The Place of Feminism in Religious Revival: Islam, Feminist Groups, and Changing Public Policy in Morocco
Author(s)Hughes, Courtney L.
Social and Cultural Anthropology
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AbstractHow does feminism contribute to religious revival? How does feminism impact the ways that religion is interpreted? How do the goals of self-proclaimed religious feminists compare to those who claim to be secular? This presentation will offer insight into the relationship between feminism and religious revival through evidence from contemporary Morocco. The country provides an excellent space in which to answer these questions as it has been hailed as a leader in the region in women’s rights, but recently as political Islam is on the rise and Wahhabism and Shi’ism are emerging, several Islamic and conservative groups have halted progress on these issues. My paper will explore the unique ways that feminists in Morocco have negotiated the desires of liberals and conservatives while continuing to push for and accomplish changes to public policy. I will look specifically at two policies in which feminist groups are playing a large role: the Islamic Family Code and the abortion laws. Using a textual analysis and ethnographic data collected in Morocco, I will show that many feminist groups are not calling for the abandoning of Islam, even though in global discourses women are oftentimes seen to be suppressed within Islamic ideologies. Rather, these feminists who proclaim themselves as Muslims have productively based their arguments for women’s issues in the context of the sacred books. I hope to highlight that while their methods to achieve change may differ, in reality there is little variation as to the objectives of Moroccan religious and secular feminists.