Abstract

Rather than arguing about whether "Muslim women" do or do not have rights, I suggest that we begin from the premise that the concept of, and the practices around, "Muslim women's rights" have an active social life today that can and should be studied ethnographically. The kinds of questions that guide us then become: In what debates and institutions do "Muslim women's rights" partake? How are they mediated? What work do the notion and the practices organized in its terms do in various places, for various kinds of women? What infrastructures support them? As an anthropologist, I examine just a few of the many sites where "Muslim women's rights" are differentially in play: in Egyptian and Palestinian women's NGOs as well as in rural villages where ordinary women and girls live their lives at the intersection of national media and local institutions.

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