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The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective (review)

Harvard Human Rights Journal. August 2001;23(3):832-836.
 
The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective (review)
 
Carpenter RC
 
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:R. Charli Carpenter – The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective (review) – Human Rights Quarterly 23:3 Human Rights Quarterly 23.3 (2001) 832-836 Book Review The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective, by Ellen Gruenbaum (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 2001). The followers of mutilation are good people who love their children; any campaign that insinuates otherwise is doomed to provoke defensive reaction. –Gerry Mackie, (1996:1015) The quotation, which heads the seventh chapter of Gruenbaum’s book, summarizes the normative thrust of her analysis. It is precisely the inability of Westerners to reconcile our definition of “people who love their children” with the image of adults holding down small girls and cutting their genitals, which paralyzes Western-led reform efforts. Gruenbaum highlights and critiques this incongruity in her study of “real-life complexities” regarding what she carefully terms “female circumcision.” Her aim is to provide a depiction of the socioeconomic institutions perpetuating female circumcision, which she claims are all too often lost or obscured in the self-righteous rhetoric of the anti-FGM movement. She accomplishes this through a combination of historiography and in-depth case study; and by negotiating a middle-ground between her Western feminism and her anthropologist’s cultural…

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