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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

6 - Exogamy, Brain Drain, and the Western Woman

from Part II - Agents of Correlation and Change


This chapter shows that in spite of her dominant position in commercial magazines of the late Pahlavi era, "the western woman" was also discursively constituted as the nemesis of the Iranian woman in the competition over the heart of the “eastern man.” The discussion in this chapter is framed by the heated public debate evoked by a 1965 bill to cancel the passports or revoke the citizenship of Iranian students who married foreign women. Backed by a trove of popular materials from the 1970s (including literature and films), the chapter addresses the cultural formation of "the western woman” and "the modern Iranian man” in the context of Iran’s brain drain, fears of cultural assimilation, and the sense that educated, modern Iranian men were being lost as a result of mixed marriages. This discussion is especially intriguing considering the fact that Mohammad Reza Shah’s first marriage to a foreign princess, Queen Fawziya of Egypt, was followed by his second marriage to Soraya, daughter of a German mother and an Iranian father.