Beyond a black sea of sheilas and abayas: Do emirati women students have a space of their own?

Source of Publication

Journal of International Women's Studies


© 2020 Journal of International Women's Studies. This paper is concerned with Emirati women students' spaces of inclusion and exclusion with specific focus on both their physical bodies and the places they occupy, and the mental space of their creative work where they forge a space for themselves. The paper employs ethnographic research at a women's federal university campus in the UAE using several levels of data gathering and interviews while utilizing thematic and contextual analysis of the data sets. The work is backed up by the theoretical framework of feminist theory and Lefebvre's perceived and conceived space. Lefebvre's perceived space is represented through the physical presence of the female body, and its pure material representation, while the conceived space represents the mental abstract spaces constructed in these women's writing that come to form a textual space of their own making. The findings emphasize these women's lack of space, their exclusion, and their agency in utilizing their bodies as a space of their own while constructing other mental arenas beyond the material world to assert themselves. The resulting spaces are often seen as a rebellious and dissident medium against what social and cultural norms allow. Such actions, practices and representations of space are culturally and socially driven while being closely intertwined with their unique identity as Emirati women.

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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Gergana Alzeer, Zayed University
Omnia Amin, Zayed University

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