Lila Abu-Lughod’s “Do Muslim Women Need Saving” Reviewed in “Ethnicities” Journal
The journal Ethnicities recently ran a review symposium of Do Muslim Women Need Saving?—the book by Lila Abu-Lughod, Professor of Social Science at Columbia University and Project Director of CSSD’s working group on Gender, Religion and Law in Muslim Societies.
Deniz Kandiyoti, SOAS, University of London, found the book a “refreshingly accessible, jargon free text” and said “(I)t presents a comprehensive indictment of global Western actors’ commonly held normative assumptions about the role of Islam in oppressing women in Muslim majority countries.” Kandiyoti found that Abu-Lughod successfully uses interviews with women from Egyptian villages whose complex realities are influenced by a multitude of factors beyond religion. According to Kandiyoti, the book “does a thorough and masterful job of taking on centres of power and privilege that propagate simplistic and disabling representations of Muslim women’s lives.”
Maleiha Malik, Kings College, University of London, wrote that “Abu-Lughod’s analysis is important because she relates her analysis to the wider institutional framework of international feminism, human rights and NGOs that produce institutions for ‘saving Muslim women’.” In doing so, the book also “moves academic and public debates beyond de-construction towards a normative constructive analysis of the category ‘Muslim women,’” according to Malik.
Schirin Amir-Moazami, Free University, Berlin called Abu-Lughod’s book a timely critique of Western attempts at “saving Muslim women” as it “dismantles, on various levels, the discursive production and structures of these (current) rescue narratives in a thought provoking and accessible way.” She also called it an “extremely inspiring exercise in starting to ask different kinds of questions than those at hand.”