The article by Njamabadi is an engagement on the state of women studies in the 21st Century. It takes an Islamic perspective as it carefully but strongly interrogates the challenges and hurdles faced by Muslim women as scholars as compared to their male counterparts. One of her concerns at the beginning of her article is the misconception she perceives to come from those who invite her to make a presentation at “The Politics of Interdisciplinary Location: Teaching and Learning Intersections” conference. It is clear from her arguments that her status as a Muslim woman makes it difficult for her to choose how to approach the situation at hand. She is appreciative when her topic of discussion is changed to one that she is comfortable with.
Njamabadi briefly touches on several complex issues that American Muslim women face on a day to day basis. It looks at how the questions raised within and beyond the study of religion from the perspective of an insider or outsider and their subsequent debates affect the way in which women scholars succeed in carving out a niche for themselves. She describes how the forceful ascription of Islamic identity to her by external forces affects her in a negative way. The ascribed identity is a direct conflict to how she perceives herself as a feminist (Njamabadi 72). This inscription is of concern to her. Although she identifies herself as a feminist, she is reluctant to identify herself as a Muslim (Njamabadi 70).
Njamabadi tries to address the shortcomings of identity categories. She argues that hybridization and multiplication of categories does not solve the problems at hand, rather it compounds them. In the article, she also states that her refusal to speak as a Muslim brands her as pro-Islam. Even a statement that indicates empathy to towards Islam gets interpreted as an action to defend Islam. She also refuses to speak against Islam which is also a problem from an Islamic perspective. However, she argues that those are risks that she has to take as a feminist (Njamabadi 77).
The article gives a critical perceptive on the value of discipline and its discussion on the issue is quite exhaustive. The article, Teaching and Research in Unavailable Intersections is an interesting composition that evokes one’s feeling of exploration and discovery of new approaches to the challenges faced under the scope of feminism. Considering the increased intensity towards women studies as a discipline, the article is true to its purpose and is a valuable contribution to feminist activism. Overall, this article seems to suggest that challenges and hurdles faced in the fields of Women's Studies may be opportunities for women to reinvent themselves and not a time to withdraw into the safety zone of 'the known.'
Njamabadi, Afsaneh. Women’s Studies on the Edge. Ed. Scott Joan Wallach. London: Duke