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EWIC Reviews- Masuchika

Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures

Reviewed by: Glenn Masuchika

Review of Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures: Vol. 1: Methodologies, Paradigms and Sources
Published by: American Reference Books Annual (March 2005)
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It is always gratifying to witness the beginnings of a great project. The Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures (EWIC) is an "interdisciplinary, transhistorical, and global project " (p. xxi) that bring together, when finally completed in five volumes, a systematic collection of critical essays on Muslim and non-Muslim women, living in Islamic cultures in every region where there have been significant Muslim populations, politically or culturally organized . This first volume divides the major topic methodologies, paradigms and sources into two categories: thematic entries and disciplinary entries. The thematic entries are essays that are historical and geographical in nature and are weighed more in relaying historical fact than in discussing the various prevalent historical methodologies used by scholars. This is not a weakness as they are invitations for further study. These entries are mostly historic narratives, although they also include literary and legal topics. The disciplinary entries include such established genres as anthropology, art and architecture, demography, economics, folklore, geography, and more. By their nature, it would be impossible for any scholar to report extensively on women and their assigned subject in the three to five pages allotted to their essays; however, they do serve as well-written introductions and first source materials. The treasure on this first volume is a bibliography of books and articles in European languages written since 1993. This list takes up a full third of the book. It is compiled by G.J. Roper, C.H. Bleaney, and V. Shepard. It is gratifying that the editors have placed a bibliography in so prominent a position in their first volume, a clear indication that they do not consider their monumental task the final contemporary word in feminist and Muslim studies, but perhaps only a good, steady launching pad for future research. This first volume will be a welcome addition to any public library and an essential addition to academic libraries, especially those focusing on world religions, women's studies, and the social sciences.

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