Created by God: How Somalis in Swedish Exile Reassess the Practice of Female Circumcision

Created by God: How Somalis in Swedish Exile Reassess the Practice of Female Circumcision

Johnsdotter, Sara

2002, Doctoral dissertation, Department of Social Anthropology, Lund University, Sweden

‘Created by God’ presents the views of Swedish Somalis on female circumcision and contrasts it to the Swedish public discourse on the issue. Despite the lack of documented illegal cases of female circumcision in Sweden, it is constantly claimed in the public discourse that female circumcision (female genital mutilation) is a practice upheld by the Somali exile group in Sweden. Based on an analysis of the internal debate on female circumcision among Swedish Somalis, it is argued that this is a practice negotiated and reassessed by Somalis in Sweden. While some traditional values are maintained, even when in conflict with mainstream mentality of the Swedish society, other values and attitudes are debated and abandoned. Among the Somalis in this study, reassessment of the religious imperative in relation to female circumcision has played a crucial role. The study highlights the importance of a processual theory of cultural practices, in contrast to the prevalent essentialist perspective. It is further argued that the prevalent discrepancy between the discourses – the discussion among Swedish Somalis and the public discussion in Sweden – is an obstacle in the process toward a complete abandonment of the practice of female circumcision in the Somali community in Sweden.

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