An interview with Fuambai S. Ahmadu by Richard A. Shweder This interview on the subject of female genital cutting serves to contextualize a submission by Carlos D. Londoño Sulkin, who describes the changes of perception he and other members of the audience experienced after a lecture by Fuambai Ahmadu on this subject at the University of Regina on 19 March 2009. The title Fuambai S. Ahmadu and Richard A. Shweder
Fuambai Ahmadu went back to her parents’ native Sierra Leone with her sister, Sunju Ahmadu, and other family members to undergo female initiation from December 1991 to January 1992. Ahmadu works for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland. After receiving her doctorate from the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics in 2005, she completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Department of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
of Ahmadu’s talk was ‘Disputing the myth of the sexual dysfunction of circumcised women’. In order to make sense of Londoño Sulkin’s reactions to her account, Fuambai Ahmadu was invited to set out her case, which she does in the form of a question-and-answer session with Richard Shweder. Ed. penis symbolizes femininity and is associated with female sexual organs, thus removal of the foreskin represents the masculinization of the boy. In parallel and complementary form the exposed clitoris represents the male sexual organ or penis and thus its removal symbolizes the feminization of the girl child and marks her adult sexual status. In men’s ceremonies, men identify and celebrate their differences from women; similarly women’s ceremonies elaborate, exaggerate and celebrate their differences from men, often ridiculing and belittling male sexuality and supposed social and sexual superiority. In Sierra Leone, women’s initiation is highly organized and hierarchical: the institution... [continues]
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