Yvonne Corcoran-Nantes offers a timely analysis into the lives of Muslim women in Central Asia during the Soviet era, and considers the impact of the shift from Soviet communism to Western capitalist ideals on gender relations in the region. The uneasy synthesis between socialism and Islam under the Soviet regime offered many women considerable status and personal freedom in public life but these gains have been rapidly eroded in the process of 'democratization'. Opportunities for women have entered into serious decline in terms of employment, education and socio-political status. Unlike many commentators, Corcoran-Nantes offers a convincing argument that the main threat to the socio-political status of women in Central Asia is not Islamic fundamentalism, but the imposition of free market principles and Western 'liberal democratic' ideals. Woven into the text is a also subtle and nuanced analysis of the ways in which Central Asian women negotiate feminism, whether ushered in by Soviet women during sovietization, or by western NGOs in the region today.
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