Negotiating intersecting forms of oppression : female genital cutting (FGC) and cultural change after migration

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Global instabilities, the resulting international displacement and rising inter-cultural tensions within Western societies have relocated gendered cultural practices at the heart of contemporary debates on multiculturalism, social cohesion and migration. In this context, female genital cutting (FGC) has re-emerged as a symbol of savagery, Otherness and global violations of women’s rights. While the increasing attention given to these practices is a testament to reinvigorated feminist activism, FGC has also been harnessed for the purposes of reproducing colonial discourses about the “Third World”, which have been integral to the revival of assimilationist policies and the creation of the “Fortress Europe”. This thesis contributes to new knowledge by illuminating how cultural change and FGC-affected women’s experiences of trauma are shaped by state policies on asylum, migrant incorporation and cultural diversity. In locating inclusion, co-production and power as core issues in both anti-FGC activism and research in this area, I utilised a participatory approach through recruiting a Community Advisory Board made up of FGC-affected women who informed the different stages of the research process. The findings presented in this thesis are based on thematic and narrative analysis of qualitative data from in-depth interviews, focus groups and feminist zine-making with 12 FGC-affected women and 34 participants from communities and organisations working with African and Middle Eastern migrants in Scotland. By tracing migrant women’s experiences of departure, displacement and resettlement, this thesis demonstrates the intersecting social, cultural, political and economic conditions which sustain women’s continuums of violence before and after migration. The findings illustrate how the collision of anti-FGC and anti-immigration discourses creates barriers for women to remake their lives after violence and displacement. I illuminate how these discourses materialise to perpetuate further trauma and to constrain women’s spaces for action to challenge FGC and other forms of gender-based violence within their communities.
Date of Award21 Sept 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorDaniela Sime (Supervisor) & Melanie McCarry (Supervisor)

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