Masculinity in Islam Discussion March, April 1996

Query:

>From Joni Petruskevich
jpetrusk@gpu.srv.ualberta.ca>

While a lot of work on gender in the Middle East and North Africa has focused mostly on the various social/cultural constructions of "femininity," very little work seems to be done on the subject of "masculinity." I am writing a paper on this topic, "Masculinity in Islam" but haven't been able to find enough material. I have searched Index Islamicus of the Middle East but the only work I found so far is Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Moslem Societies(1992).

Any leads, suggestions, titles would be deeply appreciated. Please respond to me privately and I will compile and repost the findings to the list for those who might be interested. Thanks in advance.

Responses:

>From Bradford Verter          bjverter@phoenix.princeton.edu    
       28 March 1996

Marmon, Shaun E. Eunuchs and Sacred Boundaries in Islamic Societies(NY: Oxford UP, 1995)

>From Adele Fletcher a.fletcher@csc.canterbury.ac.nz 01 April 1996

This might be worth a look. Despite the title this book is mostly about sexuality and as I recall had material on masculinity/male sexuality. It seems to me that a lot of lit. ostensibly about women/femininity will tell you a good deal about men/masculinity.

Women in the Muslim Unconscious by Fatna A. Sabbah; trans. by Mary Jo Lakeland

(Other title: Femme dans l'inconscient musulman)

>From Richard Pennel Univ. of Melbourne 01 April 1996

  1. Index Islamicus is not the easiest thing on earth to use. You have to get used to its categorizations, and I can't imagine that "masculinity" is one of them(though I have not checked)-for the good reason that as she suggests-it's not a "big" topic. If she could get hold of the CD-Rom version of Index Islamicus, she'd have a better chance, because she could do a word search on titles. We don't have it, though.

However, there is a BIG literature on eroticism, which would seem to be part of her topic, from the title she quotes. She could start with:

Society and the Sexes in Medieval Islam edited by Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid-Marsot.(Malibu, Calif,, Undena Publications, 1979)

which has several articles that touch on the theme and on how men see their relationship with women. These are foot-note heavy articles so she should find lots of leads there.

Also the biography of Bassim Musallam Sex and Society in Medieval Islam(Cambridge UP, sometime in early '80s) would be helpful-it's really about contraception, but it wanders off the point from time to time.

She might also want to check the bibliography of Marsot's latest book Women and Men in Late Eighteenth Century Egypt(Austin U of Texas Press, 1995) for which, by chance, I have a flyer on my desk-we don't have it yet. It's mainly about women rather than men(which is your friend's problem, of course) but Marsot is usually so thorough, I can't believe she'd leave male identities out of it.

I think actually she(your friend) might be better to look at some sociological/anthropological materials or even some collections of proverbs and piecing it together herself. Another approach would be to check out some anthologies of Islamic poetry-particularly medieval and pre-Islamic (jahiliya) poetry: that's pretty often about being male and strong and brave, and a search for LITERARY sources (RA Nicholson, Literary History of the Arabs MAY have something, though it's a long time since I looked at it.)

A starting point would be:

Dwyer, Daisy Hilse Images and Self-Images: Male and Female in Morocco(NY; Columbia U Press, 1978). There is a new book about youth culture in Morocco which has a certain amount of things on this, as far as I remember-it's in the trunk with everything else!- I'll pull it out when I get it delivered.

There is quite a lot on questions of honour and shame in Mediterranean societies that concerns Islamic countries- she might want to check out some of the anthropological material i.e. Hart, David The Aith Waryaghar of The Moroccan RIF(Tucson, 1976?) that has a fair amount on maleness.

If she reads Russian(!) she might want to check out a book on Tajikastan

Rakhimov, R.R. (Rakhmat Rakhimovich), "Muzhskie doma" v traditsionnoi kul'yure tadzhikov (Leningrad: "Nauka," Leningradskoe otd-nie, 1990 153, [4]p; 22cm.)

Notes: At head of title: Akademiia nauk SSSR. Institut etnografii im. N.N. Miklukho-Maklaia.

Includes bibliographical references (p.148-154). Subjects: Men--Tajikistan--Socialization; Men--Tajikistan--Socities and Clubs; Men--Tajikistan--Social networks; Tajik S.S.R.--Social life and customs. (My source for that is MELVYL and it is the only thing thrown in by "men-socialization" concerned with a muslim country.

There are some great Libyan cartoons about male perceptions of female threat, etc, that I'll show you sometime(again when our stuff arrives). Not a great showing, really-but that's because there isn't much. Fun looking, though. I'll probably do some digging myself for next semester. Hope it's some use.

Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 15:43:42 GMT+1000 From: Dr Marian Quartly Marian.Quartly@arts.monash.edu.au

I don't know if your interest extends to Malaysia - if so, Harry Aveling, School of Asian Studies, Latrobe U, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia, is writing a PhD Thesis on a contemporary Malay writer which bears on the masculinity issue in the context of a discussion of the nature of Islam in Malaysian culture. He has published a bit on it, I don't know the details. His email address is asthga@lure.latrobe.edu.au but i don't think he reads his email regularly. Marian Quartly ...................................................................

From: Alexander Freund Alexander.Freund@Hamburg.NetSurf.de

The only article I can think of that relates remotely to your query is Graham Dawson's "The Blond Bedouin: Lawrence of Arabia, imperial adventure and the imagining of English-British masculinity" in _Manful Assertions: Masculinities in Britain since 1800_, ed. Michael Roper and John Tosh, London and New York: Routledge, 1991. I haven't read it for a while, but it might give you an idea of how the British imagined Arab men.

From: IN%"a.fletcher@csc.canterbury.ac.nz"

This might be worth a look. Despite the title this book is mostly about sexuality and as I recall had material on masculinity/male sexuality. It seems to me that a lot of lit. ostensibly about women/femininity will tell you a good deal about men/masculinity. _Woman in the Muslim unconscious_ by Fatna A. Sabbah; translated by Mary Jo Lakeland. (Other title Femme dans l'inconscient musulman.) regards, Adele. .....................................................................

>From Richard Pennel, U of Melbourne

There is a BIG literature on eroticism, which would seem to be part of her topic, from the title she quotes. She could start with _Society and the sexes in medieval Islam_ edited by Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid-Marsot. (Malibu, Calif.: Undena Publications, 1979) which has several articles that touch on the theme and on how men see their relationship with women. These area foot-note heavy articles so she should find lots of leads there.

Also the bibliography of Bassim Musallam SEX & SOCIETY IN MEDIEVAL ISLAM (Cambridge UP, sometime in the early 80s) would be helpful - it's really about contraception, but it wanders off the point from time to time.

She might also want to check the bibliography of Marsot's latest book WOMEN AND MEN IN LATE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY EGYPT (Austin U of Texas Press, 1995) for which by chance I have a flyer on my desk - we don't have it yet. It's mainly about women rather than men (which is your friend's problem. of course) but Marsot is usually so thorough, I can't believe she'd leave male identities out of it.

I think actually she (your friend) might be better, to look at some sociological/ anthropological materials or even some collections of proverbs and peicing it together herself. Another approach would be to check out some anthologies of Islamic poetry - particularly medieval and pre-Islamic (jahiliya) poetry: that's pretty often about being male and strong and brave, and a search for LITERARY sources (RA Nicholson, Literary History of the Arabs MAY have something, though it's a long long time since I looked at it.)

A starting point would be Dwyer, Daisy Hilse. Images and self-images: male and female in Morocco. New York: Columbia U Press, 1978.

There is quite a lot on questions of honour and shame in Mediterranean societies that concerns the Islamic countries. David Hart: THE AITH WARYAGHAR OF THE MOROCCAN RIF (Tuscon, 1976?) has a fair amount on maleness.


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