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"Om hon lever vill människor se mer och mer": Rykten, splittrad kvinnlighet och heder bland svenska kvinnor från Mellanöstern
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2001 In: Sociologisk forskning, ISSN 0038-0342, no 3-4, 115-147 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. no 3-4, 115-147 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-90645OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-90645DiVA: diva2:163083
Available from: 2003-09-01 Created: 2003-09-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Heder på liv och död: Våldsamma berättelser om rykten, oskuld och heder
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Heder på liv och död: Våldsamma berättelser om rykten, oskuld och heder
2003 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Life-and-death honour : Violent stories about reputation, virginity and honour
Abstract [en]

This dissertation discusses how reputation, virginity and honour are made topical in the stories of the lives of Arab and Kurdish women and connected with understandings of culture and religion. The dissertation is composed of five articles, which contain the principal analysis, and five chapters that discuss the project as a whole; the development of the main topics, and choices concerning methodological, ethical and theoretical approaches.

The empirical material of the dissertation consists of interviews with ten Arab and Kurdish women in Sweden, and seven legal cases of honor related violence. The interview material is analysed as a whole – focusing on the importance of reputation in women’s creation of identity, and how this may be related to cultural conceptions of divided femininity (virgin-whore) and honour (article 4). I also conduct an in-depth analysis of one interview, where meaning is created through a story, in which liberty is contrasted with constraint (article 3). In the analysis of the legal cases, I discuss the arguments of verdicts concerning honour related violence, and criticise the courts’ understanding of crimes as demarcated acts (articles 1 & 5). I also analyse the (violent) stories of the actual lives of women found in the legal cases in their contexts (articles 2 & 5).

Throughout the dissertation, I aim at a constructivist attempt that sees culture and gender as creative frames of interpretation. This attempt is connected with a hermeneutic perspective, which sees a statement or an act as comprehensible only when interpreted in its context (e.g. in a cultural context of honour). It is also connected with a feminist understanding of men’s violence against women, which relates the meaning of an act of violence to culturally accepted forms of control and cultural conceptions of gender.

In the analysis of the empirical material, I show how culture is created as contrast in the lives of women. ’Arab/Kurdish’ and ’Swedish’ appear as exclusive categories, and are connected with cultural conceptions of divided femininity and honour. Within these categories, a woman is either a virgin or a whore, and a woman that has been branded as a whore will be stained forever. Men’s honour will not be restored until she is extinguished. When these cultural conceptions are used in the life of a woman who lives with these highly normative demands, they may be crucial and signify experiences of violence. A woman with bad reputation may be defined as a ”Swedish whore” be her male relatives, contrasted with being an ”Arab/Kurdish virgin”. The honour of these men will not be restored until she is excluded from the family or dies: to be a virgin or a whore may be a life-and-death matter.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2003. 129 p.
Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 0282-7492 ; 128
Sociology, honour, reputation, virginity, divided femininity (virgin-whore), culture, gender, identity, honor related violence, constructivist attempt, ethics, Sociologi
National Category
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3519 (URN)91-554-5686-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2003-09-26, Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2003-09-01 Created: 2003-09-01Bibliographically approved

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