Grounds for Debate: Afghan Women’s bodies as a site of contestation after September 11, 2001 Open Access

Fiero, Mollie (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL:



Despite the immense consideration given to 9/11 in American public life, the “story” of 9/11 has remained incomplete in popular media and state-based sources. Afghan women’s bodies, and by extension, their stories and life experiences, were selectively cultivated and shared to serve distinct political interests after September 11, 2001. The Bush Administration quickly latched onto Afghan women as a site of possible “liberation.” American feminists portrayed Afghan women in a manner that denied their agency by focusing on “religious oppression”, such as the role of the hijab and women’s equality within Islam broadly. Amidst this frenzy of attention paid towards Afghan women as an idea, and as a site for contestation, Afghan women’s writing and efforts were rarely shared. By using interviews recorded as part of the Columbia University Oral History Archive, this thesis questions why certain narratives have not been as extensively shares and uses these perspectives to enhance an understanding of 9/11.


Table of Contents


Introduction ... 1

Chapter I. President Bush, the First Lady, and their “Voices of Hope” ... 9

Chapter II: American Feminists & 9/11 ...22

Chapter III: Revisiting Afghan Women’s Stories through the Columbia Archive... 46




About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files