The Women Want The Fall of The (Gendered) Regime: In What Ways Are Syrian Women Challenging State Feminism Through an Online Feminist Counterpublic?

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The post-2011 breakdown of state media authority in Syria exposed a multilayered terrain of competing counter-discourses, in which citizen journalists were positioned as narrators of events on the ground. Conceptualized in this paper as Emerging Syrian Media (ESM), the rapid pluralization of Syria’s media landscape has irrevocably transformed how citizens engage with the discourse disseminated by the al-Assad regime. However, this phenomenon has not been examined through a gender-based approach. Employing a feminist post-structuralist perspective and utilizing subaltern counterpublic theory, this paper examines whether the opening up of a virtual space has enabled the creation of an online feminist counterpublic, through which Syrian women are able to challenge the dominant representations of gender within the Syrian state feminism discourse. A Critical Discourse Analysis of texts produced by two state-affiliated media outlets reveals the intrinsically patriarchal nature of Syrian state feminism, while a narrative analysis of seven interviews with women participating in Emerging Syrian Media explores the ways in which such a discourse is being challenged. Through their performance of ‘active narrator’ identities, production of anti-regime discourses, and participation in women’s discussion groups, all seven women expressed an ability to counter the gender discourse of the regime. The occurrence of such challenges within confined spheres of activity results in the theorizing of a specifically ‘inward-oriented’ online feminist counterpublic within the ESM online space, whereby alternative discourses on gender can be both established and enacted.

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Vol. 14, Iss. 1 (Fall 2020)


page(s) 137-183


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Cornell University Library



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Chancellor, Alice. "The Women Want The Fall of The (Gendered)Regime In What Ways Are Syrian Women Challenging State Feminism Through an Online Feminist Counterpublic?." Cornell International Affairs Review Vol. 14, Iss. 1 (Fall 2020).

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