About this module:
The expression ‘Islamic feminism’ has many meanings: it might be a transnational social movement and it is also a multitude of national movements, it ventures into religious discourse and it is an academic endeavour – needless to say that ‚Islamic feminism‘ is a contested field. The root of the polysemy of ‘Islamic feminism’ resides in the dose of religion that one would include in the instrumentalization of the term by feminists. For ‚hard‘ secular feminist activists the expression is an oxymoron as ‘Islam’ and ‘feminism’ should be kept apart, and for other, more ‘lenient’ feminists, academics in the majority of cases, the expression is a reflection of reality where Islam is part and parcel of politics and the makeup of society. Ironically, the term ‘feminism’ raises tension among conservatives mainly because of its ’Western’ connotation, and the term ‘Islamic feminism’ is often totally rejected by secular feminists, who consider it a response to Western feminism.
While providing an introduction into the more general dimensions of Islamic feminism, the materials offered focus on contextualizing it in the Moroccan case, where a hybrid of conservatism and modernism has been co-existing since the independence of the country in 1956. In the last decades of the twentieth century, this hybrid developed into secularism and Islamism in the public sphere, especially politics, but remained seated in the private sphere. For secular feminists in Morocco Islamic feminism emerged as a counter reaction to their own strong mobilization around the reform of the Family Code, and the state’s and society’ recognition of violence against women. Secular feminists claim ownership and legitimacy as the real instigators of the Moudawana reform and see Islamic feminism as ‘State Islamic feminism’ that attempts to reconcile both views. This state of affairs is complicated further by the emergence of ‘feminist’ voices from within Islamist parties and Islamist associations.
This course is grounded in the assumption that in theory, the core endeavor of Islamic feminism is to install equality in Muslim family laws (in Morocco, the only laws still based on Islamic jurisprudence), as well as the demands of women’s rights associations, individuals’ endeavors, and the will of the king as the highest political and religious authority. I underline the homegrown character of this feminism in understanding the 2004 reforms which, among other things, fixed the marriage age at 18, institutionalized the equal responsibility of both spouses for the family, guaranteed women’s right to divorce.
Multi-, Inter-, Trans-: On Culture Nation, State by Lydia Potts
• What do you think, will this module be a comparative analysis of Germany/Europe, South Africa, and India/South Asia?
• Can you think of some examples of contemporary transculturality on a macro or micro level?
Gender, Nation, State (Sauer) by Lydia Potts
Colonialism and Postcolonial Theory by Lydia Potts
Group Forum Discussion Topics:
Please read one of the texts linked below and discuss it in a group. Based on your discussion, please answer the following questions in the Forum. You may divide the tasks in your group and/or you edit the answers jointly.
a) Please summarize the main arguments of the text.
b) Which theorists of post colonialism are mentioned in the text?
c) Which questions and/or comments do you have?