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Seminar on Family, Gender and Crisis of Muslim Masculinity in Central and Southwestern Asia
Catalog Number CEUS-U 797
M. Nazif Shahrani

The objectives of this seminar are fourfold: First, to examine family and gender ideals and practices of Muslims within the broader theoretical context of family and gender studies.  Second,  to examine the impact of person-centered sovereignty-based rules of governance in ideologically driven (nationalist, Marxist, Islamist, secular modernist among others) centralizing post-colonial and post-Soviet nation-states of the twentieth century upon the traditional ideals of mardaanagi/jawaan mardlik (virtuous manliness) among the subjects of such states in Muslim southwestern and Central Asia. The impact of state failure/collapse and consequent civil/proxy wars, population displacements, international interventions, and perpetuation of conditions of subject-hood producing crisis of masculinity will be also discussed.  In addition to a discussion of the futuwatnama literature, the course will draw on ethnographic and literary data from Afghanistan, Iran, Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asian republics.  Third,  to expose students to critical research issues for the comparative study of family and gender dynamics in Muslim societies and culture of the Southwestern and Central Asia.  And finally, to explore the intellectual and practical implications of integrating anthropological and literary approaches to the analysis family and gender dynamics with a particular focus on the changing notions of masculinity in pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence countries of Central and Southwestern Asia.

The first part of the seminar will consist of readings and discussions of essential theoretical/ background materials, and will include critical evaluations of a number of case studies about Central Asia and the Middle East.  The second part will involve discussion of student project presentations. 

Required Books (some titles may vary):

Ahmed, Leila                Women and Gender in Islam.

Aitmatov, Chingis         The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years.

Bernardes, Jon             Family Studies: An Introduction.

Bodman, H.L. &  Nayereh Tohidi         Women in Muslim Societies: Diversity Within Unity.

McNay, Lois    Gender and Agency: Reconfiguring the Subject in Feminist and Social Theory.

Mir-Hosseini, Ziba        Islam and Gender:

Spellberg, D. A.           Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'Aisha Bint Abi Bakr.

Tokhtakhodjaeva, Marfu’a       Between the Slogans of Communism and the Law of Islam.

Wadud-Muhsin, Amina             Qur’an and Women

al-Sulami, ‘Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Ibn al-Husayn  The Way of the Sufi Chivalry.

Recommended Readings (some title will vary):

Aminova, R.Kh.           The Revolution and Women's Liberation in Uzbekistan.

Attwood, Lynne           The New Soviet Man and Women.

Gocek & Balaghi          Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East: Tradition, Identity and Power.

Heitlinger,                     Women and State Socialism.

Kagitcibasi, Cigdem      Sex Roles, Family and Community in Turkey.

Rugh, Andrea               Family in Contemporary Egypt.

Shorter, Edward           The Making of the Modern family.

Course Requirements:

A critical written report of the reading assignments for each week (about 2-3 double spaced typewritten pages) highlighting the most significant points (positive and negative) about the authors' approach in the text(s).  Students are also expected to actively participate in class discussions, lead at least one class discussion, make an oral presentation of the term project, and submit a term paper on the term project.  The term project will consist of a review essay consisting of: 1) critical reading, detailed assessment and synthesis of all required and at least two of the recommended readings for the seminar; and 2) serious and reasoned reflection on how the theoretical, conceptual, methodological and substantive issues covered in this seminar will (or will not) be useful to your own specific topics or fields of research interests and why.