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.
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