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Book Review: Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005. 264 pp. ISBN 978—0—691—08695—8, $23.95 (pbk)

Book Review: Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005. 264 pp. ISBN 978—0—691—08695—8, $23.95 (pbk)

Abstract

Book Review Saba Mahmood Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005. 264 pp. ISBN 978—0—691—08695—8, $23.95 (pbk) SAGE Publications, Inc. 2010DOI: 10.1177/14647001100110020802 SindreBangstad Oslo University College, UK Reviewed by: This book by a social anthropologist a liated to the University of California at Berkeley has attracted a lot of attention from academics in the elds of anthropology, gender studies, philosophy and political science in recent years – and rightly so. For Mahmood’s at times overtly polemical intervention raises challen- ging questions about the ‘imperialism of categories’ which provides the prism through which Muslim women’s social and religious practices and agency are often seen by many Western secular feminists. Mahmood has received numerous accolades for her book, so I will concentrate on providing some points of critique here. Politics of Piety is based on ethnographic eldwork among pious Muslim women in Cairo. Mahmood is concerned with how these women’s agency is under- stood within secular feminist analysis: she wants to ‘question the overwhelming tendency within poststructuralist scholarship to conceptualize agency in terms of subversion or resigni cation of social norms’ (p. 14). Mahmood takes feminist scholars in anthropology
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