Dissertation Abstracts

Strategies and Practices of Resistance of Druze Women against Multiple Power Relations

Author: Barakat, Ebtesam Has, ebtesam1970@gmail.com
Department: Sociology and Anthropology & Political Science
University: Bar-Ilan University & Tel-Aviv Ybiversity, Israel
Supervisor: Dr. Orna Sasson-levy & Prof. Amal Jamal
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Hebrew

Keywords: Women , religious , Strategies , Resistance
Areas of Research: Women in Society


Women’s rights are location (community, culture, religion) and time dependent. For example, while religious Druze women struggle, to gain higher education without being excluded from the religious community and to be able to hold a driving license and own a car in order to gain freedom of mobility both within the intra-rural and the extra-rural space, Jewish, Moslem and Christian women take such rights for granted.

The main research question is: what are the strategies that well-educated and uneducated Arab Druze women use to oppose patriarchal society and the traditions based upon male interpretation of the religion’s writings? How do these women try to improve their social and economic status?

It is the intention of this research to give voice to Druze women - the uneducated in particular -whose voice has never been highlighted in academic research and discourse. This study aims to explain the structural, social, and religious contexts that inform the strategies used by Druze women, across different education levels and occupations, to resist and navigate their position as inferiors in a traditional Druze society.

The research hypothesis states that the Druze society which is a rural society segregated from Jewish culture and from most of the Arab communities within Israel, fanatically adheres to agnation patterns of the traditional family, meaning the superiority of men over women. The political and social factors combined with the factor of the religious institution, oppress and imprison women: the geographical segregation reduces the chances of integrating Druze women in the national labor market and lessens the chances of Druze women of meeting women from other communities, and particularly from feminist associations. For these reasons, Druze women experience a particular intersection of gender, communal, ethnic, national and even class-based oppressions. This hypothesis is based on Hill-Collins claim (1990, 221-238) stating that the oppression women suffer from, is not solely the result of their common identity as women. Rather, their experiences result from the intersectionality of additional identity characteristics such as race and class, which are mechanisms of oppression not less severe than the gender-identity based oppression.

This study is committed to feminist epistemology and methodology: it acknowledges that social status, gender, sexual orientation, race and nationality, affect the ability to recognize the power relations and the oppression of the “others”, or voices that are found on the margins of mainstream society (Devault, 1999). This study does not pursue an objective truth, but rather a life experience that can be described and narrated by the Druze subjects holding unique and significant knowledge, intending to put these women in the center and change their status from segregated to active (Harding, 1987, 7; Tuval-Mashiach & Spector-Marzel, 2010, 16 (Hebrew)).