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FA-55502-10
Modernity within Islam: The Politics of Progressive Family Law Reform
Mounira Charrad, University of Texas, Austin

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FA-55502-10

Gender in the Middle East: Islam, State, Agency (Article)
Title: Gender in the Middle East: Islam, State, Agency
Author: Mounira M. Charrad
Abstract: Abstract: The scholarship on gender in the Middle East has overwhelmingly taken two objectives as its mandate: First, to dismantle the stereotype of the silent, passive, subordinate, victimized and powerless Muslim woman; and second, to challenge the exceptionalism of Islam as a monolithic entity shaping women’s condition in the same way in all places. The urgency of the tasks involved in this endeavor has been heightened by the fact that gender has come to demarcate battle lines in geo-political struggles since 9/11 and to occupy a central place in the discourse of international relations in regard to Muslim countries. In an effort to reflect major developments in the field, I offer in this article a critical analysis of the scholarship on issues that I see as constituting the core of the intellectual discourse on gender in the Middle East. These include: the critique of Orientalism past and present; the exploration of the diversity within Islam; the study of states and gender with respect to symbolic representations, institutions as well as kin-based solidarities; the analysis of women’s agency; and the debates surrounding feminism and the veil.
Year: 2011
Primary URL: http:/http://www.annualreviews.org.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.soc.012809.102554?prevSearch=charrad&searchHistoryKey=
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Annual Review of Sociology
Publisher: Annual Reviews

Family Law in Tunisia: The Code of Personal Status from the 1950s to the 2000s (Book Section)
Title: Family Law in Tunisia: The Code of Personal Status from the 1950s to the 2000s
Author: Hyunjeong Ha
Author: Mounira M. Charrad
Editor: Adrien Wing
Abstract: The book chapter discusses family law in Tunisia since the promulgation of the formative text called Code of Personal Status in 1956. The chapter traces the development of the law from then to 2010 with particular attention to significant reforms in the 1990s. It shows how Tunisia consistently followed a progressive policy in regard to family law and gender while maintaining an Islamic identity.
Year: 2011
Primary URL Description: Forthcoming with Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Book Title: Family Law and Gender in the Modern Middle East and North Africa
ISBN: Forthcoming

A Gentle Revolution: Reforms of Islamic Law in Morocco (Article)
Title: A Gentle Revolution: Reforms of Islamic Law in Morocco
Author: Rita Stephan
Author: Mounira M. Charrad
Abstract: This article examines how progressive reforms of family law were made in Morocco in 2004. We argue that Moroccan feminists’ gentle and gradual efforts were rewarded when the Mudawwana, the family law previously in effect since 1957, underwent major changes. We show that by being relatively embedded in conventional social and political networks, the women’s movement advanced women’s rights by participating in public discourse. At the same time, however, they continuously claimed their allegiance to Islam and Moroccan culture. The combination of identification with Islam and the voicing of demands made the reforms possible.
Year: 2011
Primary URL Description: Will be submitted shortly to Gender and Society
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: To be submitted shortly to Gender and Society

Modernity in Law: Multiple Agencies in Tunisia (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Modernity in Law: Multiple Agencies in Tunisia
Title: Modernity Law: Multiple Agencies in Tunisia
Author: Mounira M. Charrad
Abstract: The discourses of tradition and modernity in the Muslim world have overwhelmingly focused on issues of gender and Islamic law, which have been perceived among the highest stakes in policy choices and cultural representations. Modernity has been understood in this context in terms of greater legal rights for women. Starting in the 1950s and ever since, Tunisia has implemented gender legislation expanding women’s rights in family law. As a result, it has been at the forefront of the Arab world in regard to progressive legislation. This paper first examines the meaning ascribed to the concept of modernity in the social science discourse on the Middle East as well as in the political rhetoric. It then documents major phases of reforms in favor of women’s rights in Tunisia and outlines the conditions that permitted or encouraged the continuity over the last half century. The first wave of reforms in the 1950s transformed the legal construction of gender roles within the family. The second wave in the 1990s redefined the conditions for the transmission of Tunisian citizenship. Current debates concern primarily inheritance. In painting social change in broad strokes, I analyze the initial and pioneering phase of the 1950s as a reform resulting from the actions of a newly formed national state interested in building a new society at the end of colonial rule. By contrast, the role of women’s agency came into play in Tunisia starting in the 1980s and became more robust in the 1990s. The consequences of the recent 2011 Jasmine Revolution still have to be explored. The evidence suggests that different political configurations can be conducive to reform and that the pursuit of modernity can be initiated by different social actors.
Date: 12/04/2012
Conference Name: Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, Washington DC

Modernity and Islam: Conceptualizations of Law and Gender in the Scholarly Discourse (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Modernity and Islam: Conceptualizations of Law and Gender in the Scholarly Discourse
Author: Mounira M. Charrad
Abstract: Ever since the wave of decolonization from the 1940s to the 1960s, family law has been caught between the discourse of modernity and that of tradition in the Middle East. A popular view in Western Europe and in America sees modernity as representing the model of the West and tradition as embodying the authentic values of Islamic society. Arguing against binary representations, I suggest that these discourses should be treated as reflections of political struggles rather than as immutable expressions of culture. As elsewhere, culture in the Islamic world is deployed politically and strategically. Furthermore, the discourses of tradition and modernity are complex and replete with internal contradictions, as there are multiple forms of tradition and multiple forms of modernity. The paper discusses how issues of family law have been formulated in the context of struggles for power and how law is invoked as a way of either respecting or counteracting tradition. Political groups that take widely different stands on family law all appeal to Islam as the ultimate source of inspiration for their particular position. Issues of law, culture, tradition, modernity, and gender become inextricably intertwined. In an effort to disentangle them, the paper asks a key question of political sociology: who is served by the discourse of modernity versus tradition about the law? We need to differentiate between the states and social groups that find it advantageous to use the discourse of “Islamic tradition” and those that find it more beneficial to advocate “modernity.” The paper concludes that questions of power have to be brought to center stage when we consider the discourses of tradition and modernity in regard to family law in the Islamic world.
Date: 11-19-2010
Conference Name: Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, Chicago.

Patrimonial Power in the Modern World (Book)
Title: Patrimonial Power in the Modern World
Editor: Julia Adams
Editor: Mounira M. Charrad
Abstract: During the 2011 uprisings in the Arab world, protesters demanded the ouster of authoritarian forms of rule and an end to the influence of ruling families on politics, society, and the economy. These upheavals revealed that patrimonial power in its diverse forms is still a dynamic force in global politics, able to shape world events. This volume brings the study of patrimonialism back to center stage and presents the concept as a useful tool to analyze how nations, global developments, and international relations are influenced and transformed. Leading scholars show that patrimonial practices, present throughout history, are important features of global capitalist modernity. The authors analyze patrimonial politics in regions throughout the world, including in the United States, Tunisia, Chile, France, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Poland, and Russia. This volume will appeal to students of politics and policy and to a multidisciplinary scholarly audience in political sociology, historical social science, history, and social theory.
Year: 2011
Publisher: Sage (as part of the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Series, Volume 636)
Type: Edited Volume

Family Law and Islam (Article)
Title: Family Law and Islam
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: In discussing family law in countries with Muslim majority populations, a fundamental point to underscore is that Islamic ideals and practices took different forms in different places in the course of history despite a common theology. I find it useful to think of Islam as an ‘umbrella identity’, an idiom of cultural unity that goes together with considerable variations according to time and place. Islam has intermingled with many other factors such as local customs, politics, socioeconomic structures and historical conjuncture to shape the interpretation of family law in various ways, depending on time and circumstances. Islamic family law has been at the core of the Islamic tradition. Defining the rights and obligations of men and women in the family and, by extension, in the community and society at large, Islamic law regulates marriage, divorce, custody of children and inheritance rights. These issues matter a great deal for the stability of families and the well-being of individuals. They have led to a wide range of legal interpretations and practices.
Year: 2014
Periodical Title: Family Futures
Publisher: Tudor Rose in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Economic & Social Affairs, Division for Social Policy & Development

Equal or Complementary? Women in the New Tunisian Constitution after the Arab Spring (Article)
Title: Equal or Complementary? Women in the New Tunisian Constitution after the Arab Spring
Author: Mounira M. Charrad
Author: Amina Zarrugh
Abstract: The Arab Spring has inaugurated a new form of politics that represents a shift from a ‘politics from above’ to a ‘politics from below’ in regard to gender policy in Tunisia. Discourse surrounding state policy on gender, formerly the purview of elite groups, has recently been shaped and driven by popular organizations and associations. This article draws on Habermas to argue that the shift has been facilitated by the emergence of a new public sphere and engaged civil society following the fall of the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali regime in 2011. To demonstrate the emergence and diversity of Tunisian civil society, we focus on the promulgation of a new constitution and the debate surrounding Article 28, which has been contested by some Tunisians as reducing women’s status to ‘complementary.’ A discussion of women’s status in the history of Tunisian family law, especially in the popularly valorized Code of Personal Status, illustrates how women’s rights were historically expanded as a top down policy or ‘politics from above.’ We juxtapose this historical context with the present period of transition and constitution writing since 2011. An examination of quotations from Tunisian women, both opponents and supporters of Article 28, demonstrates the shift in Tunisia from a ‘politics from above’ to a ‘politics from below’ as women’s groups are making demands upon the state and voicing their concerns in ways that have profoundly influenced the tenor of debates around gender politics in the country.
Year: 2014
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Journal of North African Studies, Volume 19, Issue 2

The Arab Spring and Women's Rights in Tunisia (Article)
Title: The Arab Spring and Women's Rights in Tunisia
Author: Mounira M. Charrad
Author: Amina Zarrugh
Abstract: Women have been central to the events that have shaken Tunisian politics since the Arab Spring in 2010-11. They have played roles as protesters and politicians, activists and academics, journalists and photographers, and whether poor or privileged, urban or rural. Tunisia has long occupied an important position in the Arab world since the historic promulgation of its progressive family law in 1956, which placed the country at the forefront of the Arab world in regard to women’s rights (Charrad 2007). In an extensive comparative survey of Arab countries in 2009, Freedom House ranked Tunisia first in the major categories that concern women’s rights, including “autonomy, security, and freedom of person,” and “political and civic voice,” (Kerry & Breslin 2010). In this article, we address two related questions. In the first section, we consider how Tunisia came to occupy a premier position in regard to women’s rights through the promulgation of its Code of Personal Status (CPS) in 1956, well known throughout the Arab world, and the continuous amendments to the CPS over a half-century since then. In the second section, we discuss some of the current debates on women’s rights in Tunisia following the Arab Spring, including the mobilization of women around the controversial Article 28 in the draft of the new constitution. By “women’s rights,” we mean women’s rights in the law as it concerns personal status and family law. We focus on this aspect of the law because family law is, as lawyer and human rights activist Asma Khadar (1996: 2) stated unambiguously, “the gate of freedom and human rights for women” in the Arab and broader Muslim worlds. Family law has significant implications for women’s lives, including their ability to make life choices freely and to pursue educational and professional opportunities.
Year: 2013
Primary URL: http://www.eir.info/2013/09/04/the-arab-spring-and-womens-rights-in-tunisia/
Access Model: Open access
Format: Magazine
Periodical Title: E-International Relations

Central and Local Patrimonialism: State Building in Kin-Based Societies (Book Section)
Title: Central and Local Patrimonialism: State Building in Kin-Based Societies
Author: Mounira M. Charrad
Editor: Julia P. Adams
Editor: Mounira M. Charrad
Abstract: How useful is the concept of patrimonialism to analyze state formation and political dynamics in postcolonial nation-states? Using Tunisia, Morocco, and Iraq during critical periods of state-building following the end of colonial rule, the author considers this question. The purpose of the article is to build on Max Weber by exploring how patrimonialism operates in kin-based social contexts where power on the basis of kinship ties is exerted not only by a central authority but also by leaders of local communities organized along lines of real or fictive kinship—as was the case in the three countries in the period under examination. Suggesting that Weber undertheorized the way in which central authority relates to local collectivities in his analysis of patrimonialism, the author identifies three patterns in the strategies used by central power toward local patrimonial networks: marginalization, integration, and shifts between marginalization and integration. The article argues that central patrimonialism can be accommodated with all three strategies directed toward local patrimonialism.
Year: 2011
Publisher: Sage (as part of the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences)
Book Title: Patrimonial Power in the Modern World

Patrimonialism, Past and Present: An Introduction (Book Section)
Title: Patrimonialism, Past and Present: An Introduction
Author: Mounira M. Charrad
Author: Julia P. Adams
Editor: Julia P. Adams
Editor: Mounira M. Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Year: 2011
Publisher: Sage (as part of the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences Series)
Book Title: Patrimonial Power in the Modern World

Challenges for Feminists: Politics and Islam from Authoritarianism to the Arab Spring in Tunisia (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Challenges for Feminists: Politics and Islam from Authoritarianism to the Arab Spring in Tunisia
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Date: 4/3/2014
Conference Name: Conference on Feminism and Authoritarianism in the Middle East, Indian University

Keynote address (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Keynote address
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Date: 10/14/2013
Conference Name: Gendered Citizenship: History, Politics and Democracy

Gender, Islam and Power: Shifting Paradigms (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Gender, Islam and Power: Shifting Paradigms
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Date: 10/14/2013
Conference Name: Gendered Citizenship: History, Politics and Democracy

Gender Politics in North Africa: Trends and Challenges (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Gender Politics in North Africa: Trends and Challenges
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Date: 2/8/2013
Conference Name: The Shifting Dynamics of Power in North Africa and the Middle East (Sponsored by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the U.S. Department of State)

Modernity within Islam: The Politics of Progressive Family Law Reform (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Modernity within Islam: The Politics of Progressive Family Law Reform
Abstract: N/A
Author: Mounira Charrad
Date: 5/30/2012
Location: White House (Panel on Exploring Communities of Muslim Women throughout History)

Family Law in the Arab World (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Family Law in the Arab World
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Date: 5/15/2012
Conference Name: Expert Group Meeting on Good Practices in Family Policy (as an Expert for the United Nations, Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs)

Women Friendly Reforms of Islamic Law under Authoritarianism: Tunisia from the 1950s to 2010 (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Women Friendly Reforms of Islamic Law under Authoritarianism: Tunisia from the 1950s to 2010
Author: Mounira Charrad
Author: J. H. Ha
Abstract: N/A
Date: 8/13/2013
Conference Name: Annual meeting of the American Sociological Association

A Vexed Relationship: State and Family in the Middle East (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: A Vexed Relationship: State and Family in the Middle East
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Date: 11/1/2012
Conference Name: Annual meeting of the Social Science History Association

Modernity, Islam, Gender: Postcolonial Perspectives (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Modernity, Islam, Gender: Postcolonial Perspectives
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Date: 8/18/2012
Conference Name: Annual meeting of the American Sociological Association

State and Law: How they Intersect (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: State and Law: How they Intersect
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Date: 8/16/2012
Conference Name: Annual meeting of the American Sociological Association

State and Law: A Perspective from Political Sociology (Article)
Title: State and Law: A Perspective from Political Sociology
Author: Mounira Charrad
Abstract: N/A
Year: 2013
Format: Other
Periodical Title: AMICI, Volume 21
Publisher: Sociology of Law Section, American Sociological Association

Revolutions, Old and New (Article)
Title: Revolutions, Old and New
Author: Mounira Charrad
Author: Danielle Kane
Abstract: N/A
Year: 2012
Format: Other
Periodical Title: Trajectories, Volume 24
Publisher: Comparative and Historical Sociology Section, American Sociological Association


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