Summer Qasim

In this talk Summer discussed her research work that examines the growing resurgence of the embodiment of “feminine” virtues amongst ‘secular’ Euro-American women, for success in heteronormative relationships. These virtues are consciously embodied and understood as polarized against and subordinate to the “masculine.” Her research examined the dating practices of some 3,000 Euro-American women who met virtually to hone their techniques in embodying their “femininity.” The fieldwork was conducted over the course of a year and a half, in which participants in a dating coach’s online group attended webinars, private coaching sessions and posted on group forums to practice embodying the “feminine”. Careful consideration was given to subjects’ specific practices in disciplining the self to behave more “femininely” as a “corrective” to mainstream feminist practices. This study is then set against the backdrop of previous ethnographies of Muslim women who embodied the same “feminine” virtues as a pietistic practice, in part, as a reaction against an increasingly secularized Muslim majority state (Egypt). 

Summer Qassim is a Lecturer of Anthropology at the Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts at IBA, Karachi. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA, and an M.A. in Humanities and Social Theory from New York University. Her broad interest is the comparative study of Middle Eastern/Islamic cultures and she has pursued this in different intellectual projects - with special attention to human rights, the anthropology of piety groups in southern Beirut, and female Sufis in Damascus.