Back to Islam? Women's Sexualities and Body-Politics in Muslim Central Asia

in Hawwa
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Abstract

In this paper I examine the commonly held assumption that the developments we witnessed in Central Asian societies since the disintegration of the Soviet Union could be interpreted as a "return to pre-Soviet Islamic traditions". I am specifically concerned with reports about the increasing violations of women's sexual rights and mounting control over their bodies, developments that are accompanied by a "conspiracy of silence" about sexual matters.This essay is based on anthropological fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan, various reports from other Central Asian republics, a review of Soviet sex and gender policies, and analysis of Islamic Scriptures on the issue of sexuality. Even though some Muslim practices regarding sexualities can be seen as having a basis in the Qurān, the interpretations and translations into daily practice are to a major extent influenced by political, economic, and socio-cultural forces. I trace these processes in the case of Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asia and argue that the rhetoric of a "return to Islamic traditions" does not take into account the significant impact on other forces on the current practices of policing women's bodies and silencing discourses on sexualities.

Back to Islam? Women's Sexualities and Body-Politics in Muslim Central Asia

in Hawwa

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