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Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject 0th Edition

4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691086958
ISBN-10: 0691086958
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Editorial Reviews

Review


Winner of the 2005 Victoria Schuck Award, American Political Science Association



Honorable Mention for the 2005 Albert Hourani Book Award, Middle East Studies Association


"Mahmood's book is a tour de force that provides an alternative prism through which we may understand the women's mosque movement in Egypt."--Cynthia Nelson,Middle East Journal



"The book is of great importance regarding the position of women within the Muslim piety movement in Egypt. It is of interest for those dealing with Islamic revival and women issues not only in Egypt or the Middle East and North Africa but also to those dealing with the role of religion in life and gender issues worldwide."--Rachel Simon, Ph.D., Digest of Middle East Studies

From the Back Cover


"This very timely book opens doors into spaces of Islamic piety that shatter the stereotypes which dominate thinking in the West. Mahmood carefully unpacks the distortions that common modes of liberalism and feminism impose on the Muslim world. She combines richness of description with theoretical sophistication to provide insight into the struggle of some Muslim women to live their faith, often in the face of not only Western liberal influences but also Arab nationalism and political Islamism. The reader is forced to face dilemmas that cannot be easily resolved. This is social science at its most illuminating."--Charles Taylor, Board of Trustees Professor of Law and Philosophy, Northwestern University, author of Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity


"This brilliant study of women in the contemporary mosque movement in Egypt is a provocative challenge to secular feminists and a testament to what anthropology can still offer--through its insistence on serious listening to other worlds--to critical social theory. No feminist theorist or anthropologist of modernity will be able to think the same way about liberalism, agency, or religion after reading this book. I hope that Mahmood's incisive analysis of the Islamic movement will also finally put an end to the banalities that currently masquerade as knowledge about this meaningful social movement."--Lila Abu-Lughod, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, author of Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society


"My enthusiasm for this brave and stunning book is unqualified, and I learned something on every page. Politics of Piety will reorient the way in which cultural theorists regard religious practice and the account of moral agency. It will be of widespread interest not only to anthropologists of various persuasions but also to scholars of Middle East studies, to moral philosophers, to religious studies scholars and lay readers, and to theorists of embodiment across the disciplines."--Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, author of Bodies That Matter


"Mahmood's keenly anticipated and very brave book is a brilliant contribution to the theoretical project for the anthropological study of Islam and to our understanding of Islam in the Middle East, especially as it is practiced by women. There is no question that it is highly significant for all kinds of reasons. The kind of data that the author presents is fresh and relatively unknown in the literature."--Steve Caton, Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies and Social Anthropology, Harvard University, author of Peaks of Yemen I Summon


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691086958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691086958
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Radical feminists, of the post-structuralist or deconstructionist blend, have accustomed us to put into question notions that have long been a constitutive part of the liberal/progressive agenda and to critically reexamine well-established categories such as gender, class or race. It should therefore come as no surprise if Saba Mahmood, an anthropologist trained in the intellectual hotbed of UC Berkeley, provides a description of the Muslim world that goes against the grain of conventional wisdom and shatters many certainties held dear by feminists and liberals alike.

Mahmood's Politics of Piety is an ethnographic account of the Islamic revival in Egypt, viewed from the perspective of women of different walks of life who regularly attend religious lessons delivered by female preachers in mosques of Cairo. Teachings focus on the study of Islamic scriptures, but also address the social norms, personal orientations and bodily comportments deemed necessary to cultivate a pious and virtuous life.

This is the first time in Egyptian history that such a large number of women have mobilized to hold public meetings in mosques to teach each other Islamic doctrine, thereby altering the historically male-centered character of mosques as well as Islamic pedagogy. On the other hand, the women's mosque movement emphasizes conducts and virtues that are traditionally associated with feminine passivity and submissiveness, such as shyness, modesty, perseverance and humility (although these virtues have to be interpreted in an Islamic context).
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I used this book in my Muslim Societies class last semester as one of three books I wrote a paper on. The book goes into much details about the specifics of Muslim piety and the role it plays on women. This can be a slow read because there are a lot of unfamiliar terms, but Mahmood will define them and explain them in context to her thesis. I highly suggest this book because it will give you an alternate view of Muslim Egyptian women.
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Although Mahmoud makes fine arguments about Muslim women and she questions the inevitability/desirability of secularism for all peoples, her pure pleasure in wielding theory outweighs "the stuff" of the book. This reader came away wondering who, other than the author, actually inhabits the book. Certainly there were memorable women whose stories were edited out in favor of discussions about western theoreticians. Mahmood's audience cannot include students; they are mystified. This is a shame because perhaps there is no subject that begs more for good, clear writing by scholars than works about Muslim women.
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Mahmood has a pleasant, easy-going style, which makes for good reading. She makes every effort in her ethnographic work to put herself into the place of the women of the mosque movement. She seems to look at the situation from the presupposition that people are purely products of their circumstances, which precludes much in the way of personal choice. I prefer to believe we do have choice. While I respect the choice these women have made, I think it would be a mistatke to assume that there's no coersion or oppression in their lives. That is, it's fine to accept the choices people make, but oppression is still oppression. Yes, let's see things as much as we are able from the subject's point of view, but lets not pretend oppression and subjugation aren't still oppression and sujugation.
2 Comments 15 of 58 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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The book is in very good condition (just like new) and it reached me within two weeks,just as amazon promised. I am quite satisfied with your service.
1 Comment 1 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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