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Social Representations of Women who Live as Men in Northern Albania

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr. Juliet Foster.

In rural, northern Albania there is a tradition whereby a woman may choose to live as a man. In doing so this “burrneshe” adopts male-typical dress, work, social roles, habits, and even speech and body language. Although gender transgression in other contexts (e.g., LGBT ) is generally viewed negatively in Albanian society, burrnesha are highly esteemed. My Mphil and PhD research uses qualitative analyses of interview data to explore the social representations of burrnesha held by burrnesha themselves and by their surrounding communities. I am particularly interested in the way that their representations are actively positioned within the wider network of Albanian values, and how this positioning leads to unique treatment and attitudes toward them in their communities. In order to understand this, I will: 1) compare representations of burrnesha in three distinct regions of Albania, 2) analyze the specific role of male appearance in their representations, and 3) explore how their representations are changing with time in response to a dynamic political-economic landscape.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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