Gender, Justice, and the Problem of Culture

Gender, Justice, and the Problem of Culture : From Customary Law to Human Rights in Tanzania

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When, where, why, and by whom is law used to force desired social change in the name of justice? Why has culture come to be seen as inherently oppressive to women? In this finely crafted book, Dorothy L. Hodgson examines the history of legal ideas and institutions in Tanzania - from customary law to human rights - as specific forms of justice that often reflect elite ideas about gender, culture, and social change. Drawing on evidence from Maasai communities, she explores how the legacies of colonial law-making continue to influence contemporary efforts to create laws, codify marriage, criminalize FGM, and contest land grabs by state officials. Despite the easy dismissal by elites of the priorities and perspectives of grassroots women, she shows how Maasai women have always had powerful ways to confront and challenge injustice, express their priorities, and reveal the limits of rights-based legal ideals.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 204 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 16mm | 471.74g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 0253025206
  • 9780253025203

Review quote

"This is a book that only Dorothy Hodgson could have written, with her decades of work in Tanzania, vast networks in Maasailand, and deep ethnographic knowledge, combined with her deftness in working through more theoretical work on gender and human rights. Closely argued, conceptually sharp, and engagingly written." -Brett Shadle, author of Girl Cases: Marriage and Colonialism in Gusiiland, Kenya, 1890-1970 "Dorothy Hodgson asks a number of important and clearly articulated questions, and provides thoughtful answers to them using a hybrid of historical and anthropological methodologies that combine in-depth case studies with more empirically-informed macro-level reflection. A concise and useful resource in the undergraduate as well as the graduate classroom." -Priya Lal, author of African Socialism in Postcolonial Tanzania: Between the Village and the Worldshow more

About Dorothy L. Hodgson

Dorothy L. Hodgson is Professor of anthropology and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (Graduate School-New Brunswick) at Rutgers University and past President of the African Studies Association.As a historical anthropologist, she has worked in Tanzania, East Africa, for almost thirty years on such topics as gender, ethnicity, cultural politics, colonialism, nationalism, modernity, the missionary encounter, transnational organizing, and the indigenous rights movement. Her work has been supported by awards from the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, American Council for Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, American Philosophical Society, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.show more

Table of contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Creating "Law": Colonial Rule, Native Courts, and the Codification of Customary Law2. Debating Marriage: National Law and the Culture of Postcolonial Rule3. Criminalizing Culture: Human Rights, NGOs, and the Politics of Anti-FGM Campaigns4. Demanding Justice: Collective Action, Moral Authority, and Female Forms of PowerConclusionBibliographyIndexshow more