Gender, Justice, and the Problem of Culture
From Customary Law to Human Rights in Tanzania
Published by: Indiana University Press
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.
1. Creating "Law": Colonial Rule, Native Courts, and the Codification of Customary Law
2. Debating Marriage: National Law and the Culture of Postcolonial Rule
3. Criminalizing Culture: Human Rights, NGOs, and the Politics of Anti-FGM Campaigns
4. Demanding Justice: Collective Action, Moral Authority, and Female Forms of Power
~African Studies Review
Gender, Justice, and the Problem of Culturespeaks to a wide range of disciplines and should find pride of place in our curricula.
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
Gender, Justice, and the Problem of Culturemakes a significant contribution to the study of law in East Africa and elsewhere among colonized peoples, and it should be required reading not only for academics interested in such matters but for activists and policymakers.
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
[T]this book [is] an excellent addition to scholarship and courses on gender, human rights, legal anthropology, critical development studies, and more.~American Ethnologist
Hodgson's book is both rich in detail and broad in its implications for understanding struggles for justice for marginalised groups. It deserves the attention of students and scholars of African studies, anthropology, history, political science and women's and gender studies.~Journal of Modern African Studies
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