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EWIC Reviews- Iaccarino

Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures

Reviewed By: Trish Iaccarino

Review of Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures: Volume 3: Family, Body, Sexuality, and Health.
Published by: Feminist Collections (Summer 2006)

In this third volume of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, Suad Joseph and her editorial associates have assembled 196 artides on 56 topics pertaining to himily, body, sexuality, and health. Articles are arranged alphabetically by subject and, within each subject section, by country or region of focus. Bibliographies follow each article.

The scope is impressively wide-ranging: sections include such diverse topics as food preparation, health practices, sexual harassment, suicide, disabilities, marriage practices, and sports. Regions and countries of focus include the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, North America, Turkey, Central Asia, Caucasus, Australia, New Zealand, and western Europe; however, Muslim-dominant countries and regions receive the most thorough coverage.

"Scholars and Scholarship," a large section on the 1030 dissertations published between 1950 and 2002 on topics pertaining to women and Islamic cultures, is included at the back of the volume. Complete citations are listed under the geographic area of focus, and various analyses of data - number of dissertations by gender and year, by gender and broad subject area, and by institution - are presented in table format.

The volume contains both subject and name indexes. In addition to the names of individuals and organizations cited within articles, the hitter features the names of countries and regions with subjects indexed beneath each geographic entry.

Gaps and inconsistencies are apparent throughout the work, but this is almost certainly due to gaps and inconsistencies in research and/or the lack of appropriate article submissions rather than any lack of oversight by the editorial staff. For example, there are articles about marriage practices from almost every geographic region the encyclopedia covers, but only two articles are included on the subject of disabilities (one pertaining to the Arab States, the other to South Asia), and only a broad overview appears on the subject of incest.

There is some cross-referencing within sections and within the index, but more would be helpful. For example, there are snippets of information on lesbianism in several articles (e.g., "Sexualities: Practices, Sexualities," "Scientific Discourses-Modern," and "Sexualities: Transexualities"), but no cross- referencing between articles and no crossreferences between lesbianism and homosexuality in the subject index.

Author information is not cited with the articles, but contributors and their affiliated institutions are listed in the front of the volume. More complete author credentials alongside the respective articles would have been helpful.

The gaps may be a bit frustrating to some researchers; on the other hand, this ambitious work includes much information that would be difficult to find elsewhere. In addition to serving as a valuable reference tool for the scholarly community, this would be a particularly helpful resource for general readers and for undergraduates wanting a broad introduction to subjects pertaining to women and Islam. It is accessible and engaging, and it provides an enormous wealth of materials on a wide variety of topics. In addition, it provides useful bibliographic information to point users to further information and sources.-Trish Iaccarino

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