An Islam of Her Own: Reconsidering Religion and Secularism in Women's Islamic Movements

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Overview

As the world grapples with issues of religious fanaticism, extremist politics, and rampant violence that seek justification in either “religious” or “secular” discourses, women who claim Islam as a vehicle for individual and social change are often either regarded as pious subjects who subscribe to an ideology that denies them many modern freedoms, or as feminist subjects who seek empowerment only through rejecting religion and adopting secularist discourses. Such assumptions emerge from a common trend in the literature to categorize the ‘secular’ and the ‘religious’ as polarizing categories, which in turn mitigates the identities, experiences and actions of women in Islamic societies. Yet in actuality Muslim women whose activism is grounded in Islam draw equally on principles associated with secularism.

In An Islam of Her Own, Sherine Hafez focuses on women’s Islamic activism in Egypt to challenge these binary representations of religious versus secular subjectivities. Drawing on six non-consecutive years of ethnographic fieldwork within a women's Islamic movement in Cairo, Hafez analyzes the ways in which women who participate in Islamic activism narrate their selfhood, articulate their desires, and embody discourses in which the boundaries are blurred between the religious and the secular.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An Islam of Her Own makes important contributions to our understanding of contemporary forms of Islamic activism and will be of great use to students and scholars in the fields of women's studies, anthropology and Middle East studies."-Amira Mittermaier,European Association of Social Anthropologists

"An informative, critical engagement of the interplay of feminism and religion in a postcolonial society."-A. Madhi,Choice

"A unique and thought-provoking study of women's Islamic activism in Egypt."-Nadine Muller and Claire O'Callaghan,The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

“Emphasizing narratives that explore modern selfhood and identity politics among Islamic activist women, Hafez examines the many contexts that transcend an opposition between religion and secularism. This timely, excellent book formulates new methodological and theoretical approaches relevant to anthropology, religious studies, gender studies, and Middle East studies.”

-Susan Slyomovics,co-editor of Women and Power in the Middle East

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814773031
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 4/11/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sherine Hafez is Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and the author of The Terms of Empowerment: Islamic Women’s Activism in Cairo.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Introducing Desiring Subjects
2 Writing Religion: Islam and Subjectivity
3 Women’s Islamic Movements in the Making
4 An Islam of Her Own: Narratives of Activism
5 Desires for Ideal Womanhood
6 Development and Social Change: Mehmeit
7 Reconsidering Women’s Desires in Islamic Movements
Glossary
Notes
Bibliography
Index
About the Author

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