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Berkley Center and Anthropology Program Lecture Series 2009-2010
Anthropology of Religion and Gender
Organizer: Melissa Fisher, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
This lecture series will feature well-known anthropologists of religion, gender, and feminist theory. The talks will be based on fieldwork conducted in a range of ethnographic settings including Africa, the Middle East, and the United State. The series is intended to bring together anthropological work on religion and more recent work in the discipline on gender, sexuality and feminist theory to consider the complex relationship between religion and gender in the contemporary era. Speakers will explore a range of themes that encompass these two domains, including: women’s religious and social movements; feminism in dialog with Judaism and Christianity; women, religion and education; and gender and faith investment.
Gendered Boundaries and Jewish Transformations: Some reflections on the Cultural Complexity of Jewish Feminism
TALK: April 9, 2010
TIME: 3:30-6:00PM; PLACE: Berkley Center, 3307 M Street, Suite 200
Jewish feminism has existed in many forms since the 19th century, but it took a particular turn during the late 1960s in response to the early stirrings of second wave American feminism. Its effects were more radical and far reaching within Judaism than any previous movement because it challenged fundamental assumptions about gender and Jewish law that were grounded in the western enlightenment. This paper examines the ways in which gendered boundaries have challenged efforts to create American Jewish practices since the late 19th century and why Jewish feminism(s) continues to complicate, rather than resolve, the challenge. I engage a discussion of the meaning of equality in a pluralist system in order to understand the cultural dynamics of boundaries. The paper will draw on both ethnographic studies of American Jewish women in egalitarian Jewish communities and Jewish feminist writing about equality.
Riv-Ellen Prell, an anthropologist, is Professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota where she is affiliated with the Center for Judaic Studies and the Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. Among her publications are Prayer and Community: the Havurah in American Judaism and Fighting to Become Americans: Jews, Gender, and the Anxiety of Assimilation. Her edited volumes include Women Remaking American Judaism, and Interpreting Women’s Lives: Personal Narratives and Feminist Theory. Her forthcoming book Jewish Youth, Cultural Citizenship and the Post War Period in the United States will appear in 2011.
Domestic Violence, Shari'a and Women's Rights: A comparative analysis of Muslim Societies in the Middle East, Asia and Africa
Lisa Hajjar, Associate Professor, Law and Society UCSB
TALK: February 26, 2010
TIME: 3:30-5:30PM; PLACE: CCAS Boardroom - ICC 141
This talk focuses on the issue of domestic violence in Muslim societies in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The analytical framework is comparative, emphasizing four factors and the interplay among them: shari’a (Islamic law), state power, intrafamily violence, and struggles over women’s rights. The comparative approach historicizes the problem of domestic violence and impunity to consider the impact of transnational legal discourses (Islamism and human rights) on ‘‘local’’ struggles over rights and law. The use of shari’a creates some commonalities in gender and family relations in Muslim societies, notably the sanctioning and maintenance of male authority over female relatives. However, the most important issue for understanding domestic violence and impunity is the relationship between religion and state power. This relationship takes three forms: communalization, in which religious law is separate from the national legal regime; nationalization, in which the state incorporates religious law into the national legal regime; and theocratization, in which the national legal regime is based on religious law.
Lisa Hajjar is an Associate Professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California - Santa Barbara. She holds an MA in Arab Studies with a concentration in international affairs, and a PhD in Sociology. Her publications include [please italicize book titles] Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza (University of California Press, 2005) and Human Rights: Critical Concepts in Political Science, Vols. 1-5, co-edited with Richard Falk and Hilal Elver (Routledge, 2007). Her research interests include law and conflict, human rights, humanitarianism, and cause lawyering. She is currently working on a book, tentatively titled Lawfare: The Legal Campaign To Challenge and End US Torture and Restore the Rule of Law.
Constructing Proper Faith in a Girls’ High School in Jordan
Fida Adely, Anthropologist and Assistant Professor
Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Studies
TALK: November 6, 2009
TIME: 3:00-5:30PM; PLACE: CCAS Boardroom, ICC 141
The power to interpret religious knowledge and define the terms of religious propriety is contested in many countries throughout the Muslim world today. Yet beyond analysis of curricular content, very little scholarly attention has been focused on the role of schools in such contests. This paper addresses struggles surrounding moral authority through an ethnographic exploration of religious teaching and practice in a girl’s secondary school in Jordan. I examine both the formal or official religious curriculum, as well as the unofficial religious educational efforts underway in school. I give a glimpse of the daily struggles between text, teacher and students to define proper Islamic mores for women in Jordan today. Outside the formal and intended curriculum there are a myriad of ways and spaces – in the classroom, in the prayer room, in the school yard, in the teachers’ room – within which actors in school are engaged in efforts to teach each other about religion, religious practices and living as pious Muslim women. Competing visions of Islamic orthodoxy come to the fore in schools in unique ways and schools provide a space and new tools for negotiating the ensuing tensions. Young women and their female teachers are active agents in these processes.
Fida Adely joined the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in the fall of 2007 as an Assistant Professor and as the holder of the Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Education and Anthropology from Columbia University, Teachers College and her master degree from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. Her most recent research has focused on schools, and in particular secondary schooling for girls in Jordan. This work examines the role of schools as both state institutions, and critical social spaces for young women in their struggles to define and make sense of national, religious and gendered identities in Jordan today. Her research interests also include women and development, women and work, gender and education, civic education, and development aid to the Middle East and North Africa
- There are no upcoming events scheduled at this time.