Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Dean of Faculty, Social Sciences, Bucknell University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1998
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign
Being Mandinga, Being Muslim: Transnational Debates on Personhood and Religious Identity in Guinea-Bissau and Portugal

In my planned dissertation research, I will explore local views surrounding the global excision debate among the Mandinga of Guinea-Bissau. Among the Mandinga, excision is best understood when examined within the overarching ritual of girls' initiation. Whereas initiation has most commonly been understood as a rite of passage transforming young girls into adult women, in the Mandinga context initiation and excision are instead linked to the construction and transformation of personhood in general and Islamic identity in particular. Accordingly, I will examine how initiation rituals--including the practice of excision--are changing both independently of and in response to global campaigns against excision in both rural and urban contexts. What new insight does the Mandinga case bring to the understanding of women's status and human rights? My study should shed light on the global debate surrounding excision practices as currently understood in other areas of Africa and the Middle East.