Fatema Mernissi (Erasmus Prize 2004)
|Native name||Arabic: فاطمة مرنيسي|
|Born||27 September 1940|
|Died|| 30 November 2015 75) (aged|
|Alma mater|| University of Paris |
|Notable awards||Prince of Asturias Awards|
|Criticism and awards|
Fatema Mernissi (Arabic : فاطمة مرنيسي; 27 September 1940 – 30 November 2015) was a Moroccan feminist writer and sociologist.
Fatema Mernissi was born in Fez, Morocco. She grew up in the harem of her affluent paternal grandmother along with various female kin and servants.She received her primary education in a school established by the nationalist movement, and secondary level education in an all-girls school funded by the French protectorate. In 1957, she studied political science at the Sorbonne and at Brandeis University, gaining her doctorate there. She returned to work at the Mohammed V University and taught at the Faculté des Lettres between 1974 and 1981 on subjects such as methodology, family sociology and psychosociology. She became known internationally mainly as an Islamic feminist.
Mernissi was a lecturer at the Mohammed V University of Rabat and a research scholar at the University Institute for Scientific Research, in the same city.She died in Rabat on 30 November 2015.
As an Islamic feminist, Mernissi was largely concerned with Islam and women's roles in it, analyzing the historical development of Islamic thought and its modern manifestation. Through a detailed investigation of the nature of the succession to Muhammad, she cast doubt on the validity of some of the hadith (sayings and traditions attributed to him), and therefore the subordination of women that she sees in Islam, but not necessarily in the Qur'an.She wrote extensively about life within harems, gender, and public and private spheres.
As a sociologist, Mernissi mainly did field work in Morocco. On several occasions in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she conducted interviews in order to map prevailing attitudes to women and work. She did sociological research for UNESCO and ILO as well as for the Moroccan authorities.In the same period, Mernissi contributed articles to periodicals and other publications on women in Morocco and women and Islam from a contemporary as well as from a historical perspective. Her work has been cited as an inspiration by other Muslim feminists, such as those who founded Musawah.
In 2003, Mernissi was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award along with Susan Sontag.In 2004 she was awarded the Erasmus Prize, alongside Sadik Al-Asm and Abdolkarim Soroush.
Mernissi’s first monograph, Beyond the Veil, was published in 1975.A revised edition was published in Britain in 1985 and in the US in 1987. Beyond the Veil has become a classic, especially in the fields of anthropology and sociology on women in the Arab World, the Mediterranean area or Muslim societies in general.
Her most famous book, as an Islamic feminist, The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Islam, is a quasi-historical study of role of the wives of Muhammad. It was first published in French in 1987, and translated into English in 1991. The book was banned in Morocco, Iran, and Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
For Doing Daily Battle: Interviews with Moroccan Women (1991), she interviewed peasant women, women labourers, clairvoyants and maidservants. In 1994, Mernissi published a memoir, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood (in the US, the book was originally titled The Harem Within: Tales of a Moroccan Girlhood, and is still known by that title in the UK).
She contributed the piece "The merchant's daughter and the son of the sultan" to the anthology Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology (1984), edited by Robin Morgan.
Edited by Mernissi: