Kuwait between September 2012 and May 2013, and between January and May 2015.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)186-203
Number of pages18
JournalAG About Gender - International Journal of Gender Studies
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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