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Beyond Comparison: 'African' Female Genital Cutting and 'Western' Cosmetic Surgery

Pedwell, Carolyn (2018) Beyond Comparison: 'African' Female Genital Cutting and 'Western' Cosmetic Surgery. In: Griffin, Gabriele and Jordal, Malin, eds. Body, Migration, Re/constructive Surgeries: Making the Gendered Body in a Globalized World. Routledge, London, UK, pp. 1-32. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
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Abstract

Making links between gendered embodied practices understood to be rooted in different cultural and geo-political contexts has become increasingly common within feminist literatures as a means to counter racism and cultural essentialism. The cross-cultural comparison most commonly made in this context is that between so-called ‘African’ female genital cutting (FGC) and ‘western’ body modifications. In this chapter, I analyse some of the ways in which FGC practices and other body-altering procedures (such as cosmetic surgery, intersex operations and 19th-century clitoridectomy) are compared within feminist texts. I identify two main comparative strategies, which I have termed ‘continuum’ and ‘analogue’ approaches. Because these strategies privilege gender and sexuality, I contend that they tend to efface the operation of other axes of social differentiation, namely race, cultural difference and nation. As such, the continuum and analogue approaches often reproduce problematic relationships between race and gender whilst failing to address the implicit role which race, cultural difference and nation continue to play in such models. I argue that feminists might more successfully seek to develop understanding, awareness and accountability across cultural and geo-political boundaries through examining, and engaging with, the intersectional processes through which embodied practices are relationally and hierarchically constructed.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Sociology
Depositing User: Carolyn Pedwell
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2017 08:06 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 20:03 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/65252 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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