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Posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on September 6, 2002 at 15:02:38:

I just got my letter of acceptance to give my paper at a conference on
Menstruation (linked below) next January! Whee!

That's good news and bad news .... I'm delighted with the honor, and
VERY happy that I can push henna research a little farther forward
into the academic body of discussion. The bad news is that I doubt if
I have enough time and resources to do both Southern California and
England in January. I think I'll need to speak to folks about the
Serious SoCal Henna Conference in terms of late 2003 or early 2004.
I'll post on the forum as soon as I have a date, place and things that
you can actually plan around. I hope to have firm information on
Serious Chicago end of March 2003 and Serious Atlanta May 2003 by Oct
1 so people can make arrangements..

Abstract for my paper on henna and menstruation is (Lord this is Word
Doc again so the punctuation may go flying all over the place):

Menstruation and Henna: Pollution and Purification
The Purification Role of Henna Use: Case Studies from North Africa,
the Middle East and Bangladesh


Catherine Cartwright Jones, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

In traditional Islam, a menstruating woman is vulnerable, weakened,
and polluted, therefore cannot pray, fast, or enter a mosque.
Intercourse with a menstruating woman is strictly forbidden. Islamic
tenets did not create these taboos; they reiterated pre-existing
Semitic traditions. Islamic menstrual taboos are based on a concept
of pollution/vulnerability versus purity/strength. For menstruating
women, the vulnerability derives from the Evil Eye, and a world
populated by Djinn, malevolent spirits irresistibly drawn to blood.
These evil forces cause disease, infertility, and tragedy.
Menstruating women are particularly prone to calamity due to these
destructive forces; therefore misfortune is ascribed to menstruating
women. Henna and running water, within this view of menarche,
purifies women at the end of the menstrual cycle, so she can resume
prayer, fasting and intercourse. Hennaed women are no longer
especially vulnerable to hazardous evil forces that bring about misery
to their families and communities.

This paper examines the menstrual and genital blood taboos and their
association with Djinn and the Evil Eye, offering examples from
Islamic North Africa, the Middle East and Bangladesh. It demonstrates
that these taboos are based on cultural justifications from medieval
Arab texts that defined menstrual pollution and henna?s purification
as a logical extension of Islamic theological and scientific thought.
I demonstrate that menstrual taboos offered a useful explanation of
disease and calamity, and define women?s position and sexual
expression in society according to oppositions of
pollution/vulnerability or purification/strength. I discuss the
impact of globalization on henna use and menstrual taboos during the
modern era, changed by western fashion and western explanations of
disease and catastrophe.

I don't recommend anyone plan to go to that conference unless you
really love academic conferences .... but if you're in Liverpool U
neighborhood then ..... shall we meet up for a beer? Graeham ...I
think you owe me a beer ....:-)

 


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