Islamist Women's Agency and Relational Autonomy

Hypatia 33 (2):195-215 (2018)
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Mainstream conceptions of autonomy have been surreptitiously gender-specific and masculinist. Feminist philosophers have reclaimed autonomy as a feminist value, while retaining its core ideal as self-government, by reconceptualizing it as “relational autonomy.” This article examines whether feminist theories of relational autonomy can adequately illuminate the agency of Islamist women who defend their nonliberal religious values and practices and assiduously attempt to enact them in their daily lives. I focus on two notable feminist theories of relational autonomy advanced by Marina Oshana and Andrea Westlund and apply them to the case of Women's Mosque Movement participants in Egypt. I argue that feminist conceptions of relational autonomy, centered around the ideal of self-government, cannot elucidate the agency of Women's Mosque Movement participants whose normative ideal involves perfecting their moral capacity.
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First archival date: 2018-05-19
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