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The criterion of consistency: Women's self-presentation at Yarmouk University, Jordan



In the late 20th century, for the first time, higher education became an attainable goal for Jordanian women of all backgrounds, and Jordanian universities became vibrant, coed public spaces. The first-generation-female college students who enter these spaces take relational traditions of female identity construction that developed in intimate settings and adapt them for use in large-scale, anonymous environments. Identities based on relationships are reified for exchange in a public sphere, and imperatives that had seemed to keep women in a “private” realm are transformed as women move in “public” space. After exploring the meanings of women's dress at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan, I conclude with remarks on the implications of my study for the headscarf debate in France.