Sara R. Farris examines the demands for women's rights from an unlikely collection of right-wing nationalist political parties, neoliberals, and some feminist theorists and policy makers.
Focusing on contemporary France, Italy, and the Netherlands, Farris labels this exploitation and co-optation of feminist themes by anti-Islam and xenophobic campaigns as “femonationalism.” She shows that by characterizing Muslim males as dangerous to western societies and as oppressors of women, and by emphasizing the need to rescue Muslim and migrant women, these groups use gender equality to justify their racist rhetoric and policies.
This practice also serves an economic function. Farris analyzes how neoliberal civic integration policies and feminist groups funnel Muslim and non-western migrant women into the segregating domestic and caregiving industries, all the while claiming to promote their emancipation.
In the Name of Women's Rights documents the links between racism, feminism, and the ways in which non-western women are instrumentalized for a variety of political and economic purposes.
What People Are Saying
[Farris's] reading of 'femonationalism' as a symptom of neoliberal capitalism gives little hope that a quick or effective solution is possible for the crises at hand. So we are left without certain answers, and that’s as it should be." Joan W. Scott, The Nation
"The pertinence of Farris’s volume, especially in the development of immigration policies, is undeniable." Visnja Krstic, Cultural Sociology
"Brilliant. . . . Through [Farris's] careful analysis of the political economic dimensions of femonationalism, certain elements of our contemporary landscape are illuminated with startling and disturbing clarity." Catherine Rottenberg, Jadaliyya
"Farris’s book is a highly innovative and important contribution to the politics and economics of the representation of religiously labeled actors, that is, Muslim men and women." Annelies Moors, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"By proving the necessity to ground the comprehension of femonationalism in the global circuits of the gendered labor market of social reproduction, the book convincingly argues that 'confronting femonationalism thus requires not only ideological refutation but also a concrete analysis of its political-economic foundations.'" Jamila M. H. Mascat, Politics & Gender
"A brave monograph." Judith Whitehead, Monthly Review
"Femonationalism offers a powerful framework through which to understand the way in which Muslim and non-Western migrant women and their rights are used by different groups to further their own agendas or interests. By analysing the different areas of policy together we are better able to evaluate the extent to which the language of women’s rights is being co-opted by different political actors at the expense of all women." Farah Elahi, Runnymede Trust
"In the Name of Women’s Rights is a timely book with an impressive scope and rich theoretical diversity. . . . A must-read for anyone concerned with the appropriation of feminism or the operation of Islamophobia in contemporary Europe." Julie E. Dowsett, International Feminist Journal of Politics
"Welcome and invigorating." Peter Coviello, The Immanent Frame
“In the Name of Women’s Rights is an important and timely contribution to the fields of sociology, gender and women studies, and migration studies. Highly recommended." Maya El Helou, Refuge
"An incisive intervention in how we understand rescue narratives of Muslim and non-Western migrant men as perpetrators of violence against Muslim and non-Western migrant women. . . . An important contribution to a range of fields including but not limited to critical race theory, transnational studies, gender and sexuality studies, political science, and sociology." Sasha A. Khan, Feminist Formations
"A highly readable, insightful and alarming account of the deployment of a discourse of women’s rights by racist and nationalist movements in Europe. . . . This is a work that deserves to be widely read." Gargi Bhattacharyya, Ethnic and Racial Studies
"Farris’s book is comprehensive, thorough, and masterly in accomplishing her key objective, which is, to draw feminist attention toward a new political economic configuration in which neoliberal conditions, feminist politics of gender equality, and right-wing nationalism coalesce to sustain exploitative ideological and material relations between western and nonwestern women. It is indeed a timely and needed study of the political and ethical costs to feminism of the concurrence of civilizational politics and neoliberal economics and thus has applications beyond the European context." Amina Jamal, American Journal of Sociology
"Farris’ monograph provides a rich context of history, economic models, and social theorization, all of which support her fascinating discussion of femonationalism." Brandi Lewis, Human Rights Quarterly
“Farris’s attention to the economic roots of anti-Islam and anti-immigrant sentiment (in its complex, gendered reality as both fear and fetish) is the strongest contribution of In the Name of Women’s Rights…. Contributing to the growing literature on ‘neoliberalism’ as a comprehensive worldview that bridges seeming partisan divides, Farris’s book is also a necessary addition to studies of anti-Islam and anti-immigrant discourse, to the study of colonialism and its afterlives as well as to critical work on race, racialization, and representation…” Spencer Dew, Religious Studies Review
"How and why did the unlikely combination of right-wing political parties, some feminists, and neoliberal policy makers converge in campaigns for non-western (especially Muslim) migrant women’s rights? In this compelling and rigorous book, Sara R. Farris insists that political economy provides an answer: in the face of the privatizing of social welfare provisions, non-western migrant women perform an increasingly important strategic role in social reproduction through care and domestic labor. They have become a regular army of labor, indispensable for the workings of western European neoliberal capitalist economies. The range of empirical and theoretical materials is impressive and the relevance of the book to current debates about Islamophobia and the 'immigrant question' in western Europe is invaluable. Farris is a scholar to reckon with and appreciate." Joan W. Scott, Institute for Advanced Study
"In the Name of Women's Rights is an important and timely book. It lays out the hijacking of feminism by the 'unholy trinity' of far-right nationalism, certain prominent factions of feminism, and neoliberalism in the service of an anti-Islam agenda in France, Italy, and the Netherlands. Foregrounding the concept of 'femonationalism'—the ideological formation by which the West is always already superior to the Rest—Sara R. Farris draws on ongoing colonial knowledge formations." Gloria Wekker, author of White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
About the Author
Sara R. Farris is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the author of Max Weber's Theory of Personality: Individuation, Politics, and Orientalism in the Sociology of Religion.
Table of Contents
Introduction: In the Name of Women's Rights 1
1. Figures of Femonationalism 22
2. Femonationalism Is No Populism 57
3. Integration Policies and the Institutionalization of Femonationalism 78
4. Femonationalism, Neoliberalism, and Social Reproduction 115
5. The Political Economy of Femonationalism 146