Female "Circumcision" in Africa: Culture, Controversy, and Change (Directions in Applied Anthropology)

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Discourses on women's and international human rights recast the traditional practice of female circumcision as the human rights violation of female genital mutilation. Following a table summarizing its prevalence, contributors to 14 essays join the debate over this African Muslim custom. The title "Cutting without ritual and ritual without cutting" encapsulates the overall tone, but responses from Sudanese feminists are also included. Shell-Duncan teaches anthropology at the U. of Washington, where Hernlund is a doctoral candidate in that field. The other scholars come from North America, Nigeria, Kenya, Australia, and the UK. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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About the Author:

Bettina Shell-Duncan is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Washington. Ylva Hernlund is research associate at the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology (CSDE) at the University of Washington.

From Library Journal:

In their excellent introduction to this collection of essays, the editors (an assistant professor and a graduate student, both from the University of Washington's anthropology department) write that "female 'circumcision' has emerged as a test case for cultural relativism as scholars struggle with how to approach the issue intellectually, emotionally, and morally." Thirteen subsequent chapters present a variety of viewpoints, sometimes conflicting with and sometimes repeating one another, but all honestly tackling the issues just mentioned without relying heavily on rhetoric or ideology. Some contributions are ethnological, others use a survey/applied research approach, and still others are mainly theoretical. As a whole, the volume succeeds in deflating many widely held assumptions about female "circumcision" (consistently put in quotation marks, to the point of annoyance) and in raising important questions about these widespread and highly contested practices. Students, scholars, policymakers, and rights advocates will learn a great deal from this provocative and timely book. Recommended for academic collections in anthropology, African and black studies, women's studies, and human rights.DJay H. Bernstein, Fordham Univ. Lib., Bronx, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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