Re: female circumcision-A

Christopher King (
Mon, 28 Nov 1994 01:41:00 GMT

On 11-27-94 CTFAULKN@UTKVX.UTK.EDU wrote about Re: female circumcision-

C>!cs From:
C>Newsgroups: sci.anthropology
C>Subject: Re: female circumcision-A
C>Date: Sun, 27 Nov 94 10:32:57 GMT

C>In Article <>
C> (Christopher King) writes:
C>> However, I wonder about the term
C>>"mutilation" which has emotional overtones. In the same vein, I
C>wonder >if the cultures in which these practices are carried out
C>attach any >aesthetic value to the finished product. All this talk
C>>about mutilation and degradation seems to overlook the questions of
C>how the practice is >constructed in local terms. Or is it just a
C>barbaric practice of >degradation and suppression physically forced
C>on resisting girls? >

C> I agree. I think this issue should be the focus of study and
C> discussion before folks decide to start developing plans for
C> intervention. Even in the name of public health. I think as
C>you noted the term mutilation carries with it emotional tones. A
C>question which needs to be posed is .... is the reason for opposing
C>this practice health related or simply an emotional reaction to male
C>dominance. If it is the latter, this is hardly a reason for taking a
C>stand on such a sensitive issue.

C>>C>As I recall anthropological training should be directed at
C>>C>teaching skills necessary to conduct research on cullturally
C>>C>sensitive issues. This means learning and listening from those on
C>>C>the inside of the culture we wish to study.
C>> we can enforce our liberal values without seeming to do so. I
C>>thought this kind of anthropology was something of the past.

C>If this is the anthropology of the past...... what is the anthropology
C>of the present? I guess I've just grown old in the same mold.

Anthropology of the past, as far as I'm concerned, has been a Trojan
horse for engineered social and cultural change in the interests of
colonial expansion. The anthropology of the present may well involve
Trojans, but as a countermeasure to the perceived moral threat from the

C> I believe that culture change is a given and values of one
C>culture will inevitably come into conflict with those of another.
C>Especially in our present global community. The role of anthropology
C>is to mitigate the adverse effects of rapid culture change.

I suspect you're assuming here a scenario of stronger external cultural
forces acting on weaker local cultures. How else indeed. Do we need
anthropologists to mitigate the cultural influences of African Moslems
on American practices of the body? You may not be assuming this, but you
may be overlooking the possibility that cultural change (especially in
the scenario of globalisation (what global community?) is often
generated internally.

As far as
C>the issue of female circumscisin is concerned I think we are at the
C>point where increasing preassure will be put on those nations in which
C>the practice occurs. We have 2 choices... to butt out an let well
C>meaning beaurcrats and policy makers screw it up with ultimatums,
C>censures, and economic sanctions formulated from an emotional
C>e, or we can find ways to move those societies to a position where
C>the practice is not as important for ethinc solidarity as it used to

I do believe there is a third alternative in the (especially) women of
these societies who have a realistic understanding of the issues to be
faced within their own cultures and are doing what they can according to
their own wisdom. Has anyone cited their opinions in this thread--for
example from the international women's conference which was held in
Cairo this year?