cover image What Kind of Liberation?: Women and the Occupation of Iraq

What Kind of Liberation?: Women and the Occupation of Iraq

Nadje Al-Ali, Nicola Pratt, , foreword by Cynthia Enloe. . Univ. of California, $24.95 (252pp) ISBN 978-0-520-25729-0

Al-Ali and Pratt’s examination of women in postinvasion Iraq argues that the invasion has undermined women’s rights, as the nationalist movement supersedes the women’s movement, as heightened security risk forces many women into their homes. Aside from physical danger, gender studies scholar Al-Ali and foreign relations expert Pratt deftly illustrate cultural resistance to women’s freedom: for instance, Iraqi women are viewed as “custodians and transmitters of national culture” rather than as actors on the political stage, and as rhetorical pawns, with military invasion justified as a means of protecting them. The authors make overgeneralized statements—e.g., “militarism at home contributes to reproducing social inequalities in countries that are a target of military intervention”—rooted in assumptions not all readers will share (“military intervention is a tool of U.S. empire building”). The authors also sometimes assume knowledge of treaties, events and organizations many readers won’t be familiar with, such as the Algiers Agreement of 1975. Still, the book thoroughly exposes the disparities between the talk of politicos and the situation of Iraqi women—a timely addition to scholarship on Iraq. (Jan.)