Palestinian costume, the intifada and the gendering of nationalist discourse

Tina Sherwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The essay explores why the peasant woman's costume has become one of the dominant representations of Palestinian cultural identity. The costume was traditionally a marker of regional and familial identity, however it has been invested with multiple meanings as a result of the dispossession and exile of Palestinian communities. The focus of the conflict are competing claims to the same territory. Thus the use of peasant symbolism is a result of Palestinians being engaged in articulating an identity rooted in the land. Nationalist discourses through imaging the women in traditional dress have sought to prescribe women's national role as confined to the domestic sphere. However the costume's design and significance is continually transformed by women. In re-making the dress, women express their national aspirations and have used the dress to challenge the positions assigned to them in national discourses, this was particularly evident during the Intifada uprising when women wearing flag dresses crossed the boundaries between private and public spaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-303
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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