Reference : NGOs and female circumcision in Egypt. An anthropological enquiry
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Paper published in a journal
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Anthropology
NGOs and female circumcision in Egypt. An anthropological enquiry
Mescoli, Elsa mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Faculté des sciences sociales > Centre d'études de l'ethnicité et des migrations (CEDEM) >]
Anthropology of Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia
Yes (verified by ORBi)
ECAS 7th European Conference on African Studies
from 29-06-2017 to 01-07-2017
[en] female circumcision ; NGOs ; humanitarianism
[en] In 1994, during the International Conference on Population and Development convened by the United Nations in Cairo, a shocking video was shown, realized by an operator of CNN and depicting the circumcision of a ten-year-old child living in this very same city. Discourses around female circumcision were not new in Egypt and in the international community, but what was considered as a new episode of a recurrent scandal (not the last one indeed) led to enhance the “war against bad government” (Foucault 2003: 38). A war fought by means of ideological weapons produced by various forms of expert knowledge among which the medical and the feminist ones. The assignment of a value to the state of integrity of the female body and to the women freedom of choice, both designed according to Western canons, led to different actions to “save” Egyptian women. In this context, development agencies foster a widespread representation of the victim, constituted by the woman mutilated body. Such representation is functional to put in place programs which do not guarantee a freedom of choice, but rather require adherence to another female model, one that defines the "modern" woman.
My article, based on ethnographic experience, aims at highlighting the complexity of such dynamics and the role played by humanitarianism within them. Female body becomes the arena where local and international economic powers operate, disregarding a real understanding of the practice, its meanings and its eventual change.

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