Should Religious Ethics Matter to Feminist Politics?

Saba Mahmood

Saba Mahmood

Established in 2004 in honor of Barnard alumna Helen Pond McIntyre ’48, the McIntyre lectureship highlights the work of scholars who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of Women’s Studies. In past years, the lecture series has welcomed numerous feminist icons, including legal scholar Patricia Williams; human rights advocate Dorothy Q. Thomas; feminist science pioneer Anne Fausto-Sterling; and scholar and activist Angela Davis. This fall, we are pleased to highlight the work of Saba Mahmood, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California and expert on issues of secularism, gender, and modernity within the context of Islamist movements in the Middle East and South Asia. Professor Mahmood will reflect on why ethical practice and forms of embodiment matter to questions of feminist politics and analysis. By engaging some common misreadings of her 2005 book Politics of Piety, Mahmood urges feminist scholars to critically re-think the normative status accorded to secular conceptions of the self and body in contemporary debates about religion.

Saba Mahmood is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Berkeley. She is the author of Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, which received the 2005 Victoria Schuck award from the American Association of Political Science. Mahmood is the recipient of the 2007 Carnegie Corporation Scholar’s award, and the Frederick Burkhardt fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (2009-10). Her current project focuses on the politics of religious freedom in the Middle East.