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Rights, Religion, and Community: Approaches to Violence Against Women in the Context of Globalization

Merry, Sally Engle
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) Law & Society Review 35(1)

Within the burgeoning global discourse on human rights, gender violence provides one of the most important examples of the use of rights to tackle a newly defined social problem. A comparison of three quite different approaches to violence against women in a single town, each of which is rooted in a global movement, reveals sharp differences in the way the problem is defined and the solutions are imagined. One approach focuses on the assertion of rights and relies on a feminist analysis of patriarchy, another on prayer and the elimination of enemy forces within a framework of Pentecostal Christianity, and one on repentance and reconciliation within the framework of the family and the community. Despite these differences, however, all three employ similar technologies of the self, focusing on knowing feelings, making choices, and building self-esteem. This article demonstrates how globalization allows differences on the basis of religion and culture while promoting similarities in techniques of fashioning the self, thus promoting modern subjectivity in the midst of difference.


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