Though the issue of female genital cutting, or circumcision, has become a nexus for debates on cultural relativism, human rights, patriarchal oppression, racism, and Western imperialism, the literature has been separated by diverse fields of study. In contrast, this volume brings together contributors from anthropology, public health, political science, demography, history, and epidemiology to critically examine current debates and initiatives, and to explore the role that scholars can and should or should not play in approaching the issue.
Case studies from nine African countries where female genital cutting (FGC) is traditionally and currently performed evaluate the impact of international efforts to eliminate the practice. A focus on local reactions to external involvement underscores that the myriad programs fashioned to effect changes in FGC ritual and procedure must be initiated and supported by indigenous communities if they are to be lasting and effective.
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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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