PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Online Program Book

Sessions
A24-112
  • Full Papers Available
Islam, Gender, Women Unit
Theme: New Directions in the Field of Islam and Gender
Justine Howe, Case Western Reserve University, Presiding
Sunday - 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Hilton Bayfront-Sapphire M (Fourth Level)

This workshop session focuses on new directions in the field of Islam and gender, organized around four pre-circulated articles and book chapters. Each table will focus on one paper and bring together the author, a facilitator, and interested readers. A broader discussion among all participants will finish the session. Attendees should choose and sign up for one of the four tables in advance and read the paper for discussion at that table prior to the session (accessible through the AAR website). Please contact Justine Howe (justine.howe@case.edu) to obtain access to the sign-up web form.

Zahra Ayubi, Dartmouth College
Martin Nguyen, Fairfield University
Prolegomenon to Feminist Philosophy of Islam

In this chapter, I identify philosophical problems that arise as a result of feminist reflection on the Ghazali-Tusi-Davani philosophical ethics tradition (akhlaq) and that warrant continued philosophical engagement. I ask how we might engage with akhlaq texts philosophically and explore answers to philosophical problems they pose. Such a philosophical engagement is fruitful because these texts address perennial human concerns about how to live, which pertain far beyond the genre of akhlaq and beyond Muslim contexts. I argue for the necessity of philosophical approaches to the study of gender in Islam and identify four central philosophical problems posed by male-centered akhlaq, which serve as a prolegomenon to feminist philosophy of Islam: 1) rationality as a standard for defining the human and human capacity, 2) the contradiction of patriarchy and khilafah, 3) essentialization of women that leads to new hierarchies, and 4) individual ethical refinement at the cost of utilization of others.

Juliane Hammer, University of North Carolina
Kayla Renée Wheeler, Grand Valley State University
Murder, Honor, and Culture: Mediatized Debates on Muslims and Domestic Violence

This chapter, from Peaceful Families: American Muslim Efforts against Domestic Violence(Princeton 2019), focuses on three subtopics that are held together by their common connection to media representations and public perception. As reflected in the title of the chapter, they are murder, honor, and culture. Murder refers to examples of the representation of the murder of/by Muslims in the press at the time of the incidents; honor explores discourses on honor killings related to Muslims; and culture probes constructions of culture between religion and race, employed in analysis of and explanations for domestic violence murders in Muslim communities. This chapters explores the connection between political goals and media production as they intersect with the lives of American Muslims and with the work of Muslim advocates against domestic violence.

Ali Altaf Mian, University of Florida
Ash Geissinger, Carleton University
Genres of Desire: The Erotic in Deobandi Islam

This article contributes to the burgeoning study of Islamicate sexualities by describing and analyzing “the erotic” in a modern South Asian Muslim community, namely the Deobandīs. In so doing I also highlight the resourcefulness of two methodological postures: (1) a trans-genre reading strategy by means of which I elaborate the performative lives of erotic desire in Deobandī texts as well as contexts and (2) a careful engagement with Michel Foucault’s biopolitical theory and Jacques Lacan’s idea of sublimation by means of which we can raise critical questions about religion and sexuality in modernity (its colonial and postcolonial variations).

Joseph Hill, University of Alberta
Ula Taylor, University of California, Berkeley
Wrapping Authority: Women Leaders in a Sufi Movement in Dakar, Senegal

Since around 2000, a growing number of women in Dakar, Senegal have come to act openly as spiritual leaders for both men and women. As urban youth turn to the Fayda Tijaniyya Sufi Islamic movement in search of direction and community, these women provide guidance in practicing Islam and cultivating mystical knowledge of God. While women Islamic leaders may appear radical in a context where women have rarely exercised Islamic authority, they have provoked surprisingly little controversy. Wrapping Authority tells these women’s stories and explores how they have developed ways of leading that feel natural to themselves and those around them. Addressing the dominant perceptions of Islam as a conservative practice, with stringent regulations for women in particular, this book eveals how women integrate values typically associated with pious Muslim women into their leadership. These female leaders present spiritual guidance as a form of nurturing motherhood; they turn acts of devotional cooking into a basis of religious authority and prestige; they connect shyness, concealing clothing, and other forms of feminine “self-wrapping” to exemplary piety, hidden knowledge, and charismatic mystique. Yet like Sufi mystical discourse, their self-presentations are profoundly ambiguous, insisting simultaneously on gender distinctions and on the transcendence of gender through mystical unity with God.

Responding:
Kathryn M. Kueny, Fordham University
Business Meeting:
Justine Howe, Case Western Reserve University
Saadia Yacoob, Williams College