Scandals of Seduction and the Seduction of Scandal: Feminist Injury and the Muslim Difference

Friday, Nov 06, 2015 - Friday, Nov 06, 2015 | 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

691 Barrows Hall, CRG Conference Room
Location is ADA accessible

Scandals of Seduction and the Seduction of Scandal: Feminist Injury and the Muslim Difference
Dina M. Siddiqi

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This paper revolves around two distinct but entangled lines of inquiry. The first considers the spectacle of Muslim female vulnerability in relation to projects of global solidarity and sisterhood. In light of the entrenched, recursive nature of prevailing associations between Islam and spectacularized cultural violence, I ask what counts as a feminist injury and for whom. Under what conditions is the normative feminist gaze scandalized, and what does this imply for the politics of seeing and not seeing? I suggest that in addition to long-sedimented Orientalist tropes of Muslim women’s bodies under threat, secular liberal sensibilities toward pain — visible, bodily and attributable to religious backwardness — render certain kinds of injury always already scandalous. Less spectacular forms of (secular) violence do not offend contemporary moral sensibilities in quite the same manner. I go on to explore the implications of viewing women’s injuries through the ensuing distinction between religiously inflicted ‘illiberal’ pain and less visible ‘secular’ forms of suffering. Drawing on a study of informal fatwas and legal judgments on rape, I argue that in the particular instance of rural Bangladesh, resulting analytical blind spots allow questions of female desire and sexual agency to be perpetually elided.

Event organized by the CRG working group, Muslims Identities Cultures

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