SOAS University of London

Centre for Iranian Studies

Dr Elaheh Rostami-Povey

PhD (The Open University), MA (Sussex), BSc (Hons)(University of East London)
  • Research
  • Publications


Elaheh Rostami-Povey
Centre for Iranian Studies

Associate Member

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies


Dr Elaheh Rostami-Povey
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Dr. Elaheh Rostami-Povey is an academic, writer and researcher. Her book, Iran’s Influence: A Religious-Political State and Society In its Region (Zed Books 2010) is based on testimonies of Iranians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians and Egyptians – activists, journalists, refugees, exiles and academics – with diverse political views ranging from Islamist modernists, the secular left, nationalists and feminists, whom she interviewed throughout 2007-2009 in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and the UK. Her book, Afghan Women: Identity and Invasion, (Zed Books 2007) is based on qualitative research findings, including interviews with women and men in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, the UK and the USA. This research was funded by the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC UK in 2004-05). This book is intended to counter the often inaccurate and misleading impressions put about by the media and politicians in the West when they talk about Afghanistan and Afghan women in particular. It is a challenge to Western feminists who do not try to understand women in Muslim majority societies and cultures. Elaheh’s book, Women, Work & Islamism, Ideology and Resistance in Iran (Zed Books first edition 1999 and second edition 2010) is based on an extensive field research during 1989-1992 in Iran. This book analyses women’s employment across classes and levels of religiosity. The book focuses on women’s struggle for change and the impact that this has had on state ideology and on gender relations in both the public and the private spheres. She has also co-edited (with Tara Povey) Women, Power and Politics in 21st Century Iran (Ashgate 2012). This book examines the women’s movement in Iran and its role in contesting gender relations since the 1979 revolution. Looking at examples from politics, law, employment, environment, media, religion and the struggle for democracy, the book demonstrates how material conditions have important social and political consequences for the lives of women in Iran and exposes the need to challenge the dominant theoretical perspectives on gender and Islam.


Dr. Elaheh Rostami-Povey’s research focuses on Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East, in particular gender issues in Iran. Women’s employment, feminisms, war, conflict, diaspora, and Iran in the Middle East. Her books and articles have been translated into Farsi, Arabic, Portuguese and Korean languages.


Authored Books

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2010) Iran's Influence: A Religious-political State and Society in its Region. UK: Ashgate.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2007) Afghan Women, Identity and Invasion. London; New Yorks: Zed Books.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (1999) Women, work and Islamism: Ideology and Resistance in Iran. London: Zed Books, under her pen name Maryam Poya. Published by Oxford University Press in Pakistan in 2000. Also translated into Farsi and published in Iran under her name Elaheh Rostami by Jamee Iranian, Tehran, Iran in 2001..


Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2007) 'Gender, Agency and Identity, the Case of Afghan Women in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran'. Journal of Development Studies, (43) 2, pp 294-311.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2007) 'Afghan Refugees in Iran, Pakistan, the U.K., and the U.S. and Life after Return: A Comparative Gender Analysis'. Iranian Studies, (40) 2.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2005) 'Women and Work in Iran'. State of nature: an online journal of radical ideas Autumn.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2004) 'Trade Unions and Women's NGOs in Iran'. Development in Practice, (14) 1/2, pp 254-266.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2003) 'Women in Afghanistan: Passive Victims of the borga or Active Social Participants?'. Development in Practice, (13) 2-3, pp 266-77.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2001) 'Feminist Contestations of Institutional Domains in Iran'. Feminist Review, (69), pp 44-72.

Edited Books or Journals

Povey, Tara and Rostami-Povey, Elaheh, (eds.), (2012) Women, Power and Politics in 21st Century Iran. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.

Book Chapters

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2014) 'Afghan Women: Resistance and Struggle in Afghanistan and diasporic communities'. In: Makdisi, Jean and Bayyumi, Nuha and Rida Sidawi, Rafif, (eds.), Arab Feminisms: Gender and Equality in the Middle East. London: I.B. Tauris.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2014) 'Afghanistan'. In: Shahin, Emad El-Din, (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2013) 'Making Women's participation in the MENA Workforce Visible'. In: DeLong-Bas, Natana J., (ed.), Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2013) 'Afghanistan'. In: DeLong-Bas, Natana J., (ed.), the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2013) 'Iran's Influence: A Religio-Political State and Society in its Region and in the World'. In: Hooglund, Eric and Stenberg, Leif, (eds.), Navigating Contemporary Iran: Challenging Economic, Social and Political Perceptions. Abingdon; New York: Routledge.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2013) 'Borrowing and Credit: Women's Contemporary and Historical Practice'. In: DeLong-Bas, Natana J., (ed.), Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women. UK: Oxford University Press.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2012) 'Afghan Women's Resistance and Struggle: Gender, Agency, and Identity'. In: Afshar, Haleh, (ed.), Women and Fluid Identities - Strategic and Practical Pathways Selected by Women. London: Palgrave, Macmillan UK, pp 146-165.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2005) 'Trade Unions and Women's NGOs. Diverse Civil Society Organizations in Iran'. In: Eade, Deborah and Leather, A., (eds.), Development NGOs and Labor Unions. Terms of Engagement.. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, pp 303-319.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2004) 'Women in Afghanistan, Passive Victims of the Borga or active social Participants?'. In: Afshar, Haleh and Eade, Deborah, (eds.), Development, Women, and War: Feminist Perspectives, A Development in Practice Reader. Oxford: Oxfam GB, pp 172-187.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2004) 'Civil Society in Afghanistan'. In: Joseph, Suad, (ed.), Family, Law and Politics, Encyclopaedia of Women and Islamic Cultures. Leiden: Brill Publishers, pp 40-41.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2004) 'Political - Social Movements, Unions & Workers' Movements in Iran'. In: Joseph, Suad, (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, Vol 2 Family, Law & Politics. Leiden: Brill, pp 669 - 670.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2004) 'Women in Afghanistan, Passive Victims of the Borga or active social Participants?'. In: Afshar, Haleh and Eade, D., (eds.), Development, Women, and War: Feminist Perspectives. Oxford: Oxfam.

Monographs and Working Papers

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2009) The 2009 Uprising in Iran: The Need to Dispel Prevailing Misconceptions. London: Centre for Development Policy and Research, Development Viewpoint 39.

Book Reviews

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2013) 'Review: Veiled employment, Islamism and the political economy of women's employment in Iran by Roksana Bahramitash and Hadi Salehi Esfahani, Syracuse University Press, 2011.'. Journal of Gender Studies, (22) 3, pp 349-351.

Rostami-Povey, Elaheh (2013) 'Review: Globalizing Afghanistan: Terrorism, War, and the Rhetoric of Nation Building by Zubeda Jalalzai and David Jefferess and Land of the Unconquerable: the Lives of Contemporary Afghan Women by Jennifer Heath, Ashraf Zahedi'. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, (38) 2, pp 495-498.


This list was last generated on Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 19:45 Europe/London.