cover image Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict

Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict

David Jacobson. Johns Hopkins Univ., $24.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-4214-0754-8

University of South Florida sociologist Jacobson (Belonging in America) offers an ambitious analysis of the implications of globalism and cultural conflict on the battlefield of women’s bodies. Organized in five distinct parts, the book presents a strong argument that the “battles over defining the woman’s body and its control” are at the center of cultural conflict and misunderstandings between honor-based communities and those organized around “one’s own interests and a search for self-realization and ‘authenticity.’ ” Overwhelmingly, the author discusses honor societies in terms of their religious affiliation (Judaic, Christian, or Muslim), a choice that doesn’t account for the legacy of Greek society and other honor cultures that still influence the modern sociopolitical landscape. Likewise, the patriarchy of pre-Islamic and Islamic sects are presented as a foil to the values of globalization and the free market, obscuring current patriarchal tensions within free market cultures, as well as the agency of Muslim women. Jacobson is most successful in his careful discussion of pluralistic versus homogeneous societies and his hyper-relevant insight on the rise of fundamentalism as a response to Western imperialist values. Casual readers shouldn’t be dissuaded—Jacobson’s prose is accessible, and he has treated the complicated underpinnings of identity, cultural belonging, and economic motivations with respect. (Jan.)