Creating Conservatism or Emancipating Subjects? On the Narrative of Islamic Observance in Egypt

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Social Research Center (SRC)

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Hania Sholkamy

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

IDS Bulletin

Publication Date

Winter 11-1-2011



Women activists, politicians and policymakers including international development experts are seeking to harness the power of the divine. The rationale is simple: if people are driven by faith, then let us use faith to drive them towards social and political change. This article problematises the instrumentalisation of religion, arguing that there are many risks in pursuing this route as a way of addressing gendered injustices. It also calls for a different approach to disentangling women's engagement with religion as politics, as morality and as personal piety, using women's hair as a case in point. This is set against the discussion of the proliferations of religiosity that are shaping the subjectivities of men and women and changing the Egyptian polity.

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