Iterations of Female Agency and the Work of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

By Rose Anne Brister.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In her essays, autobiography, and short film, the Somali-born author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls for resistance on the part of Muslim men and women to the abuses of power that she sees inherent in Islamic theology and culture. Specifically, she argues that there is no female agency within a community based on Shari’a law other than one of resistance. Hirsi Ali’s construction of “agency in resistance” is one viable mode for the Muslim woman, though I argue not the only one, and I look to the scholars Dipesh Chakrabarty and Saba Mahmood who offer frameworks for considering iterations of female agency that resist epistemological binaries. Indeed, the globalized nature of cultural critique allows us to embrace new, hybrid epistemes useful here: How might we consider Hirsi Ali’s prescription for female agency, limited though it is, as a gateway toward new ways of thinking? That is, how might unmooring female agency from traditional strictures clear a workable space for new theorization? By way of attempting an answer to these questions, I consider the current political and juridical conflict involving Shari’a law courts in Great Britain in order to explore the practical ways in which Muslim immigrants, women particularly, might negotiate multiple identities, thereby holding personal beliefs in productive tension with public ones.

Keywords: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Female Agency, Shari’a Law

Global Studies Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.141-154. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.205MB).

Rose Anne Brister

Doctoral Student, Department of English, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Rose Anne Brister is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA.

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