Warning Signs of Fundamentalisms

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Edited by Ayesha Imam, Jenny Morgan & Nira Yuval-Davis
December 2004
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The papers relate to a variety of contexts and global issues: Afghanistan, Algeria, Austria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Gambia, India, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Palestine, Rwanda, South Africa, USA, Yugoslavia, Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender identities, multiculturalism, the Internet, as well as fundamentalisms in Catholic, Hindu and Jewish contexts.

Fundamentalist movements are political movements with religious, ethnic, and/or nationalist imperatives. They construct a single version of a collective identity as the only true, authentic and valid one, and use it to impose their power and authority. They usually claim to be the representatives of authentic tradition, and they speak against the corrupting influence of modernity and ‘the West’. However, fundamentalists are far from pre-modern. To promote their project, they use all modern technological means available, from the media to weaponry. Furthermore, the vision they conjure up is a constructed and selective vision, rather than a revival of something in the past. Since 2000 the popular appeal of fundamentalisms has been growing across the world and different communities.

Feminists have particular concerns when it comes to fundamentalist movements. Although many women take part in fundamentalist movements, overall fundamentalist politics tend to constitute a threat to women’s freedom and autonomy and often their lives. Gender relations in general, and women in particular, are often used to symbolize the collectivity, its ‘culture and tradition’, its boundaries and its future reproduction.

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