Fundamental Misunderstandings: Issues in Feminist Approaches to Islamism
Abstract

Within feminist debates on Islamism, many issues remain both contentious and insufficiently explored, including the relationship of fundamentalism to religion, the situation of Islamism in relation to a supposed crisis of modernity and search for authenticity, its legitimation through "democratization" and "multiculturalism," the connection between fundamentalisms and extreme right politics, and the qualitative value attributed to women's widely acknowledged centrality to Islamism and cultural identity. This article explores these issues and, in doing so, discusses three problematic discursive frameworks within which the subject is generally approached: an "orientalist" discourse, which demonizes and essentializes Islam and the Muslim world; a "multiculturalist" discourse, which legitimates even the most fundamentalist Islamic voices in the name of "cultural difference" and "women's agency"; and a "pluralist" discourse, which distances itself from overtly right-wing political uses of Islam while maintaining an apologist stance in relation to Islam.


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