Research and Thesis (Agronomy Graduate Program)
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Doctor of Philosophy
School/Department/Area: Centre for Human Rights Education
Proposed Completion Date: March 2014
Supervisors: Dr Caroline Fleay and Prof Linda Briskman
Thesis Title: Muslim women and oppression: challenging western superior attitudes
Key Words: Muslim women, Iran, Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Description of research: This research examines the portrayal of Muslim women's lives by former Muslim, best-selling author and fierce critic of Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali - a figure who appeals to western audiences across the social and political spectrum. The thesis argues her portrayal is inaccurate and pitched to appeal to racism, often under the guise of feminism. To counter her portrayal, I have interviewed women across the generations from a very conservative Muslim community - a small Arab village in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country against which Hirsi Ali has repeatedly urged a Western militarily attack.
Research Paper Thesis Statement Outline
Description of research: This PhD research describes a research through design approach to identifying comfort factors within the kinaesthetic experiences of human sensory activities and perceptions. Research through design has an explorative character and includes a participatory focus. The research explores the experience of women through the way they touch, move, and feel in the process of interacting with wool clothing. The research involved 'in-situation specificity' (e.g., secure vs. insecure situations, blindfolded vs. non-blindfolded, and happy vs. fearful condition) to understand the phenomenological representation of nature and human senses and behaviours. The conceptual garments were developed by the process of designing, building and testing highly experiential prototypes and different interaction ideas. The resultant garment designs reflected people's new ideas, skills, and bodily interactions and what they created subjectively by their sensing, adapting and reacting capabilities. This opened up a new approach to design: 'emotion-driven action possibilities' and proposes a new functionality for clothing design. The research therefore provides new design solutions for comfort from (1) a body of creative work, (2) a framework of 'enriched aesthetic interaction' approach, and (3) the development of design principles in the context of aesthetic comfort for clothing.