The University of Wisconsin Press

Language and Linguistics / African Studies / Women's Studies / Islamic Studies


Engaging Modernity
Muslim Women and the Politics of Agency in Postcolonial Niger
Ousseina Alidou

Women in Africa and the Diaspora
Stanlie James and Aili Mari Tripp, Series Editors

“Illustrates the complex interplay of gender, Islam, and modernity in Niger and the way that women manage to negotiate their way in a society with a strong patriarchal tradition. . . . Highly recommended.”

Seizing the space opened by the early 1990s democratization movement, Muslim women are carving an active, influential, but often-overlooked role for themselves during a time of great change. Engaging Modernity provides a compelling portrait of Muslim women in Niger as they confronted the challenges and opportunities of the late twentieth century.

“Linguist and cultural critic Ousseina Alidou transforms the grounds of debate over modernity, gender, and Islam not only in Africa but across the globe. Her elegant and eminently readable book undermines assumptions of women ruled by ethnicity, passivity, and religious affiliation, casting light instead on women’s activism in Niger and the challenge it poses to the ethnicization of politics and identity. Placing the social biographies of three very different women in dialogue with her own experience as a female intellectual from Niger in the United States, Alidou changes how we think about contemporary Muslim women.”
—Barbara Cooper, Rutgers University

Ousseina Alidou is associate professor in the Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature, affiliate of the graduate faculty of the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, and director of the Program in African Languages and Literatures. She is coeditor of A Thousand Flowers and Postconflict Reconstruction in Africa and is author of many articles on African linguistics, literature, and women’s studies.

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cover of the Alidou is white and sand, with an inset photo of a Muslim woman in a blue covering reading a book

First Paperback Edition
September 2011

LC: 2005005434 HQ
260 pp. 6 x 9 10 b/w photos

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ISBN 978-0-299-21214-8
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ISBN 978-0-299-21213-1
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Updated June 8, 2011

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