Applying gender and queer theory to pre-modern sources

Authored by: Ash Geissinger

The Routledge Handbook of Islam and Gender

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815367772
eBook ISBN: 9781351256568
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351256568-6

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Abstract

While the use of gender and queer theory is becoming more common in studies of early modern and contemporary Muslim societies, it is still unusual to see it employed in analyses of classical Muslim texts, particularly those typically regarded by Muslims as religiously authoritative. First, this chapter discusses key factors that contribute to ahistorical heteronormative and cisnormative misreadings of such sources. Then, it demonstrates how utilizing questions suggested by gender and queer theory when carrying out close readings of hadiths and early biographical sources can lead scholars to ask more searching questions about the multiple functions of gender categories, gender minorities, gender nonnormative behaviour, and same-sex desires in these texts. Far from being unimportant details in the examples studied, these textual features play important roles in constructions and negotiations of space, power, and authority, as well as social status, and suggest new and productive directions in research on these and other aspects of classical Muslim sources

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