The Brotherhood of Freemason Sisters: Gender, Secrecy, and Fraternity in Italian Masonic Lodges by Lilith Mahmud.
Author(s)Jones, Graham M.
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Profound paradoxes motivate Lilith Mahmud’s singular ethnography of Italian Freemason women: although the Enlightenment’s core democratic values of liberty, equality, and fraternity in many ways originated within Euro-American Freemasonry, most Italians suspect present-day Freemasons of involvement in nefarious antidemocratic conspiracies. Moreover, Freemasons’ marginalization of women betrays how deep-rooted exclusivity compromises their guiding principle of universal brotherhood. It is among the social networks of women who nevertheless gravitate to Freemasonry’s official auxiliary societies and to mixed-gender or women-only lodges not sanctioned by Freemasonry’s paramount governing body that Mahmud conducts a form of ethnography she terms “profane”—mostly (but not always) outside sacred ritual spaces. In describing how these women style themselves as “brothers” and aspire to enact fraternity as a genderless value, Mahmud casts light on the broader tradition of European liberal humanism and its limitations.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Anthropology Program
John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Jones, Graham M. Review of “The Brotherhood of Freemason Sisters: Gender, Secrecy, and Fraternity in Italian Masonic Lodges by Lilith Mahmud.” American Anthropologist 116, no. 4 (November 26, 2014): 879–880.
Final published version