MOURNING IS BEAUTIFUL: TA'ZIYEH AND GENDER AFFIRMATION IN SOUTH IRAN
Iranian women's presence in Shi'i rituals was noted by travellers in pre-modern era and extensively described since the 19th century. After the Islamic Revolution, whose success was partially decided by Shi'i myths and symbols and by women's contributions, the attention towards gender aspects of Shi'i religious ceremonies increased, and now it is discussed in numerous recent works. So far, scholars have mainly observed and described the rituals performed in the capital Tehran, with the exception of Ingvild Flaskerud whose target of research is the female community of Shiraz. However, it is South Iran that presents striking peculiarities in the way women participate in Muharram ceremonies. This paper is based on ethnographic research carried out among women performers in Muharram rituals in South Iran, in particular in the Gulf area; it shows how women, by claiming their right to perform in a public arena, are also asking to be recognized as social, cultural, historical and religious agents.