UO Anthropology Professor Does Research on the Lives of Women in Bangladesh
On a recent visit to Bangladesh, Lamia Karim sat in the midst of a group of women whose faces and bodies had been scarred by acid and saw not so much the horror and ugliness of the violence they had experienced, but the beauty and hope in their response. “They meet regularly with one another to share meals and stories about their lives,” she explains. “They sing and dance—and this is their way of healing.”
Among those in the group is a nine-year-old girl whose father doused her with acid when she was born, expressing his anger at not being given a son.
An associate professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon, Karim describes her research as shaped by the experiences of women who cope with discrimination, violence and exploitation in a globalizing and postcolonial world. What keeps her engaged with feminist research is the human spirit of the women to reclaim their lives against all adversities, she says.
Karim is the new associate director of the Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University of Oregon. One of the founding members of the CSWS Women of Color Project, she currently serves as its co-coordinator. Appointed recently to the associate director post by the CSWS Executive Committee, Karim will begin her term in September 2010.
In nominating Karim for the position, CSWS executive committee member Lynn Stephen, distinguished professor of anthropology, said this: “She is doing cutting-edge research in the international arena on women and microcredit, women and Islam and Islamic nationalism, and the challenges and opportunities found in the interface of human rights discourses, South Asian feminisms, and Islam. In addition to her scholarly contributions, she is an excellent strategic thinker, and a tireless worker and organizer.”
Stephen described Karim’s upcoming book, Microfinance and Its Discontents: Women in Debt in Bangladesh (University of Minnesota Press, Fall 2010), as “highly original and path-breaking” and said her “bold and original analysis in this book has put her on the intellectual map and is characteristic of her intellectual creativity.”
Karim is currently engaged in two areas of research focused on her native Bangladesh:
- religious organizing of women belonging to a pietist movement
- acid-violence-survivor women who heal themselves through music.