Gender and Sexuality in Muslim Cultures

 Edited by Gul Ozyegin, The College of William and Mary, USA. 

A must-read for anyone interested in Muslim cultures, this volume not only explores Muslim identities through the lens of sexuality and gender - their historical and contemporary transformations and local and global articulations - but also interrogates our understanding of what constitutes a ‘Muslim’ identity in selected Muslim-majority countries at this pivotal historical moment, characterized by transformative destabilizations in which national, ethnic, and religious boundaries are being re-imagined and re-made. Contributors take on the most fundamental questions at the intersections of gender, sexuality, and the body.

Several overarching questions frame the volume: How does studying gender and sexuality expand and enrich our understanding of Muslim-majority countries, historically and at present? How does the embodiment of ‘Muslim’ identity get reconfigured in the context of twenty-first-century globalism? What analytical questions are raised about ‘Islam’ when its diverse meanings and multifaceted expressions are closely examined? What roles do gender and sexuality play in the construction of cultural, religious, nationalistic, communal, and militaristic identities? How have power struggles been signified in and on the bodies of women and sexuality? How have global dynamics, such as the intensification and spread of neoliberal ideologies and policies, affected changing dynamics of gender and sexuality in specific locales?

Here global dynamics touch down in diverse contexts, from masculinity crises around war disabilities, transnational marriages, and fathering in Turkey, Egypt, and Pakistan; to Muslim femininity narratives around female genital cutting, sexuality in divorce proceedings, and spouse selection; to gender crossing practices as well as protesting bodies, queering voices, and claims of authenticity in literary and political discourse. This book brings exciting research on these and other topics together in one place, allowing the essays to speak to one another across time, cultural locales, and disciplines, and enables the reader to engage the volume in comparative and cross-disciplinary fashion.

Contents: Foreword, Deniz Kandiyoti; Introduction, Gul Ozyegin. Part 1 Challenged Masculinities: In vitro nationalism: masculinity, disability, and assisted reproduction in war-torn Turkey, Salih Can Açıksöz; Challenged masculinities: sexuality, ᶜUrfi marriage, and the state in Dahab, Egypt, Mustafa Abdalla; Of migration, marriage, and men: rethinking the masculinity of transnational husbands from rural Pakistan, Aisha Anees Malik; ‘Men are less manly, women are more feminine’: the shopping mall as a site for gender crisis in Istanbul, Cenk Özbay; Between ideals and enactments: the experience of ‘new fatherhood’ among middle-class men in Turkey, Fatma Umut Beşpınar; The Janissaries and their bedfellows: masculinity and male friendship in eighteenth-century Ottoman Istanbul, Serkan Delice. Part 2 Producing Muslim Femininities, Sexualities, and Gender Relations: The continuous making of pure womanhood among Muslim women in Cairo: cooking, depilating, and circumcising, Maria Frederika Malmström; Introduction to ‘In conversation on female genital cutting’: a pedagogical perspective, Victoria A. Castillo; In conversation on female genital cutting, Goran A. Sabir Zangana, Maria Frederika Malmström and Faith Barton; ‘I’ve had to be the man in this marriage’: claims about gender roles and sexual practices during judicial divorce cases in Damascus Shari’a Court One in 2005-2006, Jessica Carlisle; Negotiating courtship practices and redefining tradition: discourses of urban, Syrian youth, Lindsey A. Conklin and Sandra Nasser El-Dine. Part 3 Mahrem, the Gaze, and Intimate Gender and Sexual Crossings: Identity in alterity: burqa and madrassah education in Pakistan, Saadia Abid; The daring mahrem: changing dynamics of public sexuality in Turkey, Sertaç Sehlikoglu; Sexing the hammam: gender crossings in the Ottoman bathhouse, Elyse Semerdjian. Part 4 The Desiring, Protesting Body and Muslim Authenticity in Fiction and Political Discourses: Women's writing in the land of prohibitions: a study of Alifa Rifaat and female body protest as a tool for rebellion, Miral Mahgoub Al-Tahawy; Rewriting the body in the novels of contemporary Syrian women writers, Martina Censi; The virgin trials: piety, femininity, and authenticity in Muslim brotherhood discourse, Sherine Hafez. Part 5 Re-theorizing Iranian Diaspora and ‘Islamic Feminism’ in Iran: Can the secular Iranian women’s activist speak?: caught between political power and the ‘Islamic feminist’, Leila Mouri and Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi; Queering the ‘Iranian’ and the ‘diaspora’ of the Iranian diaspora, Farhang Rouhani. Index.

About the Editor: Gul Ozyegin is Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program at the College of William and Mary. She is the author of Untidy Gender (Temple University Press, 2000) and New Desires, New Selves: Sex, Love, and Piety among Turkish Youth (New York University Press, forthcoming 2015).

Reviews: ‘This is a welcome collection on sexualities and gender ideologies in Muslim majority contexts by established and emerging scholars. It fills a scholarly gap on body-focused regulations, intimacies, masculinities, and queerness. Authors focus on the "crises" produced when everyday forms of sociality challenge dominant sexual and gender ideologies and regulatory practices. This is a fresh and teachable text.’

Frances S. Hasso, Duke University, USA

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