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In Honor of Fadime: Murder and Shame Hardcover – May 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Unni Wikan puts tough questions to herself and to her readers in this spellbinding, astonishing and courageous account of her personal journey across moral universes. In Honor of Fadime is far more than a eulogy—it is the best case study ever written about the way liberal and illiberal moral communities misunderstand and react to each other in Northern Europe. If murder is defined as a wrongful killing, is an honor killing murder? What precisely makes an honor killing wrong if it is an act of collective defense and a last resort to protect a family from humiliating and socially consequential harms inflicted on it by one of its members? This brilliant book takes us far beyond the ‘banality of evil’ as we arrive at an eye-opening (even if troubling) comprehension of how a morally decent husband and wife come to feel they have no choice but to kill their daughter.”--Richard A. Shweder, University of Chicago

(Richard A. Shweder 2008-01-17)

“[Wikan] plunges the reader into a truly surreal, nightmare world. . . . This is a controlled but harrowing condemnation of an utter anachronism.”

(The Age (Australia) 2008-04-18)

"Anna Paterson's idiomatic translation of the voices Wikan excerpts . . . and her own ethnographic observations convey the urgency of both the events and the troubling questions raised by Fadime's life and death."
(Choice)

"'The problem is over now,' Fadime's father said after her death. To which one answer is to place such crimes, as Wikan does, under the prism of multiple, shifting, conflicting points of view, to tell the same story over and over again. In her book, everyone's version, including the father's, is told in full."
(Jacqueline Rose London Review of Books)

About the Author

Unni Wikan is professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, Norway, and is the author of nine books. Her most recent work in English is Generous Betrayal: Politics of Culture in the New Europe, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Anna Paterson is the author of Scotland’s Landscape: Endangered Icon.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 314 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Revised and Extended, Partly Rewritten Version edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226896862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226896861
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Noname TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is very easy to label honor killings as a barbaric custom from backwards countries done by the ignorant, but that does nothing to help in understanding why they occur. Unni Wikan presents honor killings as an academic subject from the perspective of a European, namely countries like Sweden and Norway. The first third of the book explores the meaning of honor as it pertains to the cultures which practice honor killings and how it differs from the Western definition.

The story of Fadime, an Kurdish girl who falls in love with a Swede and refuses to marry her cousin, is studied as an example of an honor killing in the West; and reasons are presented for why it was done other than the obvious. The book, however, is not a biography of Fadime. Her story is central, but others are are also discussed, broken up into bits and mixed all together so there is not one story flowing seamlessly throughout. If you are looking for a straight biography, this is not the right book for you.

The author takes great care to emphasize it is not one religion nor one country or culture that practices honor killing, but it is easy to conclude which countries to which the subject of honor killings is a foreign concept so difficult to understand that threats of honor killing are not taken seriously. Conversely, there are parts of the world to which such ideas are well understood.

The rules of honor killings, the ties to religion and culture, what alternatives are available and how they are done are discussed. I finished the book more enlightened than when I started. It would make good reading for discussion in a classroom setting.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. C. Salzman on October 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with the previous reviewer, who said "It would make good reading for discussion in a classroom setting." I am planning to assign it to the students in my Middle Eastern Society and Culture course next fall.

Wikan's critique of attributing honor killings to culture(s) is due to her opposition to government agencies giving rights to collectivities rather than to individuals, as the law specifies. She doesn't want "culture" to be given practical, political power. But, as a result, she gives up the intellectual, explanatory power of culture. Instead, she attributes honor killings to "tribal society," a more imprecise explanation than culture.
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By Miss Lark on April 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book compliments Murder in the Name of Honor nicely. It details the regional murders of women by family members and explores the concepts of shame and honor. Highly recommend for all women of all ages, religions, races, nationalities, and ethnicities.
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