Making the Mark
Gender, Identity, and Genital Cutting

By Miroslava Prazak

“Gritty ethnography at its best. Descriptively rich and insightful, it does an excellent job of helping readers gain an understanding of insider perspectives on the practice of female genital cutting, and the socially embedded context of these meanings.”

Bettina Shell-Duncan, coeditor of Transcultural Bodies: Female Genital Cutting in Global Context

“Although many books and articles have been published on this topic in the past two decades, Making the Mark contributes greatly to the literature on genital cutting. …An absolute must-read for those who wish to gain an understanding in the complexities of genital cutting in the social, political, and cultural life of Kuria people in Kenya.”

Africa at LSE

Why do female genital cutting practices persist? How does circumcision affect the rights of girls in a culture where initiation forms the lynchpin of the ritual cycle at the core of defining gender, identity, and social and political status? In Making the Mark, Miroslava Prazak follows the practice of female circumcision through the lives and activities of community members in a rural Kenyan farming society as they decide whether or not to participate in the tradition.

In an ethnography twenty years in the making, Prazak weaves multiple Kuria perspectives—those of girls, boys, family members, circumcisers, political and religious leaders—into a riveting account. Though many books have been published on the topic of genital cutting, this is one of the few ethnographies to give voice to evolving perspectives of practitioners, especially through a period of intense anticutting campaigning on the part of international NGOs, local activists, and donor organizations. Prazak also examines the cultural challenges that complicate the human-rights anti-FGM stance.

Set in the rolling hills of southwestern Kenya, Making the Mark examines the influences that shape and change female genital cutting over time, presenting a rich mosaic of the voices contributing to the debate over this life-altering ritual.

Miroslava Prazak is a scholar of economic development and cultural change in East Africa. Employing multidisciplinary research strategies, her work addresses globalization; inequality; social, health, and human rights issues; culturally based ways of knowing; gender-based violence; and politics of the body. She teaches anthropology and African studies at Bennington College.

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In Series

Research in International Studies, Africa Series, № 93

Related Subjects

Gender Studies · Anthropology · Women’s Studies · Cultural Anthropology · African Studies · Kenya



Retail price: $29.95, S.
Release date: Sep. 2016
32 illus. · 332 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights: World


Retail price: $80.00, S.
Release date: Sep. 2016
32 illus. · 332 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights: World


Release date: Sep. 2016
32 illus. · ≅ 332 pages
Rights: World