Bodies in Contact- Joan Scott
Analysis Paper -2
Global History- Barclay
The second section of “Bodies in Contact” by Joan Scott, deals with the theme “Global Empires, Local Encounters.” In this section there are many articles that observe the effects that women have had on the development of societal structures that we see today. These social structures are a direct result from Eurocentric colonial laws and government practices that were instilled into everyday aspects of indigenous people’s lives and, I will examine the articles by Mary Fay, Lucy Murphy, Mrinalini Sinha, and Heidi Gengenbach that point out gender systems as the relevance in these societal structures specifically in the suppression of women. This analysis of world history based on male/female gender roles differed from those established through the dominant Eurocentric approach that came from many local encounters through European expeditions. The first article that really highlights the idea of Euro centrism and Europeans ability to classifiy a group of people as being different therefore inferior to them is Mrinalini Sinha’s article which looks at British sexism and racism through the examination of the men's clubs established in colonial India. "A privileged site for mediating the contradictory logic of Euro centrism in the creation of a distinctive colonial public sphere" (Sinha, p. 184). This statement shows how British colonizers used gender as a way of “othering” not only different classes of people but oppressing the gender structure as well within Indian society. These clubs established an Elite group of white men. This establishment is another great example of how social structures in native societies have changed directly from the result of Eurocentric colonial laws and government practices. This is because new arrived white males had to establish themselves as dominate over the territory in which they came in contact with. With these clubs being formed and looked at as a symbol of British imperialism the natives of that society inevitably must have looked at those clubs as superior in nature, therefore disregarding their own social structure (Sinha,185,186). It is interesting however that within these clubs even white women are initially left out later to be included in an effort to protect them from native men. This is interesting because European colonizers were so exclusion conscious that they were willing to oppress women in their own race in order to establish dominancy. The next article that I looked at shows how colonial law did not blend well with the gender system that had existed in already established Egyptian societies. Mary Ann Fay's article on “Women, Property, and Power looks at the history of a female ex-slave from Cairo, Egypt named Shawikar. In the article Fay’s follow of this women’s life history she shows how the Ottoman construction of gender and citizenship. This is done by looking specifically at her economic status along with her personal life. Fay finds out that this woman lived in a society in which women of all classes were given the legal right to own property. Their ownership, inheritance, and management of property came from a verse in the holy Qur’an, which highlights the rule of ownership giving both male and female legal rights to maintain property. (“Bodies in Contact”, Scott, Mary Fay, pg.125-127). This, is a excellent example of the advantages women had in early modern Islamic societies prior till European colonialism where women’s rights on property under Islamic law exercised since the seventh century were not granted in Great Britain, the United states, or Canada until the mid –nineteenth century.(Fay,127) Fay also shows how not only was the elite status of women was achieved by Islamic law and their ability to own property, but their household politics as well. The importance of marriage alliances was pivotal to the reproduction of power within the society which enhanced...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document