386.1 Defying the Saudi state: Women's tactics

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 4:15 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Alejandra MARINES , Universidad de Monterrey, Mexico

The Gulf area and particularly Saudi Arabia represents the resilience of authoritarian monarchies. Despite the continuous debates, petitions, and even demonstrations, the governments seem to resist the Arab spring contagion. During the last decade some women in Saudi Arabia have become more public in their demands, interacting with some other oppositionist groups, but at the same time, keeping themselves autonomous and with a public presence in the national debate on the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. Through their actions, voice and presence some Saudi women challenged the homogenous representation of women held by government and society, obtaining some "concessions". With the demonstrations occurring in the wider arena of the Middle East, Saudi society was not immune to the contagion and particularly women. Regardless the lack of tradition on public demonstrations in the kingdom and tight security control some women defied the order to continue to ask for changes. This paper aims to elucidate if there are some new elements either in the demands and tactics used by some women in Saudi Arabia, and at the same time, to think in terms of the possibilities and limitations of changing Saudi women’s role in society. Therefore, the first part of the paper will look at the structural elements that shape men and women’s role in the kingdom, and at that same time, partly explain the endurance of Saudi monarchy. The second part will analyse the features of the agency on women, assessing their tactics and contents to see if there are some changes in their society role and as political members and finally.