Women in Sanaa: Public Appearance and Visual Representation

  • Irina Linke Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen
Keywords: visual culture, fieldwork, Yemen, performance, social space, gender, pictorial representation in the media, in-/visibility, face, translation


An exponential increase in media usage in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa (foreign satellite channels, Yemeni TV, photography and video) changes not only the (media) public (Öffentlichkeit), but social spaces in a local setting within a particular global-local framework. In this article I discuss women in the Yemeni capital who use television and other pictorial representations strategically, and, in reworking the frontiers between visibility and invisibility, change the gendered social spaces of their life world (Lebenswelt). Pictures, as parts of the life world open up views into new spaces ([Blick-] Räume) and make new relationships ([Blick-] Kontakte) possible. Looks and gazes determine social space and play a part in the social construction of bodies and spaces. This is negotiated on the performative as well as on the discursive level. The case study I present is part of a larger research project based on one year of fieldwork, field notes and 45 hours of audio-visual material. Analysis of the discourses of young women about their own image practices reveals how they perceive the endangerment of a social order, how they articulate their interest in change, and their strategies for becoming "visible." Thus, this article refers to culturally different readings of what can be seen. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0902150


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Author Biography

Irina Linke, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen
Irina LINKE, M.A., Dipl.-Art. ist Ethnologin und Dokumentarfilmerin und promoviert an der Humboldt-Universität in Berlin. Sie ist Mitglied im interdisziplinären Graduiertenkolleg "Interkulturelle Kommunikation – Interkulturelle Kompetenz" am KWI in Essen. Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte sind Visuelle Anthropologie, Dokumentarfilm, Gender, sozialer Raum und Interkulturelle Kommunikation.
How to Cite
Linke, I. (2009). Women in Sanaa: Public Appearance and Visual Representation. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-10.2.1200