Presented at the Middle East Studies Association Conference

On 1 December 2022, I presented “Politics of the Everyday: Iranian Women Gamers and Cyberspace Censorship” for the panel Rethinking Women’s Empowerment at the Middle East Studies Association Conference.


My research uncovers the everyday experiences of Iranian women gamers in online gaming by tracing the history of internet, social media, and the game industry in Iran. While gaming is an ordinary phenomenon around the world, Iranian women must find ways to engage in online worlds despite punitive foreign sanctions and local censorship laws in addition to navigating a highly masculinized space in game culture. Reconceptualizing questions of gender, rights to access, and labor in the context of gaming by investigating how Iranian women gamers use their labor for monetary or social capital, I build on the work of scholars who analyze emotion and social space through intensity of attachments and historical memory (Behrouzan 2016; Amrute 2016; Ahmed 2004). Because of their sociopolitical reality, Iranian women become affectively entangled in virtual spaces that lead to new constructions and expressions of the self. I aim to conceptualize how these gamers as embodied subjects negotiate their social and material subjectivity within online worlds due to their online and offline conditions of cyber oppression and toxic masculinity. In doing so, the paper offers narrative sketches of Iranian lives through participant observation, interviews, as well as historical frameworks to elucidate the ethnographic palimpsest that I have conducted across gaming and social media platforms.