Western-made Islam, a required state of ignorance, global violence against women
Tsunami of lies flooding context washes out road to clear understanding
Except, minor edit by Carolyn Bennett
From an essay by the author of The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan
Dr. Saadia Toor, Associate Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work
“Globalization—defined as the increasing interconnectedness of different parts of the world at economic, political, and cultural levels—has intensified the dynamics of social change across the developing or postcolonial world.
“Such rapid and intense social change produces anxieties in the societies and communities experiencing this change, anxieties which feminist scholars have shown to result in greater regulation of women. This was just as true of Europe during the period of capitalist modernization in the 18th and 19th centuries as it was of colonized and decolonizing societies in the mid-20th century.…
Historical context (in brief)
“The British politicized religion during the course of their rule in the subcontinent [India/Pakistan], and religious discourse and identity became a crucial part of the anti-colonial struggle.
“During the Cold War, the United States found it expedient to use religious ideology to counter ‘God-less’ communism across the globe and followed a conscious strategy of funding and otherwise supporting the most virulent forms of political Islam across the Muslim world ….
“Although the well-read American may today make the connection to the proxy war with the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and 1980s when the United States and the Pakistani army created the mujahideen and consciously bolstered their ideology of jihad, this relationship actually went much further back, to the 1950s and 60s when the U.S. began to support the neo-fascist Jama’at-i-Islami of Abu Ala Maududi, which was geared towards producing Cold War propaganda about Godless communism. The JI, not surprisingly, grew significantly as an organization in this period, going from being marginal in national politics to being a serious political player under the martial law regime of General Ayub Khan (another American-supported dictator) in the 1960s. …
In a society defined by a history of disenfranchisement of the people by dictatorial regimes (with support of the United States), and under siege from joint pressures of a corrupt ruling class, a heavy debt burden, predatory and conspicuous consumption, and ongoing (neo-)colonial intervention, cultural identity becomes a contentious issue and — as is invariably the case regardless of the kind of state/society under question — women’s bodies become sites for these cultural politics and the class struggles they embody.
The regulation of women and their sexuality becomes the key hegemonic move through which consent across social classes can be secured.…
“Issues related to women and gender in contemporary Muslim societies must be understood within the same framework.…
No shortcut to clear understanding
“… There is no shortcut, no way around historically and socially contextual analysis that is simultaneously also implicitly or explicitly comparative—and that, too, not simply across ‘Muslim societies.’ There is need for analysis that begins with empirical reality and moves out towards generalization but a generalization that is not predetermined by a priori [presumptive] categories such as ‘Muslim nations’ and ‘Muslims societies.’
“This means acknowledging that — far from ‘unveiling’ the insidious workings of an actually-existing ‘thing’ called ‘Islam’ — current Western discourse actually actively constructs it and does so in order to legitimize certain political projects. This is a discourse that is deeply ideological.”
Sources and notes
“Gender, Sexuality, and Islam under the Shadow of Empire” (Saadia Toor), The Scholar and Feminist (S&F) Online, Issue 9.3: Summer 2011: Religion and the Body, published by The Barnard Center for Research on Women, www.barnard.edu/sfonline, http://barnard.edu/sfonline/religion/print_toor.htm
Dr. Saadia Toor is Associate Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work at the College of Staten Island. Her scholarship centers on issues of culture, nationalism, gender/sexuality, state formation, and international political economy.
In addition to her latest book The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan, she is author of Child Labor in Pakistan’s Export Industries. Forthcoming in Child Labor World
Atlas: a Reference Encyclopedia, edited by Hugh Hindman. Published by M. E. Sharpe.
“Moral Regulation in a Postcolonial Nation-State: Gender and the Politics of Islamization in Pakistan”. Special issue of Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, vol.9, issue 2 (July 2007), pp 255 – 275.
“A National Culture for Pakistan: The Political Economy of a Debate”. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. v. 6, n. 3 (2005), pp. 318-340.
“Engendering Violence: Boundaries, Histories, and the Everyday”, introductory essay for special issue of Cultural Dynamics with S. Banerjee, A. Chatterji, L. Chaudhry, M. Desai and K. Visweswaran. Cultural Dynamics v.16 n 2-3, 2004. pp. 125-139. http://www.csi.cuny.edu/faculty/TOOR_SAADIA.html
Also: Dr. Saadia Toor appeared in the April 7, 2012, edition of Behind the News with Doug Henwood — a terrific interview.
AlterNet, Pakistani women march during a rally on violence against women in Lahore in 2010,
Domestic violence afflicts women all over the world.
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Labels: global violence against women, Islam and the West, Saadia Toor, western propaganda and violence against women