The Making of Postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco

To explain women's status in the Middle East, most scholars rely on variables such as
patriarchy, social class, culture, ideology, and religion. This book represents the first
effort to break with this tradition by relating women's rights to the political process of
state formation and the integration of tribal groups into national processes. In a
pathbreaking analysis, Charrad (sociology, Univ. of Texas) demonstrates the delicate
historical relationships between family laws, women's rights, state formation, and kinship
systems. Through a comparative historical analysis, she explains the evolution, as well as
the outcome, of family law reforms in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. In Morocco, the
coalition between palace and tribe after independence made reforms in family laws
unlikely, resulting in preservation of the Islamic family laws. The partial dependence of
the Algerian state on tribal kin groups created a two-decade long gridlock, finally
resulting in adoption of conservative laws. State autonomy from tribes and kin groups in
Tunisia made it possible for the state to promulgate a radical family law in 1956,
instituting the most liberal women's rights in any Islamic country. This book is a
welcome addition to a crowded field in need of new directions. Upper-division
undergraduates and above. -- A. Mahdi, Ohio Wesleyan University