What lies behind the new American common-sense that we should go to war for global women’s rights? We must look at Orientalism’s twenty-first century forms. Lila Abu-Lughod argues that two industries that we rarely think of together are authorizing the current moral crusade to save Muslim women: the international human rights regime and mass-market publishing, which has brought us a sordid genre of (pornographic) pulp “non”fiction about Muslim women’s bondage and oppression. Drawing on experiences in rural Egypt and urging us to think carefully about human life, Abu-Lughod offers alternative ways to think about the key terms of this crusade—choice versus force, freedom versus bondage.
This lecture was given at the Edward Said Memorial Conference, which focused on Edward Said’s legacy and paid tribute to the 10th anniversary of his passing. Each day of the conference featured renowned speakers and established academics on Edward Said’s work. Major attention was paid to cultural activities that resounded with Said’s vision in combining scholarship with the Arts so as to support the quest for justice, self-determination and equality.