Two weeks ago class was cancelled while I was in Washington, DC for the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. The antropologi.info is running a series of posts summarizing a few of the hundreds of sessions that took place at the AAA. The latest post features a debate at AAA over female genital cutting:

Is female circumcision violence against women or a feminist act? Are critics of this practice guilty of cultural imperialism? Those questions were debated at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in Washington – among others by African anthropologists who have undergone the procedure themselves.

I didn’t see the original session, so I don’t know all the details. But it has been getting lots of coverage, including a feature in two posts (1, 2) by New York Times blogger John Tierney. In the second post, Tierney reproduces a detailed response to a reader’s question from University of Chicago anthropologist Richard Shweder.

Several of you wrote about female circumcision in your research papers. What’s your take on the discussion in the blogosphere, based on your research in writing the paper? Would you change anything about your paper, based on the issues Shweder raises? How does the issue of female circumcision relate to the concepts of cultural relativism and ethnocentrism?