ESWTR Portogallo – call for paper: “The xenophobic manipolation of women rights”

Organization: Júlia Garraio, Mihaela Mihai, Teresa Toldy

In recent years in Europe, discourses on women’s rights have frequently served as a basis for political agendas aiming to control and exclude certain communities. Is this truly a case of greater awareness about women’s rights and of an institutionalised feminism that clashes with certain cultural and religious practices that are “regressive and incompatible with gender equality”? Or is it rather the case that references to women’s rights are just a mask for attacking certain groups against whom “the centre” defines itself by way of exclusion? And is Europe the exception? Can we find comparable situations in other regions of the world, where women’s rights are instrumentalised for the purpose of rejecting “the Other”? Can we find a line of continuity between present and past practices of exclusion, such as the colonial discourse on “saving women” from barbarous practices?

Female genital cutting, the institutionalization of religious family law, reproductive rights, certain understandings of “proper” gender roles for women and men, or sexual exploitation are at the core of fierce European debates, where the rights of women are often used to target certain cultural and religious groups. The use of various forms of the Muslim veil has emblematically sparked strong reactions from various sectors of the European public sphere. As a consequence, women from certain backgrounds may feel confronted with a tragic choice between their rights as individuals and their cultural and religious allegiances.

The fact that the terms of these debates are often “overculturalized” has a negative impact on the quality of public deliberation:

1. the internal complexity and the multiplicity of functions that cultural practices fulfill for those concerned are hidden;
2. the non-cultural factors (economic, geopolitical, environmental) that affect the lives of women become invisible;
3. under the pretext of defending women rights, imperialist, xenophobic and racist agendas get promoted;
4. the ways in which women exercise agency within their cultures become invisible;
5. the levels of violence against “emancipated” women in the West is left out of the discussion.

This special number of e-cadernos ces aims to present a careful and rigorous analysis of some of these issues, in view of examining to what extent the tension between individual and cultural/religious rights is real and insuperable, or fabricated for the purpose of protecting certain political interests.

We invite contributions on the culturalization and instrumentalization of women’s rights in the public sphere of various countries, as well as papers that tackle the much-debated tension between civil and political rights, on the one hand, and cultural and religious rights, on the other. We are also interested in papers that examine the institutional dimension of such issues: both critiques of existing institutions and constructive reform proposals are welcome. Though our focus lies with contemporary Europe, we are open to contributions about other epochs and regions where processes of instrumentalizing women and their rights for racist and xenophobic purposes took/are taking place.

We welcome a plurality of theoretical and methodological positions and encourage submissions in sociology and political science, public policy, history, theology, political philosophy, cultural studies, as well as papers by activists and lawyers. Through an interdisciplinary dialogue between different perspectives, we hope to add new insights into the debates.

Articles should be submitted electronically to:

Deadline for submitting articles:  September 30, 2012.

Submission Guidelines:

All manuscripts will go through a blind peer review process.

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