A RESEARCH NOTE FROM NAZANIN SHAHROKNI  


Nazanin Shahrokni, Assistant Professor of Sociology


For the academic year 2018-19, I received the Undergraduate RA Fellowship to hire Hanna Seraji (anthropology major with a minor in gender and women’s studies) as my research assistant for a research project titled “Pink Rides” Go Global: A Comparative Study of Four Illustrative Cases of Women-Only Taxis Across the Globe.

Building on my interest in the interconnectedness of micro-level practices and macro-level politics, I have crafted my second book project: a multi-national transregional study on the politics around the production of gender segregated public transportation as exemplified in women-only taxi services in Malaysia, The United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Iran.Discourses of sexual harassment have been co-opted by the state and market to justify these gendered initiatives; present scholarship reverts to cultural explanations highlighting women’s geographies of fear (Valentine 1989) and dangers in the city (Wilson 1991) to explain them.

However, these approaches ignore economic, social and cultural processes shaping the specific forms in which these initiatives are exerted across the globe. Further work is necessary to elucidate their embeddedness in differently configured regimes of power that ultimately affect the production and negotiation of the cultural meanings associated with such initiatives. The project also highlights how Islam is being implicated differently in these different national contexts.

During the year, Hanna Seraji helped me develop a website for a course I am designing on the sociology of the veil. She also collected data to help me provide country-specific reports: a historical overview of the women-only cabs initiative in particular national contexts.

Prior to working with me on this project, Hanna was my student in Sociology of Sex and Gender (Spring 2018) and received an A for the course. As a student, I appreciated her willingness to learn and produce creative essays. As a research assistant, I appreciated her commitment to the project and the enthusiasm and thoroughness with which she carried out tasks she was given.