New Books in Gender Studies

masculinitiesThe Crisis of Islamic Masculinities

Amanullah De Sondy

(Bloomsbury Academic; 248 pages; Jan. 2014).

In order to evaluate whether there really is only one valid, ideal Islamic masculinity, The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities explores key figures of the Qur’an and Indian-Pakistani Islamic history, and exposes the precariousness of tight constraints on Islamic manhood. By examining Qur’anic arguments and the strict social responsibilities advocated along with narrow Islamic masculinities, De Sondy shows that God and women often act as foils for the construction of masculinity. Audio interview with the author

Conceiving Identities: Maternity in Medieval Muslim Discourse and Practice by Kathryn M. Kueny (SUNY Press; 404 pages; $95; Nov. 2013). This book explores how medieval Muslim theologians appropriate a woman’s reproductive power to construct a female gender identity in which maternity is a central component.

Do Muslim Women Need Saving? by Lila Abu-Lughod Muslim women(Harvard University Press; 336 pages; Nov. 2013). An anthropologist who has been writing about Arab women for thirty years, Abu-Lughod delves into the predicaments of Muslim women today, questioning whether generalizations about Islamic culture can explain the hardships these women face and asking what motivates particular individuals and institutions to promote their rights.

Watch a video interview with the author, by Harvard University Press.

Feminist Edges of the Qur’an by Aysha A. Hidayafeminist qurantullah (Oxford University Press; 259 pages; June 2014). Focuses on Amina Wadud, Kecia Li, and Asma Barlas in a critique of feminist exegetical writings on the Muslim holy book; argues that many such interpretations are not supported by the text.

Gender and Islam in Southeast Asia: Women’s rights movements, religious resurgence, and local traditions edited by Susanne Schröter (Brill; 336 pages; June 2013). The authors trace the impact of national development programs, modernization, globalization, and political conflicts on the local and national gender regimes in the 20th century, and elaborate on the consequences of the revitalization of a conservative Islam.

Islamic Feminism in Kuwait: The Politics and Paradoxes by Alessandra L. González (Palgrave, 2013; 264 pages). This book highlights the voices of cultural elites in the oil-rich State of Kuwait, where a modern suffrage movement has resulted in a new brand of feminism, one born out of a traditional and culturally conservative climate, which gives Islamic Feminists in Kuwait the edge they need to soar to new heights.

Professing Selves: Transexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran by Afsaneh Najmabadi (Duke; 450 pages; Dec. 2013) Najmabadi argues that the collaboration among medical authorities, specialized clerics, and state officials—which made transsexuality a legally tolerated, if not exactly celebrated, category of being—grew out of Iran’s particular experience of Islamicized modernity.

women in the cityWomen and the City, Women in the City: A Gendered Perspective on Ottoman Urban History edited by Nazan Maksudyan (Berghahn Books; 195 pages; Sept 2014). Essays on such topics as anti-veiling campaigns in early republican Turkey, and the women’s festival of Al-Qays in Jeddah in what is now Saudi Arabia.

Women, Gender, and the Palace Households in Ottoman Tunisia by Amwomen ottoman tunisiay Aisen Kallander (University of Texas Press; 287 pages; $55). Documents the political influence of women linked to the ruling family in 18th- and 19th-century Tunisia.


Women in Classical Islamic Law: A Survey of the Sources by Susan A. Spectorsky (Brill; 223 pages; $67). Drawing on legal and ḥadīth texts from the formative and classical periods of Islamic legal history, this book offers an overview of the development of the questions prominent jurists asked and answered about women’s issues.

Women, Iuzbekistanslam, and Identity: Public Life in Private Spaces in Uzbekistan by Svetlana Peshkova (Syracuse University Press; 2014). Peshkova draws upon several years of field research to chronicle the daily lives of women religious leaders, known as otinchalar, and the ways in which they exert a powerful influence in the religious life of the community.

womeninthemosqueWomen in the Mosque by Marion Holmes Katz (Columbia University; 432 pages; Sept. 2014). Juxtaposes Muslim scholars’ debates over women’s attendance in mosques with historical descriptions of women’s activities within Middle Eastern and North African mosques.

Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam by Dawn-Marie Gibson and Jamillah Karim (New York University Press; 288 pages; July 2014). Draws on oral histories and interviews with approximately 100 women across several cities to provide an overview of women’s historical contributions and their varied experiences of the Nation of Islam.

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