4th SEXRWA WEBINAR- ATTENDANCE FORM
12/05/21 - 18:00 GMT
SEXRWA WEBINAR #4 :
12/05/21 at 18:00 (GMT)

Title: "God, Hear our Prayers: Gender, Islam, and Human Rights in Genital Cutting Debates in Guinea-Bissau and Portugal"

Keywords: Genital cutting, Islam, human rights, gender, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal

In her lecture, Michelle Johnson explores the complex and ever-unfolding debate over initiation rituals, genital cutting, and human rights among Mandinga peoples in Guinea-Bissau and Guinean Muslim immigrants in Portugal. Drawing on transnational, multi-temporal fieldwork spanning more than two decades, she highlights local perspectives, global critiques, and the effects of Western media images on practitioners as they remake themselves and their ritual practices on and beyond the continent. She attempts to re-focus the debate from exclusively women to gender more broadly, and from physical health to the less obvious dimension of spiritual well-being. More specifically, she argues that human rights perspectives on genital cutting must also acknowledge men’s views, the practice of male circumcision, and the place of religion.


MICHELLE JOHNSON

Michelle Johnson holds a Ph.D and a M.A from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.A of the University of Washington. She is currently a Professor of Anthropology at Bucknell University. Her research primarily focusses on the anthropology of religion, gender politics and Islam, life course rituals, transnationalism, Lusophone Africa (particularly Guinea-Bissau) and on the African diaspora living in Portugal and in Europe, as well as on identity, environment and development in rural West Africa.

Project General Description:

Sexual and reproductive rights were inscribed explicitly in human rights instruments during the 1990's. While initially, especially during the 1970's, they were promoted in the framework of health under the banner of reproductive rights, these have widened considerably.Interventions have been designed from the macro-political level to the grassroots level. Nevertheless, the juridical and political nature of these instruments of international law, translated locally, creates forms of biopolitics that aren’t always aligned with local practices, thus promoting some resistances. A critical approach to this intersection is necessary, and the adequacy of transnational human rights language to sociocultural specificities should be questioned (Merry, 2012), because as Didier Fassin points out moral sentiments have become a driving force in contemporary politics (Fassin, 2012). This   project  analyses  this  in   two  west African countries,   Guinea   Bissau   and   Senegal. By looking in a critical perspective into the local activisms and the changing sociocultural practices, in relation with their social histories, we consider a field where local and international actors both develop discourses. We pay particular  attention to public discussions around dividing issues such as gender equality, sexual rights, gender based violence, abortion, planned reproduction, gender roles, but also to legislation and its enforcement, or the financing of local agents in the field of international human rights. For these SEXRWA Webinars we invited scholars developing research on subjects we consider to  have important correlations with our main objectives. With them we would like to widen the scope of the discussions on sexual and reproductive rights in Guinea Bissau and Senegal, to take into account local social dynamics.

More information at: https://sexrwa.cei.iscte-iul.pt/

This project is hosted at CEI-Iscte, and is financed by FCT (PTDC/SOC-ANT/31675/2017)
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