Fatema Mernissi (1940-2015)

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Sad news this: Fatema Mernissi was a major voice for women inthe Maghreb over the years — I found that her books were also very useful to wake up my American students. Her memoir Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood is a must read.

Born in 1940, in Fes, Mernissi was celebrated for her sociology. Her most popular works included Beyond the Veil, The Veil and the Male Elite, and Islam and Democracy.

Mernissi was mainly a scholar, studying political science at the Sorbonne and doing her doctorate in sociology at Brandeis University. She later taught in the field of sociology at Rabat’s Mohammed V University.

But Mernissi was also a gifted writer, and her works, both scholarly and memoir, were accessible to a wide public. On writing, she once said: “Writing is one of the most ancient forms of prayer. To write is to believe communication is possible that other people are good, that you can awaken their generosity and their desire to do better.”

Mernissi won numerous awards for her work. In 2003, Mernissi was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award along with Susan Sontag.

You can find more about her work at her website, http://www.mernissi.net/. There are also manyremembrances on Twitter. A selection:

Moroccan writer and scholar Fatema Mernissi, author of the acclaimed memoir Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood, has died at 75:

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