Lila Abu-Lughod and Anumpama Rao—editors of Women’s Rights, Muslim Family Law, and the Politics of Consent, a special issue of SocialDifference-Online—sat down for a conversation with the editors of Jadaliyya. In the conversation, the editors discuss their motivations for conducting this project and the impact that they hope it will bring about:

These are papers that question conventional wisdom, trace little known histories, and uncover in sympathetic detail the cases of actual women going through legal systems looking for redress against violations, escapes from bad marriages, and better lives. They provide evidence that the liberal assumptions of many feminists and rights advocates are as flawed as the pernicious prejudices of those who generalize about and condemn Islamic law or family law without understanding its histories and workings in courts and families and communities. So it is not just scholars of the Middle East, South Asia, or Southeast Asia who will find these exciting, but anyone thinking about Muslim Personal Status Law and the “Sharia Question.” This publication proves the value of legal anthropology and history for understanding contemporary issues of Muslim women’s rights.

The papers focus on five individual themes: Marriage, Consent, Contract; Everyday Practices and Violations of Consent; Religion, State, and Social Difference: Whose Law?; Personal Status Law Reform—The Way Forward?; and The International Politics of Consent.

You can read the full text of the interview here and access the special issue here.