Elisabeth Trepesch, M.A.
Research Associate | PhD student (May 2019 - August 2019)
Key aspects of activity
- Medical Ethics in Islamic Law
|since May 2015||Research Fellow of Prof. Thomas Eich in the project “Islamrechtliche Diskussionen medizinethischer Fragen im Wandel: Das Beispiel der Frauenbeschneidung in Ägypten im 20. Jahrhundert”, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation|
|since October 2014||PhD Candidate in Islamic Studies, University of Hamburg|
|2012 – 2013||Project Coordinator, Freie Universität Berlin – Cairo Office|
|2011 – 2012||Programme Coordinator, Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS) – Egypt Office|
|2011||M.A. in Modern History, Islamic Studies and Cultural Anthropology, University of Tübingen|
|2008 – 2011||Research Assistant, Department of Modern History, University of Tübingen|
|2007 – 2008||Visiting Student at Cairo University|
|2004 – 2011||Study of Modern History, Islamic Studies and Cultural Anthropology, University of Tübingen|
Die Debatte über weibliche Genitalverstümmelung in ägyptischen Fatwas des 20. Jahrhunderts
Zeitschrift für Recht und Islam 8 (2016), S. 159-180
Medical Ethics in Islamic Law: The Debates about Female Genital Cutting in 20th century Egypt
Research Project supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation
The project will provide a comprehensive investigation of the Islamic legal debates on female genital cutting (FGC) in Egypt in historical perspective. It is based on the observation that, from the middle of the 20th century on, Egyptian Islamic scholars have increasingly turned away from the support of female circumcision that is characteristical for historical Islamic legal texts. The existing research has dealt with the religious discourse on FGC only in a limited way, often with an underlying static concept of Islamic law that provides a normative answer of whether or not female circumcision is an “Islamic” practice. It has not systematically linked the positions of Islamic authorities on FGC to the broader context in which they emerge, nor to their historical roots in the Islamic legal tradition.
The project advances the hypothesis that the shift in Egyptian Islamic scholars’ attitudes toward FGC is linked to the pluralization of the discourse on FGC in the course of the 20th century and its appropriation by the Egyptian government. These developments are presumably part of a shift in power relations that led to the increasing control of religious institutions by the Egyptian government and the growing importance of modern medicine in religious debates.
The project divides into three parts: First, it analyses the Islamic legal discourse on female circumcision in Egypt from the 1950s onwards. Specifically it investigates how Islamic legal scholars position themselves between traditions of Islamic law, medical research, human or women’s rights discourses and state law, and how this has changed in the course of the 20th century. Second, it examines the use of religious arguments for or against FGC in medical debates and their intersection with Islamic legal assumptions about FGC. Third, it analyses the impact of positions taken by Islamic authorities on the processes of negotiating and challenging legal norms on FGC in parliament and in court.
By combining these three dimensions, the project aims to get a clearer picture of the circumstances in which the Islamic scholars’ opinion on FGC has shifted towards accepting a ban of the practice, and to show what this shift actually entails. Moreover, it will help understand the dynamics that informed the legal and political debates on FGC in Egypt as well as the role that religious authorities played in these debates.