Can Anti-FGM Laws End the Cultural Practices of Female Genital Cutting?

CLA-ALL Events

Lessons from global data, programs, and ethnographic research in Sudan.

Despite decades of efforts to outlaw female genital cutting practices in countries of origin and among immigrants elsewhere, change has been very slow. Anthropologist Ellen Gruenbaum explores why laws are relatively ineffective and even harmful, provides ethnographic cases of effective change in the Sudanese context, and proposes a way forward for the health and human rights discourse and policies.

About the Speaker

Ellen Gruenbaum conducted long-term ethnographic research on Female Genital Cutting in Sudan. She served as a research consultant for UNICEF in Sudan and elsewhere. Her 2001 book, The Female Circumcision Controversy (University of Pennsylvania Press), based on her ethnographic research and the broader context of FGC in Africa, outlined the powerful reasons why the cultural practices of clitoridectomy and infibulation are deeply rooted, yet variable, dynamic, and changing. Her current research focuses on the process of change in Sudanese communities and on the global discourse and strategies for change, critiquing crude approaches to end FGC, and suggesting positive new directions. She delivered the Michael Kearney Memorial Lecture at the Society for Applied Anthropology in 2017, entitled “Extending Gendered Human Rights in a World of Harmful Global Practices.” Dr. Gruenbaum retired from Purdue in June and is now a Visiting Scholar in Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside.

This project was supported with funding from the College of Liberal Arts Faculty Development Center for Social Sciences.

Event time:

Friday, November 8, 2019
12:00 – 1:00pm
PFEN 241

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