Eunuchs and Sacred Boundaries in Islamic Society

Eunuchs and Sacred Boundaries in Islamic Society

4.33 (3 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In this thought-provoking interdisciplinary work, Shaun Marmon describes how eunuchs, as a category of people who embodied ambiguity, both defined and mediated critical thresholds of moral and physical space in the household, in the palace and in the tomb of pre-modern Islamic society. The author's central focus is on the sacred society of eunuchs who guarded the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad in Medina for over six centuries and whose last representatives still perform many of their time honored rituals to this day. Through Marmon's account, the "sacred" eunuchs of Medina become historical guides into uncharted dimensions of Islamic ritual, political symbolism, social order, gender and time.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 176 pages
  • 148.3 x 225.6 x 16.8mm | 393.14g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195071018
  • 9780195071016
  • 2,057,912

Review quote

The book deals with some important aspects of sexuality and religion. Its scholarship is impeccable; Shaun Marmon has made an exhaustive study of Arabic sources, including many unpublished manuscripts and has used European sources in a wide variety of languages. She has interpreted these documents with the keenest historical imagination and reconstructed most vividly the events and institutions of that period. To my knowledge, this is the first and only systematic study on this particular subject. * Charles Issawi, Princeton University *show more

Back cover copy

The figure of the eunuch in non-Western cultures has long been an object of mystery and mystification to the West. This thought-provoking interdisciplinary work goes beyond sensationalism and stereotypes to offer a sensitive reconstruction of the historical role of the eunuch in Islam. In doing so, Eunuchs and Sacred Boundaries in Islamic Society offers an original and path-breaking exploration into some of the most fundamental aspects of Islamic religion, society, and culture. Shaun Marmon describes how the eunuch as a category of person embodied ambiguity and played a crucial role in premodern Islamic society as both the guardian and mediator of critical thresholds of moral and physical space in the household, in the palace, and in the tomb. Making use of techniques from literary analysis, social history and anthropology, she brings together a wide array of sources ranging from literary works, historical chronicles, biographies, pilgrimage diaries, travelers' accounts, and previously unexamined archival material. Through Marmon's account, the "sacred" eunuchs of Medina become historical guides into uncharted dimensions of Islamic ritual, political symbolism, social order, gender, and time. This fascinating study will be of interest to scholars and students of gender studies, ritual and culture studies, and Islamic cultural history and religion.show more

Rating details

3 ratings
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