Dr. Enaya Othman of Marquette University has recently received a Fulbright Scholar Award to research women’s use of traditional dress, thob, in the Middle East.
Othman is an associate professor of languages, literatures, and cultures in the university’s Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, and is the founder of the Arab and Muslim Women’s Research and Resource Institute. Along with serving as the president of the AMWRRI board of directors, Othman is also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Gender, Ethnic, and Cross-Cultural Studies.
While in Palestinian Territories and Jordan, Othman will be doing archival and onsite research to explore the influences of women’s dress choices in the region, according to a press release from Marquette University. She will be considering aspects such as dualities of regional cultures along with nationalization projects, cultural authenticity within a frame of modernity/hybridity, and local technologies employed in a globalized economy.
“In the Middle East, women’s traditional cultural dress is often studied only as museum material, or as an indicator of tribal identity,” Othman said, according to a Marquette University news release.
“Recently, however, women’s renewed interest in, and rethinking of, traditional dress indicates an assertion of agency and empowerment. Whether as entrepreneurs, designers or producers, women are starting to reinterpret the role of dress and reclaiming authority over dominant, stereotypical discourses about women.”
Othman is looking to situate these perspectives on clothing choices through the history, culture, and politics of the respective country, along with how the individuals see their own identity and relationship to their nation or culture. Othman has chosen the two areas because they share cultural resources and heritage, yet are unique in social boundaries and particular history.
Through Fulbright opportunities, scholars get the chance to explore and learn more in an increasingly interconnected world. This exploration by Dr. Othman will be yet another stride in building bridges of knowledge and understanding between people and cultures.