Comparative Studies on Muslim Societies

Kevin Dwyer, Author University of California Press $50 (350p) ISBN 978-0-520-07490-3
An anthropologist and former head of Amnesty International's Middle East section, Dwyer ( Moroccan Dialogues ) spent six years researching the conceptions and praxis of human rights in three Islamic nations--Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Drawing heavily on interviews, Dwyer presents these countries mired in a pervasive crisis brought on by modernization under which, while there may be broad agreement among elites as to the value of human rights, there is no consensus as to what those rights should be or how individual rights should be balanced against societal interests. Yet ultimately the author fails in his aim of understanding ``Middle Eastern notions of human rights.'' As Dwyer himself admits, the three nations examined, each with strong ties to the West, are not representative of Islam as a whole. More serious is his decision to limit his contacts to intellectuals. Educated, and to varying degrees Westernized, these individuals present a skewed perspective on societies where, as one Moroccan sociology student said,p. 123 among the common people, ``you don't even hear the word `freedom' expressed.'' (July)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-0-520-07491-0
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