Ibn Battuta

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I. Race and Gender
A. Ibn Battuta’s Mali (1352)
B. Michel Montaigne’s Of Cannibals (1575)
C. Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz’s The Poet’s Answer to the Most Illustrious Sor Filotea De La Cruz (1691) D. Lady Mary Montague’s The Turkish Embassy Letters
E. Mary Wollstonecraft’s Chapter 13 from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

II. Explanation

A. The readings listed above are all pertinent to either race or gender. What sets these apart, though, is the overall tone of the authors. All of these readings are observations. Judgment is passed at times, but that is primarily due to the differences between the author’s own life and the way of life that he or she is describing. Race and gender is the first category of readings because it cannot be changed or altered, it simply is what it is. Ibn Battuta’s Mali best encompasses this category because of the genuine interest he had in his observations. He describes things about the people of Mali that are praiseworthy as well as things that he dislikes about their way of life, giving the entire work brilliant objectivity. Something that he praises about the culture is “the small number of acts of injustice that take place there [in Mali], for of all people, the Negroes abhor it [injustice] the most.” He also appreciates the religious customs of the culture and identifies with the importance of religion, but admires the dedication the people of Mali have to their God. Something that Battuta criticizes is that all women appear before men naked. “On the twenty-seventh night of the month of Ramadan, I saw about a hundred female slaves come out with the food for the sultan’s palace, and they were nude.” The failure of the women of Mali to be conservative bothers Battuta, but he still states everything as an observation rather than a judgment. Mali represents this category the best because, like Montagu and other authors, there is passion behind the writings but the author’s purpose is to state what was happening at the...
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