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Duke University Press

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Journal of Middle East Women's Studies

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This article explores American Palestinian women’s discursive strategies and identity politics by which they take control of their marital choices. Through the analysis of sixteen in-depth interviews with second-generation Palestinian women and personal observations within the community, the article shows that nationalist and religious discourses produced by the historical contexts respectively stimulated (semi)arranged in-group marriages in the 1990s and self-initiated exogamous marriages as of the early 2000s. Among the group, Islam has become the primary form of identification, and religious discourse has been circulating within Islamic institutions post-1980s. Based on this transformation, the study draws on the strategic use of religious sentiments and Islamic discourse and argues that women’s prioritization of Islamic identity has increased their agency in spouse selection and marriage process. Women’s negotiations within an Islamic framework also expose the ways Muslim women counter and redefine gender roles by fortifying their religious beliefs and reinterpreting Islamic doctrine.


Accepted version. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2 (July 2022): 195-215. DOI. © 2022 Duke University Press. Used with permission

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