The introduction asks how individuals and communities respond to transnational activism that pits international norms against local norms. It highlights the theoretical significance of research on norm change among nonstate actors and the substantive significance of research on the practices of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage. In addition, this chapter provides an overview of the argument and describes and justifies the research design (including issue selection, case selection, and research methods). It defines keyterms—norms, FGM, early marriage—and discusses conceptual and practical issues associated with these definitions. It further describes variation in the practice of FGM and early marriage worldwide, as well as the evolution of transnational activism against them.
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