Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures. Vol. 1: Methodologies, Paradigms, and Sources

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Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures. Vol. 1: Methodologies, Paradigms, and Sources. Edited by Suad Joseph. Leiden: Brill, 2003. Pp. xlix, 682. euro228/$326 (with series subscription: euro207/$296).

The Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures is a mammoth work that surveys major issues and themes in the study of women and gender in the Islamic world. When complete, it will include six volumes and will draw on contributions from an international team of over a thousand researchers, whose specializations vary by discipline, region, and period of study.

The first volume of this series, Methodologies, Paradigms, and Sources, is an impressive scholarly compendium. It is organized in three sections. The first contains thematic articles assessing the state of scholarship on women in particular periods, regions, and genres and providing short specialized bibliographies. (For example, there are entries on the literatures of the Crusades and Andalusia, and on Mughal India, the late Ottoman empire, and twentieth-century Eastern Europe.) The second section surveys the scholarship on women through disciplinary lenses, assessing fields as diverse as anthropology, law, and linguistics. The articles in this section also provide short specialized bibliographies. The third section consists of a much larger and more general bibliography (supplemented by author and subject indexes) listing books and articles about women in the Islamic world that have appeared in European languages since 1993.

The volume solidly covers the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia and also includes North America and Western Europe. Several countries-for example, Egypt, Morocco, and Afghanistan-have separate chapters of their own or are treated in small regional clusters (e.g., Malaysia and Singapore). By contrast, there are only two chapters surveying all of sub-Saharan Africa (in the pre- and post-eighteenth-century periods). Given the importance of Islamic culture to the African continent and the diversity of Muslim experiences therein, the coverage of the sub-Saharan region is meager relative to the rest of the essays.

Readers will find few direct references to Christian missions except in the articles by Julia Clancy-Smith (surveying Western colonialism in the Islamic world) and Linda Benson (examining the history of eastern Turkestan in the past two centuries) and in the bibliography of section 3. …


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