Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Media Studies and Production, Temple University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Communications, New York University (NYU)
Thinking Outside the Box: Television and Gender in the Afghan Culture Wars

Although gender has always been a contentious issue in Afghanistan, since the events of 9/11 and the start of the "War on Terror", gender has become a particularly volatile matter in contemporary Afghan society. The medium at the heart of the most public and politically charged debates, often compared to opium and Satan, is television. More specifically, the tele-visual representation of women on Afghan television has instigated a series of escalating gender battles between "Islamists", "moderates", and others; culminating in riots, protests, and acts of violence perpetuated against television producers and celebrities. My dissertation research examines three television programs which represent the key frameworks for the tele-visual worlds that are shaping the political landscape of Afghanistan in their negotiations for power: 1) the state, 2) the private sector, 3) the transnational ngos. All three programs are facing government charges and bans based on Article 3 of the new constitution, which prohibits anything that is deemed as "contrary to the sacred religion of Islam". While issues pertaining to "Afghan Women" have been reverberating globally on an unprecedented volume and scale, little attention has been given to the cultural productions that constitute gender subjectivities in the daily lives of Afghans. I will observe and participate in the daily operations of the three television programs in order to explore television's catalytic role and function in fueling these public discourses around gender issues. Few works theorize these contesting claims on Afghan identity; yet doing so is crucial because it is through such conflicts, at the intersection of gender and television, that the Afghan cultural landscape gets shaped.