Project lead: Prof. Dr. Winfried Pauleit (ZeMKI Lab "Film, Media Art and Popular Culture")
Funding institution: Bremen-TRAC/EU Marie Curie COFOUND program
Project duration: 2013 - 2015
The interdisciplinary research focused on a comparative study of the work of independent Muslim feminist women filmmakers from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, who, since the late 1970’s, have shared similar, yet varying, histories of politically motivated Islamization (Pakistan), Islamic Revolution (Iran), and Talibanization (Afghanistan) in their respective countries.
As these women filmmakers have revisited their particular histories to present a counter-history of developments and practices, particularly those instigated by fundamentalist forces on the pretext of religion, my study will chart and establish the emergence of a Feminist Cinematic Resistance Movement that can be seen as an anti-fundamentalist "cinema for change" - one that is pioneered by Muslim women from these societies that have a shared history of fundamentalist ideologies, and state imposition of rigid Sharia laws that have particularly targeted women’s rights and freedoms. The work examines the contribution of these Muslim women filmmakers who have boldly defied socio-cultural, political, and religious constraints in some of the most hostile environments and conservative societies, and chosen film as their medium to question various forms of oppression in their respective countries.
Additionally, the study aimed to evaluate the significance of these productions as pedagogical tools for consciousness-raising, cross-cultural communication, and filmic activism to garner support for social change and legal reforms in these countries.
The interdisciplinary research was part of a book project that bridged film studies, women's / feminist studies, religion / Islam and culture in Muslim societies, history, and cross-cultural communication with a focus on gender and human rights issues, and feminist cinematic activism and resistance by Muslim women filmmakers.