Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?

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Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others Author(s): Lila Abu-Lughod Reviewed work(s): Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 104, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 783-790 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 18/01/2012 15:55 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information…show more content…
I want to point out the minefields-a metaphor that is sadly too apt for a country like Afghanistan, with the world's highest number of mines per capita-of this obsession with the plight of Muslim women. I hope to show some way through them using insights from anthropology,the disciplinewhose charge has been to understand and manage cultural difference. At the same time, I want to remain critical of anthropology's complicity in the reificationof culturaldifference. CULTURAL EXPLANATIONS AND THEMOBILIZATION OFWOMEN It is easier to see why one should be skeptical about the focus on the "Muslim woman" if one begins with the U.S. AMERICANANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION COPYRIGHT? 2002, 784 American Anthropologist * Vol. 104, No. 3 * September 2002 ism" in a way they were not in other conflicts?LauraBush's radio address on November 17 reveals the political work such mobilization accomplishes. On the one hand, her address collapsed important distinctions that should have been maintained. There was a constant slippage between the Taliban and the terrorists, so that they became almost one word-a kind of hyphenated monster identity: the Taliban-and-the-terrorists.Then there was the blurring of the very separate causes in Afghanistan of women's continuing malnutrition, poverty, and ill health, and
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