n Journal for Islamic Studies - 'In my father's house' - gender, Islam and the construction of a gendered public sphere in Darfur, Sudan

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0257-7062



One of the main goals of the Islamist government of Sudan that came to power in 1989 was to construct an Islamic public sphere. In this project women were cast predominantly as mothers and wives outside the public space. At the same time the emphasis on gender segregation in public places necessitated the involvement of women, like female teachers, to act on behalf of the government in creating gendered Islamic public spaces. The article focuses on single female teachers in Kebkabiya, a small town in Darfur to examine how. They negotiated the Islamist moral discourse in order to construct alternative female subject positions in the public sphere. Formal education was considered a precondition for being a good (female) Muslim. However, single female teachers clearly defied the ideal of the married Muslim woman, as projected by the dominant Islamist discourse. It is argued that the veil, the mode of address, and the boarding house constituted important conditions of this negotiation. The enactment of the identity of the educated professional by these single female teachers exposed the shifting and permeable nature of the boundaries of the public sphere, which problematizes notions such as the 'private' and the 'public'.

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