Struggle for Equality From the Constitutional Revolution to Cyberfeminism with a Focus on the Role of New Media in the Women’s Movement in Iran

A Dissertation
Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy (Dr. Phil.)
to the Department of Political and Social Sciences
of Freie Universität Berlin
by: Rezvan Moghaddam
Berlin, 2019

I dedicate this dissertation to the women’s rights defenders from the beginning
of the women’s movement in Iran to the present day, making a difference through
their diverse initiatives to promote justice and to achieve equality.
Research for this dissertation was conducted under the auspices and direction
of two academic institutions. This began during post graduate studies with the
Department of Political Science and Social Sciences at The Freie Universität (FU)
in Berlin, Germany. Research subsequently continued with the Department of
Sociology in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
(VU) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I cannot adequately express how grateful I
am to have had the opportunity to be part of these two remarkable institutions.
I am profoundly and eternally grateful to my initial supervisor Professor
Helgard Kramer, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the Freie Universität
Berlin since 1993 and currently Professor Emerita. During the time of my research,
Professor Kramer recognized the challenges I faced and responded with an
impressive spectrum of qualities. She reached out to me both professionally and
personally. She provided precisely the right inputs to help me transcend obstacles
and to navigate a positive path forward. She has continued to open doors for me to
do research in my own ways. She has constantly encouraged me to develop my own
voice, to be more open and to participate actively in political and social academic
debates. My development and this dissertation in particular are in great degree a
tribute to Professor Kramer’s inspiring repertoire of professional guidance, vision
and humanity. I am thankful to have the pleasure of knowing and working with
Professor Gülay Çağlar. I owe a special thanks to Prof. Dr. Gülay Çağlar Professor
of Social Anthropology for accepting to be my second supervisor at FU, who played
a key role in helping me to develop my framework. I must equally express very
special acknowledgment and appreciation to my advisor Professor Halleh Ghorashi,
Professor in Diversity and Integration in the Department of Sociology at the Vrije
Universiteit. Professor Ghorashi constantly demonstrated a greatspirit and provided
guidance that inspired my research and enabled me to bring it to fruition in the form
of this dissertation. Many stages of this journey have their unique challenges.
During this research period in the Netherlands Professor Ghorashi gave timely and
valuable research suggestions. Her practical instructions on academic writing were
eminently priceless. My development and the realization of this dissertation
therefore owe the deepest gratitude to Professor Ghorashi.
I am grateful that my advisors had the professionalism and generosity of spirit
to be positively enabling and empowering mentors.
In addition, two organizations merit special mention. I would like to express
special acknowledgment to Scholars At Risk (SAR), an international network of
institutions and individuals whose mission it is to protect scholars and promote
academic freedom. I also gratefully note the contributions of The Foundation for
Refugee Students UAF (Stichting Voor Vluchteling-Studenten UAF) for their
moral support that gave me the means to develop my research, to pursue my
education and to broaden my horizons.
During my time at the VU I was fortunate to meet many diverse and inspiring
academics, with whom I could engage, share and develop thoughts, during sojourns
into Amsterdam and during the process of refining, synthesizing and translating that
nexus of thoughts into this dissertation.
My sincere thanks extend to all colleagues at the VU for their ongoing valuable
contributions, stimulating engagement and often challenging discussions. I cannot
adequately describe the profound importance and benefits of working in such a
stimulating and positive collegial environment. In particular, I express gratitude to
Nadira Omarjee, Zsuzsa Kovacs and Suzanne Verhoog for creating such a very
pleasant work atmosphere and making me feel as “at home” as possible.
I also wish to express my gratefulness for the good fortune to have been
extremely fortunate to work with many exceptional people over years who
increased my courage to explore and develop my own work. Several were generous
enough to edit, read and comment on my entire manuscript. For such valuable
contributions, I wish to thank in particular Tori Egherman, Shiva Pazoki and
Paiman Maria Davarifard.
This research would not have been possible without the cooperation and input
of all the people who agreed to be interviewed, as well as all those who contributed
to the online questionnaire. I am deeply grateful for everyone’s time, inputs and
belief in the value of this effort.
As a person intimately involved with social movements, I am of course grateful
to all who have contributed more broadly to the realization of this dissertation. I am
aware that some forms of support are subtle, yet in their own way are sources of
great strength. So many communities and peoples have helped me in so many ways,
directly as well as indirectly. Some are also not named for reasons of respect or
discretion. Although it is not possible to name everyone, please be assured of my
deep gratitude for each form of support.
Finally, I thank you, the reader, for your attention and thoughtfulness. I hope
that the efforts here provide you with some meaningful reward for your kind
investment of time and attention. I look forward to receiving your views and
observations. I hope as well that in the future we may have some positive
opportunities to continue this journey together.

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