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Empathy and Rage: Female Genital Mutilation in African Literature

Tobe Levin and Augustine H. Asaah, editors
Empathy and Rage: Female Genital Mutilation in African Literature
ISBN: 978-0-9555079-4-6
2009/218 pages
Distributed for Ayebia Clarke Publishing

"A pioneering study accessible to anyone interested in the subject."—Ingrid Schittich, Feminist Europa: Review of Books

"Timely and provocative.... The contributions empathize with the victims of FGM and show their rage toward the perpetrators of this violent act.... They have apprehended the practice in a visceral way, with freshness and innovation."—Ayo Kehinde, African Studies Review

"A thorough discussion and education on the subject of female circumcision—whether driven by rage, empathy, or engagement—is important. By focusing on creative writing as the site of discussion, this book provides a multifaceted education. A must read."—Ngugi wa Thiong'o

"An important collection on an important subject that some misguided cultural nationalists would rather keep wrapped under the silences and perversions of tradition.... It derives its freshness and power from its excavation of representations in the works of African and Diasporan writers."—Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, University of Illinois at Chicago


This pioneering collection discusses representations of female genital mutilation as a theme in literary art. The contributors—both scholars and activists—join together to analyze African and African American literature in the context of the debate between those who see FGM as a time-honored tradition and those who recognize it as an egregious human rights abuse.


Tobe Levin is professor of English and women's studies at the University of Maryland, University College Europe. Augustine H. Asaah is associate professor of modern languages at the University of Ghana, where he pioneered research into African feminist literature and gender-based violence in African fiction.


  • Assaults on Female Genitalia: Activists, Authors, and the Arts—T. Levin.
  • From Women's Rite to Human Rights Issue: Literary Explorations of Female Genital Excision since Facing Mount Kenya (1938)—E. Bekers.
  • Oppositional Approaches to FGM in African Literature—S. Bishop.
  • Going Home Again: Diaspora, FGM, and Kinship in Warrior Marks—T.L. Cage.
  • "Mother" as a Verb: The Erotic, Audre Lorde, and FGM—J. Browdy de Hernandez.
  • Female Genital Mutilation: Ambivalence, Indictment and Commitment in Sub-Saharan African Fiction—A.H. Asaah.
  • The Anti-Female FGM Novel in Public Education: An Example from Ghana—A.V. Adams.
  • What Is Wrong with Mariam? Gloria Naylor's Infibulated Jew—T. Levin.
  • Somali Womanhood: A Re-visioning—M. Sarkis.
  • Excision and African Literature: An Activist Annotated Bibliographical Excursion—P. Herzberger-Fofana.
  • Who's Afraid of Female Sexuality?—M. Mathai.
  • Tränen im Sand/Desert Tears (excerpts)—N. Abdi and L.G. Linder.

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