Encountering the Transnational
Women, Islam and the Politics of Interpretation
When Muslim women from diverse national and cultural contexts meet one another through transnational dialogue and networking, what happens to their sense of identity and social agency? Addressing this question, Meena Sharify-Funk encountered women activists and intellectuals in North America, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia - women whose lives and visions have become linked by 'the transnational' despite their differing circumstances and intellectual backgrounds. The resultant work provides a rich and cliché-bursting account of women's reflections on a wide range of topics including: the status of women in Islam, the role of women as interpreters of religious norms, the relationship between secular and religious forms of self-identification, perceptions of Islamic-Western relations, experiences of marginalization, and opportunities for empowerment. Giving careful attention both to common threads in Muslim women's experiences and to the unique voices of remarkable women, this is a compelling account of conversations that are bringing new energy and dynamism into women's activism in a world of collapsing distances.
Meena Sharify-Funk is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
'...illuminates the rich and diverse transnational terrains across which women today create, contest and debate the meaning of Islam. This unique and groundbreaking study - ranging in its coverage from Morocco to Iran to Pakistan to Malaysia - reconfigures our understanding of global Muslim networking. Essential and compelling reading for scholars and practitioners alike.' Peter Mandaville, George Mason University, USA 'As a result of the author's hard work, this is a publication that breaks many old "fixed" stereotypes concerning women in Middle East culture and I have no hesitation in recommending it to sociologists and scientists interested in the Middle East, as well as to those who are concerned about the concepts of transnationality, modernisation and contemporary Muslim society.' Political Studies Review 'Encountering the Transnational is a welcome addition to the emergent field of Muslim women’s leadership with the analyses that it proposes of the new nexus of gender, activism, and transnationalism. Implications of this new convergence are important with its identification of new forces that push social actors to ’reengage’ with Islamic texts and Islamic identity and to foster what Sharify-Funk calls the new ’hermeneutic turn’.' Australian Religion Studies Review