In their excellent introduction to collection of essays, the editors (an assistant professor and a graduate student, both from the University of Washington’s anthropology department) wrote that “female `circumcision’ has emerged as a test case for cultural relativism as scholars struggle with how to approach the issue intellectually, emotionally, and morally.”
A variety of viewpoints, however, have been said to sometimes conflict with and sometimes repeat one another. but all honestly tackling the issues just mentioned without relying heavily on rhetoric or ideology. Some contributions are ethnological, others use a survey/applied research approach, and still others are mainly theoretical. As a whole, the volume succeeds in deflating many widely held assumptions about female “circumcision”, consistently put in quotation marks, to the point of annoyance and in raising important questions about these widespread and highly contested practices.
Students, scholars, policymakers, and rights advocates will learn a great deal from this provocative and timely book. Recommended for academic collections in anthropology, African and black studies, women’s studies, and human rights.