Cocoons as a space of their own: a case of Emirati women learners

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Gender, Place and Culture


© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This article focuses on ‘cocooning’ as a spatial practice of Emirati higher education women learners in a single-sex learning context, which emerged from exploring the intersectional and intertwined relationship of gender, place and culture with its unique cultural formation that informs women learners’ spatiality. To understand women’s spatiality and explore these intersecting relations, I conducted an ethnographic qualitative inquiry, applying multiple levels of data gathering and analysis. I also utilised social theories of space as a theoretical framework, specifically the social construction of space and Lefebvre’s triad of perceived, conceived and lived space. Cocooning, represented in these women learners’ unique spatial appropriation in their quest for a space of their own, emerged as a pervasive socially constructed spatial theme. As a spatial practice, it was largely influenced by the women learners’ cultural model, including socio-cultural status and gender roles, rooted in their national, historical colonial and traditional past as well as current economic, political, demographic, academic-institutional and global positions and demands. Furthermore, cocooning is a spatial representation of what also seems a universal longing among women, beyond context and culture, for a space of one’s own. Such a spatial need is manifested differently in the perceived space while shared in the conceived and lived.

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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Gergana Alzeer, Zayed University