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On Cultural Relativism: Forced Marriage and 'Honor' Killings in London, UK

On Cultural Relativism: Forced Marriage and 'Honor' Killings in London, UK
170 St. George Street, JHB Room 100
Time: Oct 12th, 4:00 pm End: Oct 12th, 5:30 pm
Interest Categories: Women/Gender, Women & Gender Studies (FAS), Religion, Study of (FAS), Islamic Studies, Diaspora/Transnational, 2000-
Talk by Lalaie Ameeriar, UC Santa Barbara

The Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies presents

Professor Lalaie Ameeriar, University of California, Santa Barbara

On Cultural Relativism: Forced Marriage and ‘Honor’ Killings in London, UK

This talk concerns the mobilization of the term “cultural relativism” or the work that cultural relativism does as rhetoric concerning forced marriage and “honor abuse” and “honor killings” within predominantly Muslim communities in the United Kingdom. The most often cited reasons in my fieldwork for the legal lack of effectiveness, repeated by charity workers, police officers, and policy makers, was cultural relativism. Cultural relativism emerged in part as a response to Western ethnocentrism that sought to compare seemingly barbaric cultural practices in other contexts to a seemingly enlightened West. In multicultural Britain, cultural relativism has taken on a life of its own, to say that all cultural practices are separate but equal, equating it with a kind of moral relativism. In this case, this thing called culture encompasses, excuses, and explains violence against women as “cultural” and is defined by a range of people both within diasporic Muslim communities but also white British police officers, judges, teachers, and women themselves, who also participate in this definitional work. These kinds of cases bring to light the limits of toleration, and the role of the state in adjudicating not only crime, but culture.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, contact the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at 416 946 8464.


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