Week 6: Saba Mahnood

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Week 6: Saba Mahnood

Post by Yael on Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:54 pm

What are the presumptions of the feminist movement which Mahmood seeks to challenge?

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Re: Week 6: Saba Mahnood

Post by Music on Sun May 06, 2018 11:44 pm

In 'Politics of Piety', Saba Mahmood proses criticism to the mainstream feminist theory and praxis. In the entrance of the chapter "The Subject of Freedom", she asks: "how should issues of historical and cultural specificity inform both the analytics and the politics of any feminist project?" Feminism, like any human theory or enterprise is flawed; Saba Mahmood distinguishably bring out the imperfections of feminist theory. "Questions of religious difference have remained relatively unexplored" says Mahmood, portraying one and major issue regarding feminist theory.

After secularism emancipated the West from religious hegemony, it morphed into a new and analogous type of hegemony - to paraphrase the argument of Gil Anidjar in his book 'Secularism' . Mahmood uses different examples from muslim experiences and case studies to show how secularism acted as a new tool of hegemony and in turn backfired onto feminism - especially onto marginalised people. In the words of Angela Davis, mainstream feminism is bourgeois feminism, and only feasible for whoever is in power.

Moreover, in this book Mahmood explores some of the conceptual challenges that women's involvement in the Islamist movement poses to feminist theory in particular and to secular-liberal though in general". Religion - Islam in this case - fills the economic void that people have. This is particularly evident amongst the myriad poor people who were engulfed into Islam - what Mahmood terms as Islamic Revival - in Egypt after the 1970s, since the mosque was the only provider of basic human necessities, like food, water, and safety.

Furthermore, in her book, she "analyses the conceptions of self, moral agency, and politics that undergird the practices of this non liberal movement". Agency - human or female - is another main subject she deals with in this section. She proposes alternative ways of thinking about agency. "Agency... is understood as the capacity to realise one's own interests against the weight of custom, tradition, transcendental will, or other obstacles (whether individual or collective). Thus the humanist desire for autonomy and self-expression constitutes the substrate the slumbering ember that can spark to flame in the form of an act of resistance when conditions permit" she writes eloquently highlighting the close link between agency and resistance.

Regarding another example where a group of Beduin women are resisting male domination, through resistant actions, Mahmood asks: "how might we recognise instances of women's resistance without 'misattributing to them forms of consciousness or politics that are not part of their experience"? The question is important because it challenges the globalised ideas we live by. The Beduin women mentioned most probably have not ever heard of feminism, and most probably the theories within it means nothing to them. So how can one recognise them and their efforts?

Although I find what I understood from her ideas profound, I found the writing of Saba Mahmood rather difficult. It was hard for me to comprehend, digest and dissect the text. To me the sentences seemed misplaced and so the piece lacked a smooth flow.


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Re: Week 6: Saba Mahnood

Post by altair3feb on Mon May 07, 2018 11:16 am

What seemed to be the main contention Saba Mahmood held towards feminist and liberalist movements that diagnosed the Muslim female as submissive and bound by patriarchal norms, was that their arguments were reductionist. This means that they didn't entirely allow the richness and collected experience of these women's respective lives and cultures to speak for themselves. She argues that western thought in this case is interfering, and that it is almost imposing its secularly bred ideals on Muslim women.

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Re: Week 6: Saba Mahnood

Post by 7ajje94 on Mon May 07, 2018 11:54 am

Basically, the subject of freedom is exploring muslim‘s women potential and disputing that there are negative reactions toward Islam, and if Islamic feminists could be freed from traditions and the society they live in, they would get rid of their beliefs. Later on, she expressed that freedom should not be based on ontological principles but practical logics.
Saba Mahmoud is putting an important question about the attitude of western feminists toward the non-liberal discussion, and wondering if the scholars are presenting the movements such as ´women‘s mosque movement‘ can be translated and explained to the western societies.
In her point of view, solving or discussing a critique is more powerful by engaging another world opinion.

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Re: Week 6: Saba Mahnood

Post by last second 3pointer on Mon May 07, 2018 11:55 am

In the text of Mahmood, there are some hints of why secularism in Islam did not work in Egypt, but made the country more religious in the end. I believe that it is not only because of the subconcious rebel actions towards western world and marginalisation, but mainly because of Islam's special structure. Islam, was created in the way of creating a country and constitution, rather than a religion which says what one should do. The laws of sharia are written as if it is a constitution of a state. Therefore, the effect of Islam in real life is much more than other religion. One can not live in a two different state at the same time. But unfortunately this is what happens when a muslim believer lives in a secular state. Muslim must live under the constitution of the country but at the same time live under the constitution of Islam. Because these two constitutions almost always conflicts with each other, in the end of course every muslim tries to and will try to fight with secularism and bring back their one and only way of living, which always has much greater effect in their every day life than liberal states, Islam.

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Re: Week 6: Saba Mahnood

Post by TA on Mon May 07, 2018 12:18 pm

Saba Mahmud wants to challenge the presumptions of the feminists movements that basically say that it is impossible to be a feminist and a muslim or to be a feminist and support islamic movements.

"Women participation in... the Islamist movement provokes strong responses from feminists across a broad range of political spectrum.... that women islamist supporters are pawns in a grand patriarchal plan"
She then face some questions to this assumption: "yet, one may ask, is such assumption valid? what is the history by which we have come to assume its truth? More importantly, if we discard such an assumption, what other analytical tools might be available to ask a different set of questions about women's participation in the Islamist movement ?"

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