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'Beyond Circumspection'

African, Jewish, and Muslim Autobiographies Around Circumcision

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Abstract:

After briefly examining the discursive asymmetry in writings about excision and circumcision, I discuss four moments in the literary history of autobiographies around male circumcision: the seventeenth-century “confessions” from conversos in Spain and Portugal; two Kenyan ethno-autobiographies from the 1960s, Mugo Gatheru's Child of Two Worlds and Karari Njama's Mau Mau From Within; Jacques Derrida's Circumfession (1990); and French, Syrian-born Riad Sattouf's comic strip My Circumcision (2004). While establishing links between African and Jewish circumcision, I show that, whether African, Jewish or Muslim, these autobiographies delineate a move beyond circumspection.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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