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Gender, Islamic Normativity and Cultural Critique in the Arab Region

Focusing on issues of gender and sexual difference as schemes for reconfiguring Islamic normativity, the project studies the shaping of modern Islamic discourse in the framework of (post-)colonial political as well as epistemic entanglements from the end of the 19th to the 21st century. The nature and role of women as well as relations between the sexes in marriage, the family and society were major concerns of public debates on religion, modernity and scientific progress since the colonial period. In these debates, Islam emerged as a key reference in inner- as well as interreligious disputes far beyond religious circles while being itself continuously reinterpreted and reorganized on the structural as well as the conceptual level. At the same time, gender started to function as a crucial apologetic device in modern conceptions of Islamic normativity. Starting from this observation, the project enquires into the ways in which gender is deployed in competing yet interrelated reformulations of sharia.