Ousseina Alidou, Engaging modernity: Muslim women and the politics of agency in postcolonial Niger. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005. Pp. xxi, 235. Hb. $45.00.
Challenging conventional discourse about African Muslim women as passive victims of religious, ethnic, economic, and cultural oppression, Alidou analyzes the lives and discourse of three prominent women of Niger. She focuses on these women's agency, understood as a capacity to realize one's aspirations in spite of obstacles. More broadly, she discusses the meaning of modernity for Muslim women in Niger today. Alidou is self-reflexive as she incorporates her own voice in the study – the voice of a Muslim female linguist and cultural critic from Niger who now resides and teaches in the United States. The book's qualitative data comprise Niger-based participant observations, interviews, and literary texts (poems, songs, fairytale). A chapter on Niger's political economy of education is supplemented with quantitative sociological data on educational achievement.
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