Lila Abu-Lughod

Lila Abu-Lughod is the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University in New York.  She teaches Anthropology and Women’s Studies and directs the Center for the Study of Social Difference. Her scholarship, strongly ethnographic and mostly based on research in Egypt, has focused on three broad issues: the relationship between cultural forms and power; the politics of knowledge and representation; and the question of women’s rights in the Middle East. Among her award-winning books are Veiled SentimentsWriting Women’s WorldsRemaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East; and Dramas of Nationhood. A member of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia, she has co-edited with Ahmad H. Sa’di: Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory and recently published an essay in Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and HomeMore information


Authorizing the New Moral Crusade to Save Muslim Women

What lies behind the new American common-sense that we should go to war for global women’s rights?   We must look at Orientalism’s twenty-first century forms. I argue that two industries that we rarely think of together are authorizing the current moral crusade to save Muslim women: the international human rights regime and mass-market publishing, which has brought us a sordid genre of (pornographic) pulp “non”fiction about Muslim women’s bondage and oppression. Drawing on experiences in ruralEgyptand urging us to think carefully about human life, I offer alternative ways to think about the key terms of this crusade—choice versus force, freedom versus bondage. 



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