Circumcision is one of the oldest and most common surgical processes, being practised, for a range of medical, social and religious reasons, on up to 30% of males worldwide. It is currently being promoted by a range of health bodies as a means of tackling HIV in developing countries. Yet, there is significant concern about sexual, physiological and psychological effects and complications and its prophylactic effectiveness. In examining a case in which a failed circumcision was performed for religious reasons, the Regional Court in Cologne decided that the practice contravened the bodily autonomy of minors and was subject to the same legislation used to classify female genital cutting as assault. This, understandably, aroused serious concerns among various religious communities who practise circumcision. At the same time as religious groups seek to protect circumcision from comparisons with female genital cutting, there is a trend, particularly in post-colonial thought in the US, to revise negative understandings of female genital cutting by making cautious, positive comparisons with circumcision.
This collection considers the apparent contradictions and complications of the contemporary status and deployment of the many forms of genital cutting, raising a serious, wide-reaching question: what scope should society have to impose physically invasive rites on people?
This book was originally published as a special issue of Global Discourse.
Table of Contents
Introduction Matthew Johnson and Megan O’Branski 1. Robert Van Howe 2. Reply Susan Mendus and Martyn Griffin 3. Promoting Genital Autonomy by Exploring Commonalities between Male, Female, Intersex, and Cosmetic Female Genital Cutting Steven Svoboda 4. Reply Sara Johnsdotter 5. Critiquing Circumcision: In Search of A New Paradigm for Conceptualizing Genital Modification Zachary T Androus 6. Reply Jennifer Coffman 7. New Lives for Old: Modernity, Biomedicine, Traditional Culture and HIV prevention in Lesotho Nicola Bulled 8. Reply Louise Vincent 9. The Production of Sexual Mutilation among Muslim Women in Cairo Maria Malmstrom 10. Reply Debra DeLaet 11. Symposium on German Court ruling on circumcision: Thinking about Infant Male Circumcision after the Cologne Court Decision Geoffrey Brahm Levey, Ayelet Banai, Aziz Sheikh, Maria Kristiansen and Richard Shweder 12. Review symposium on The New Politics of Male Circumcision: HIV/AIDS, Health Law and Social Justice Marie Fox and Michael Thomson 13. Reviews Richard Mullender, Sydney Calkin, Sander L. Gilman 14. Reply Marie Fox and Michael Thomson
Matthew Johnson is a Lecturer and British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in Politics, Philosophy and Religion at the University of Lancaster, UK. He is interested in the evaluation of culture and the effect of forms of intervention on wellbeing. He has authored Evaluating Culture and edited The Legacy of Marxism.
Megan O’Branski is a PhD student in Politics at Newcastle University, UK.