Situating the Issues, Framing the Analysis
SITUATING THE ISSUES: FRAMING THE ANALYSIS, MIXED BLESSINGS: LAWS, RELIGIONS AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION, A. Whiting & C. Evans, pp. 1-10, 2006
25 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2007
The essays in this volume explore some of the diverse and contradictory ways that the lives of women in the Asia Pacific region are shaped by two powerful regimes 'religion' and 'law' and by the interactions between them. They show that for women, laws (customary, colonial, post-independence and international) and religions (indigenous or introduced, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Confucianism) have been a 'mixed blessing'. These diverse legal systems and religious doctrines and institutions have variously denied women authority and the capacity to participate fully in the public organization of social, political and religious life; they have furthermore constructed gender and familial relations in ways that subordinate women. Yet they have also offered promises of women's empowerment, and provided rules and procedures, norms, values, and interpretations of sacred traditions to deliver those emancipatory promises.
Over the last decade or so, many stimulating works have been published in several disciplines that address questions about women in Asia; women, colonialism and nationalism; women and religious fundamentalism (with its increasingly prominent sub-category of women and Islamic fundamentalism); women's rights in international law; and religion and law; 6 as well as combinations of these issues and themes.
Provocatively and productively, there is also a large literature on Third World feminism(s). Yet we perceive a need for a collection which attends to the specificities of women's location within national structures in the Asia-Pacific region as these state legal regimes intersect with, or are inflected by, religious values and institutions. In particular, we recognize a need for a collection which makes space for a sustained consideration of Pacific as well as 'Asian' nations and cultures, and which interprets religion broadly, bringing together in one volume studies of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and indigenous spiritual practices as they are constructed by, and intersect with, the state.
Keywords: women, Asia-Pacific, law, religion
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