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The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective

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The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

To the Western eye, there is something jarringly incongruous, even shocking, about the image of a six-year-old girl being held down by loving relatives so that her genitals can be cut. Yet two million girls experience this each year. Most Westerners, upon learning of the practice of female circumcision, have responded with outrage; those committed to improving the status of women have gone beyond outrage to action by creating various programs for eradicating the practice. But few understand the real life complexities families face in deciding whether to follow the traditional practices or to take the risk of change.In The Female Circumcision Controversy, Ellen Gruenbaum points out that Western outrage and Western efforts to stop genital mutilation often provoke a strong backlash from people in the countries where the practice is common. She looks at the validity of Western arguments against the practice. In doing so, she explores both outsider and insider perspectives on female circumcision, concentrating particularly on the complex attitudes of the individuals and groups who practice it and on indigenous efforts to end it. Gruenbaum finds that the criticisms of outsiders are frequently simplistic and fail to appreciate the diversity of cultural contexts, the complex meanings, and the conflicting responses to change.Drawing on over five years of fieldwork in Sudan, where the most severe forms of genital surgery are common, Gruenbaum shows that the practices of female circumcision are deeply embedded in Sudanese cultural traditions--in religious, moral, and aesthetic values, and in ideas about class, ethnicity, and gender. Her research illuminates both the resistance to and the acceptance of change. She shows that change is occurring as the result of economic and social developments, the influences of Islamic activists, the work of Sudanese health educators, and the efforts of educated African women. That does not mean that there is no role for outsiders, Gruenbaum asserts, and she offers suggestions for those who wish to help facilitate change.By presenting specific cultural contexts and human experiences with a deep knowledge of the tremendous variation of the practice and meaning of female circumcision, Gruenbaum provides an insightful analysis of the process of changing this complex, highly debated practice.

Book News Annotation:

After five years of fieldwork in Sudan, where the most severe forms of genital surgery are common, Gruenbaum (anthropology, California State U.-Fresno) argues that western outrage and criticism of the practice are frequently simplistic and fail to appreciate the diversity of cultural contexts, the complex meanings, and the conflicting responses to change. Efforts to suppress it without understanding it, she argues, can create a strong backlash.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Informed by five years of fieldwork in Sudan, the author studies indigenous and "outsider" perspectives on the traditional practice of female genital cutting.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780812217469
Author:
Gruenbaum, Ellen
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press
Location:
Philadelphia
Subject:
Women's Studies
Subject:
Anthropology
Subject:
Customs & Traditions
Subject:
Female circumcision
Subject:
Women's Studies - General
Subject:
Anthropology - General
Copyright:
Series Volume:
104-493
Publication Date:
20001231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.06x6.14x.68 in. .84 lbs.

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Anthropology » General
History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » World Feminism
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics
History and Social Science » Sociology » General

The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective Used Trade Paper
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Product details 256 pages Johns Hopkins University Press - English 9780812217469 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Informed by five years of fieldwork in Sudan, the author studies indigenous and "outsider" perspectives on the traditional practice of female genital cutting.
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