Frequent reports of honor killings, disfigurement, and sensational abuse have given rise to a consensus in the West, a message propagated by human rights groups and the media: Muslim women need to be rescued. Lila Abu-Lughod boldly challenges this conclusion. An anthropologist who has been writing about Arab women for thirty years, she delves into the predicaments of Muslim women today, questioning whether generalizations about Islamic culture can explain the hardships these women face and asking what motivates particular individuals and institutions to promote their rights.
In recent years Abu-Lughod has struggled to reconcile the popular image of women victimized by Islam with the complex women she has known through her research in various communities in the Muslim world. Here, she renders that divide vivid by presenting detailed vignettes of the lives of ordinary Muslim women, and showing that the problem of gender inequality cannot be laid at the feet of religion alone. Poverty and authoritarianism--conditions not unique to the Islamic world, and produced out of global interconnections that implicate the West--are often more decisive. The standard Western vocabulary of oppression, choice, and freedom is too blunt to describe these women's lives.
«Do Muslim Women Need Saving?» is an indictment of a mindset that has justified all manner of foreign interference, including military invasion, in the name of rescuing women from Islam--as well as a moving portrait of women's actual experiences, and of the contingencies with which they live.
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Harvard University Press, Massachusetts 2013
14 x 20 cm
Islam - Women Rights
«Tracing connections from human rights groups and international feminist NGOs, to philosophy and anthropology, to best-selling memoirs of Muslim women and titillating pulp fiction accounts of Muslim women’s suffering, Abu-Lughod argues that the West’s perception of Muslim women as creatures in need of rescue is shaped by a confluence of powerful forces. Incisively argued and often sharply critical, Abu-Lughod’s book―which will surely spark debate―is essential reading for anyone interested in women’s rights in the Muslim world.»―Leila Ahmed, author of A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence from the Middle East to America
«In this passionate, sharply articulated, and engaging argument, Lila Abu-Lughod describes how Islam has been transformed into a homogenized geography ‘somewhere out there’ and how its women, different as they are diverse, have become the excuse for political and military interventions. In place of the simplistic arguments that are bandied about on the global stage, this book reminds us to ask more important questions: who are the saviors of Muslim women and how did they acquire the right to be the saviors? Every thinking individual should read this book.»―Urvashi Butalia, author of The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India
«There is no one better qualified than Lila Abu-Lughod to take on difficult questions about Muslim women and their portrayal in the global media. Her answers shake up some fundamental assumptions held by liberals and conservatives alike and raise new questions. This book persuades us to consider new and more productive ways of thinking and acting.»―Mahmood Mamdani, author of Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror