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Between Rites and RightsExcision in Women's Experiential Texts and Human Contexts$
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Chantal Zabus

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780804756877

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804756877.001.0001

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Between Rights and Future Rites

(p.265) Conclusion
Between Rites and Rights
Stanford University Press

The women who have experienced excision or the threat of it provide a wide range of subjective perspectives that highlights the complexity of the contexts (religion, culture, law) underlying the practice as well as the interdependency of text and context. In particular, women's first-person narratives and texts detailing their experiences with excision have uncovered women's liminal positioning between rites and rights. The pressures to stop long-lasting, ancestral practices such as excision, from its most symbolic forms to infibulation, can be traced to “the West,” and are directed at non-Western, specifically African, societies. However, genital practices in Africa have also influenced Western theories of (female) sexuality, mainly by informing modern medical discourse in Europe and energizing early European anthropology and psychoanalysis. Two areas of further research may be explored with regards to excision: sexuality and body modification. This chapter considers these two topics, along with experiential texts around male circumcision. It also looks at Denis Diderot's libertine satire Les Bijoux indiscrets ([1748] 2001) and how it tackles the excision rite as well as women's voicing of their experience.

Keywords:   women, excision, circumcision, sexuality, body modification, Denis Diderot, Les Bijoux indiscrets, rites, rights, Africa

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