Fernea Guests of the Sheik notes



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Fernea - Guests of the Sheik - NOTES

- Guests of the Sheik background

-set in 1956-1958, mostly the year 1957

- ie. one year before a revolution, land reform, dismantling of the feudal system of landed sheiks

- El Nahra: mostly Shia, or Shi'ite

- Spelling details

- today the preferred spelling is "Muslim", not "Moslem"

- Arabic uses a different alphabet, so many Arabic words and names are written in multiple ways in the Latin alphabet –

- Diwaniya, Diwaniyah

- Abayah, abaya

- lid, eid, id, 'id (feast)

- Id al fitr, id el fitr, id ul fitr ... (feast at the end of Ramadan)

- And many more ...

- Maps


- Aerial views (why are the doors blue?)

- suq


- abayah

- dishdasha

- kaffiyeh (and agal)

- aba (cloak)

- mudhif

Introduction-

- "I am not an anthropologist" .... no?

- 1st two years of marriage to Robert (Bob) Femea, social anthropology grad student from University of Chicago

- Chapter 1, Night Journey: Arrival in the Village

- El Nahra

- Guests of Sheik Hamid Abdul Emir el Hussein, chief of the El Eshadda tribe

- Arrive at station in Diwaniya

- BJ is the only woman without an abayah

- "Why should I have to wear that ugly thing? It's not my custom"

- "They sayan uncovered woman is an immoral woman"

- "If they can't take me as I am - if we have to make artificial gestures to prove we are human beings too - what's the point?"

- "my principles were weakening before my embarrassment"

- "my principles were not as strong as my desire to be inconspicuous and well thought of in

my new home"

- Um Hassan = Mother of Hassan; Abu Hassan = Father of Hassan

- does this suggest anything about the importance of having children?

- culture shock - p. 10

- "I knew what I should do ... But I couldn't do it. I felt only a flood of irrational resentment

against my new husband for bringing me here ... "

- "I was still clutching the despised abayah tightly under my chin ... "

- p. 22, food details: "boiled potatoes, sliced tomatoes, and canned corned-beef hash with

fried eggs ... angel-food cake ... Nescafe ... "

- Mohammed is as uncomfortable ("scared") of her as she is of him p. 14

- cold, rainy

- high wall around the garden gives them complete privacy

- "doors painted blue, the color to ward off the evil eye" p 16

- Mohammed mortified that people might learn that he was washing dishes - woman's work

- BJ saves the "extra" lunch, instead ofleaving it for children, servants, etc; the man (Ali, the

sheik's gardener) who brought it assumes she ate it all- news travels! - they are observing her


- Chapter 2: The Sheik's Harem

- each of Hamid's 3 wives has own, separate block of rooms for her and her children

- notice the crescent and star flag ... and the crescents and stars on Selma's dress ... ?

- Kulthum and Selma refer to "Haji Hamid"

- A Haji (or Hajji) is someone who has made the haj (or hajj), a pilgrimage to Mecca

- Hamid's father: Abdul Emir, famous warrior against British-backed government, head of a

confederation of tribes

- Hamid inherited his position at Abdul Emir's death

- later we learn that succession was not simple

- rivalry with uncle Urthman (brother of Hamid's father) (p 118)

- Hamid's older brother Abdulla is second in command (p 126)

- various other brothers are more or less favored

- 3 day's hospitality at mudhif for any traveler

- strained silence - no common ground?

- Selma starts asking where clothes and jewelry came from (family or husband?, and costs

- lots of heavy gold: insurance

- Selma is wearing at least $1000 in gold, in 1957 dollars

- In 2006 dollars, that is at least $7,194

- Selma and Alwiyah eat with BJ when she insists (p. 34)

- Selma amused

- Alwiyah uncomfortable

- haranguing to eat more

- wives of Hamid: one deceased, now Kulthum (oldest), Bahiga, Selma

- "where is your mother?"

- they assume she is lonely without her mother

- "To be alone without any of one's womenfolk was clearly the greatest disaster which could befall any girl."

- Kulthum: "Children are gifts of Allah ... When you have children, you will not feel so alone without your mother"

- They don't wear the abayah in America ... "Why not?"

- Just as reasonable a question as ''why do they wear it in Iraq?"

- Bob assumes Selma is beautiful because Hamid gave 1500 pounds to her family when he married her

- "I couldn't help laughing at his male naivete."

- [why is this naive?]



Chapter 3: Women of the Tribe

- Mohammed (servant) is a Sayid, descendent of Mohammed (the Prophet)

- not members of EI Eshadda tribe

- but treated with respect, act as mediators

- in [mancial straits since 180 of their 200 acres were too salinized to farm

- BJ spends many evenings with them, conversation is relaxed and happy

- She is making friends and contacts already

- sister Sherifa: abandoned by husband

- "neither widow, virgin, nor divorcee, and hence had no future"

- "kept chickens and sold eggs; she raised lambs in the spring and sold the meat and wool. She helped keep her family alive."

- Fadhila, wife of Mohammed's older brother

- "had no chi1dren .. .it was always the wife who was at fault in these matters ... was judged inadequate as a woman and as a wife."

- Ali and Sheddir want to marry off their son and daughter

- paternal first-cousin marriage is preferred (p. 44)

- ideal: marry father's brother's child

- payment: groom's father to bride's parents

- if brothers exchange children in marriage, saves bride price

- visits strain hosts' resources


Chapter 4: Women of the Town

- Old pontoon bridge at mosque replaced by American engineer

- "Point Four" engineer: Point Four was a foreign technical assistance program run by the

US during the 1950s to encourage less developed countries to side with the US and not with the USSR

- a new, modem bridge

- build to cement bridge - hard to get onto from dirt road

- at village center, joining taxi stand and coffee shops

- now women can't cross without being observed; crossing to the suq or to visit now a major foray

- women now went out much less

- Aliyah started school for girls, won trust, got good enrollment

- in part by having common acquaintances among teachers in Diwaniya

- her younger sister, Hind

- Sitt Aliyah: Sitt a tenn of respect for educated woman

-Abu Saad (mayor) educated, rational, but can't overcome family history and allow his wife Urn Saad to go without the abayah

-A good woman, in tribe or town:

- reputation for fidelity unreproachable

- hard-working

- devoted wife and mother

- good cook and housekeeper

- quiet, obedient companion to her husband

-yet influenced men a lot

- husbands

- especially sons

- who sons and daughters marry

- whether they would go to school or university

- Chapter 5, Gypsies

- BJ and Bob driving with Jabbar and his dense sister Khadija

- they perform juggling and acrobatics, women as background

- abayahs used provocatively - BJ is shocked

- why? What is happening to her that she should respond this way?

- leader asks Jabbar if they would like one of the girls to dance

- Khadija says yes, Jabbar says "that's enough"; Khadija sulks

- why these reactions?

- later, Abdul Razzak (engineer friend of Jabbar) invites them to come visit the camp

- he is to deliver gifts to his mistress Fatima (!)

- Khadija does not go, reasons not explained ... ?

- Abdul brings Fatima hashish, among other gifts

- dismal scene; everyone tired, dirty, some sick. ..

- sick, fat, malnourished child

Chapter 6, Housekeeping in EI Nahra

- daily ethnographer's routine

-BBC

- Arabic drill, newly learned phrases



- Bob goes off for interviews

- BJ does housekeeping

- both do visits in afternoons

- evenings together, reviewing, writing in journals, reading, playing chess

- heavy laundry done in Diwaniya, EI Nahra people won't do Christians' laundry

- only very low-status women go to the market

- description of the food ... general interest and ethnographic duty!

- "local bread ... healthful and good when hot, but usually it was dry and often tasteless."

(they will think similarly of hers!)

- water buffalo do better than cows; herders prosperous, but low status

- a cow confers status, a water buffalo does not

- arbitrary cultural construction of meaning ...

- BJ getting nowhere with the women after two months

- thinks they are talking about her, giggling at her, but can't be sure, so can't respond

- classic paranoia of culture shock

- even if it was true

- why isn't she making any friends?

- "I felt very strongly that we must have some common humanity between us, although we

were from such different worlds. But how to find it?" [sounds like Middleton!] p. 71


  • Bob to be gone two days; Sheik Hamid sends servant Amina to stay overnight.

  • neither looking forward to it

_ finally, at bedtime, she asks "Is your husband kind to you?", cries, launches into life story

- at 15, married to a 65 year old man (she was one of 12 children, poor)

- almost died with stillbirth

- husband dies, leaving nothing

- husband's family mostly dead, remainder don't want her

- Hamid buys her, gives her to Selma

- now gets all the food she wants, Selma gives her cigarettes, Hamid is wonderful...

- hasn't seen family in seven years

- Amina: get a lot of gold jewelry from your husband while you are young!

- next day, the Sheik's women visit

- they ignore her, refuse her tea

- BJ points this out sharply: shocked silence.

- Selma makes excuses and takes some tea

- all then accept cigarettes

- why doesn't she do laundry with them at the canal?

- we never see much laundry hanging ... BJ must be lazy ...

- she cooks - brings out Western bread to try

- Sheddir spits it out

- claims she can't cook rice, so Bob eats at the mudhif

- BJ admits that she can't cook this rice; it is different from American rice

- "Rice? Rice is the same everywhere" ... "I was obviously slow-witted as well as lazy"

- notice any naive realism here?

- Fine for the anthropologist to be a cultural relativist, but what if no one else is?

- start to tease about sleeping with Bob

- BJ sees them out and cries

- "I would not have believed that I could be so upset at being accused of laziness and

incompetence by a group of illiterate tribal ladies .. .it was a real and very terrible snub now ... "

- BJ feels indignant, "they are nothing but a group of curiosity seekers"

- Of course, what are BJ and Bob?

- self-righteous, hurt ... next day, unreasonably depressed

- next morning, Laila and two others come teach her how to cook rice

- "We don't want your husband to beat you ... After all, you are here alone without your mother."

- What are the assumptions here?

- Would BJ have thought of herself this way?

- that afternoon, visits Sheik's family, accidentally unannounced (Mohammed forgot)

- sees Selma in daily clothes, making Sheik Hamid's bed

- Samira (Kulthum's daughter) asks if she embroiders, suggests she embroider Bob some

pillowcases

- Laila to lend patterns

- BJ has been sitting on the floor - not a chair

- Selma too busy to think about entertaining her

- Selma: the Sheik wants to meet you; here or your place?

- "I must ask my husband" - the right answer!

- Purdah = Seclusion of women



Chapter 7, Problems of Purdah [Sheik Hamza]

- Sheik Hamza arrives in car with driver to visit when Bob is gone

- BJ does not open the gate; "my husband would be glad to see you"

- anger, gate rattling, leave

- Bob describes him as a wastrel, absent, spending "sharecropper's" money

- embroidery working

- Laila traced pattern

- BJ brings it everywhere

- "the women all remarked on it" [apparently not quite typical behavior] but then forget her strangeness and talk freely

- BJ doesn't have to talk constantly

- could pick things up by listening

- Hamza had invited Bob to visit him through Jabbar; repeats, inviting BJ to his harem

- Hamza's 3-story "palace" (p. 85)

- Hamza takes a large share from his fellahin, so they are poorest in the area

- Jabbar: he has to go when the revolution comes, as expected in the countryside - but not by diplomats in Baghdad

- Ethnography is actually a good way to learn what is going on

- Lynn Maners, grad student studying traditional dance in Yugoslavia: predicted the war in Bosnia based on changes he saw in the dancing

- US consulate staff in Lima not allowed to leave a few neighborhoods of the capital, clueless about the country

- Hamza has sent his women away to Karbala, they have no choice but to go in with BJ

- "Trying to be as dignified as possible with two menservants, Hamza and his teenage son standing by goggling, I took off my abayah ... " p. 87

- [BJ has really internalized the modesty rules in just a few months]

- BJ refuses liquor, asks for tea

- excruciating decor... "vulgar"

- petrified pastries, canned cookies, weak tea with condensed milk

- plaster cake!

- beautiful gardens and view; Hamza unmoved, says he is bored and will leave soon

- "Mambo Italiano" and Elvis Presley

- gives them four armed guards as they drive two hours to next tiny town - Hamza is not too popular ...

- is anyone being ethnocentric here?

- What standards is BJ applying to Hamza? Is this fair?

- Chapter 8, I Meet the Sheik

- Bob invites the Sheik the day after visiting Hamza

- Hamid plus brother Abdulla and oldest son Nour

- elaborate menu

· -BJ wants to prove that she can cook. .. p. 96

- Mohammed reassures or distracts Bob when he is harassing BJ (p. 96, 97) - BJ finds him an ally as well as a servant!

- BJ declines a cigarette, Abdullah says "It is better for a woman if she does not smoke" (just like Kulthum, who said Hamid prefers women not to smoke ... )

--Sheik Hamid impressed by her industry, having cooked all that food "by herself"


Chapter 9, Ramadan

- A holy month

- Dates are approximate

- For many, they depend on actual lunar sightings, which can be affected by local conditions

- Last year, September 23- October 20

- This year (1428 in the Islamic calendar), September 12-0ctober 11

- Fast all day, not even water

- So eat before sunup and after sundown

- Krayas for men, others for women

- Women's krayas led by female mullahs

- Highly esteemed and profitable

- How does this fit with the rest of women's roles here?

- Fadhila, Sherif a, other girls don't wear face veils on "tribal" side of the canal, but do for

crossing the bridge and walking on the other side

- What does this suggest about their concept of veiling, etc.?

- A woman arrives in makeup and a green and white over yellow hashmiya

- Clearly being rebellious, looking for responses

- Most of the older women ignore her completely

- What does this say about the rigid rules of female behavior in this culture?

- Why do most women follow them?

- Kraya is the retelling of the betrayal and death of Hussein

- We will look at this story next time

- Everyone gets very emotional

- What is the purpose or effect of the krayas?

- When did they originate?

- 1500's, when Ottoman (Turkish) Empire oppressed Iraqis

- Ottomans were Sunni

- Krayas were assertion of religious difference, and protest

- Might Sunni/Shiite relations be different in former provinces of the Ottoman Empire

than they are elsewhere?

- What sort(s) of explanation(s) does this suggest?

- Urban Baghdad Shiite says krayas aggravate splits within Islam

- Make Arab unity impossible

- Why go?

- Social contact

- Childhood memories

- Enjoys the ceremony

- Does this remind you of anything in your own culture?



Chapter 10, The Feast (lid el-Fitr)

- Feast at end of Ramadan

- Sheik's household feeds 200-800 men at the mudhif

- The women do all the work

- Urthman, Sheik Hamid's uncle, wanted to be sheik but lost to Hamid

- Even some of the children's dances are about Hussein's betrayal and death

- Chapter 11, Moussa's House

- Laila has chosen BJ as her friend

- Qanda the beautician/tattooist

- Tattoos will help you keep your husband

- What assumptions are implied by that?

- Why is BJ so adamantly against what they think is a fine idea?

- Why was she accepted?

- Her Arabic got better

- Instead of smiling and nodding, she could talk back to sarcastic remarks

- They had thought she was deaf or stupid, but she became better company ...

- Chapter 12, Weddings

- Ali has arranged to swap daughter and son with a brother in marriage

- An efficient, first-cousin marriage

- Ali' s daughter Sahura, no beauty

- BJ hopes her husband is not hard on her when he sees her for the first time ...

- Mother and other women wail as she leaves

- Different reactions by different brides

- The Sheik's guards are looking the other way so the women can go out and see the dancing p.143

- Man dances the "bride's" part

- Apparently reluctant at first

- Men ritually wash in canal, with mullah

- Then groom and bride sign agreement

- Groom goes in to the bride's home to consummate the marriage

- Tension as it takes a while

- Bride's mother as a witness

- Show the bloody sheet to all, proving her virginity

- Congratulations all around

- Bride can be killed or ruined for life if she does not appear to be a virgin

- Why?

- Is this a good system?

- Chapter 13, Salima

- Tribe endogamy preferred

- First cousin marriage preferred

- But Moussa's daughters don't have enough male cousins

- They love their expected husbands; grew up with them as children

- Laila does not expect to marry

- Has to care for her mother

- The higher-status men all go off to study, want to marry more modem women they meet there

- Femea says they will have meaningless lives "for reasons which they would never be able to understand" p 160

- Is that fair?

- Best option: become a teacher

- Closed to older girls - school for girls became acceptable too late for them



Chapter 14, One Wife or Four

- Hussna thought to be a poor wife; husband Abad considers taking as a second wife a recent widow with two small boys

- Even women who oppose multiple marriages approve

- Hussna goes to a wise woman in Samawa

- Widow's son gets sick, Abad gives up the marriage

- People say they don't believe, but they do notice ...

- Un Khalil and women mullahs visited about illness, barrenness, to make cruel husbands kind, but especially to prevent him from taking another wife - Only 9 of 104 households had ever been polygamous

- 4 divorces in just the last 18 months!

- Second wife is expensive

- "Isn't our way better?"

- Bob can divorce you and leave you penniless

- But if he takes a second wife, he still supports the first

- Mothers have final say in sons' marriages while alive

- Second wife is often the man's choice

- Mohammed's rules of polygamy were intended to stop female infanticide

- Often the only option for women

- no place for them outside a family

- her children will have relatives to support them and to marry

- Femea says the practice is rare in cities

- Multiple wives needed to cook and care for children

- Abdulla treats Khariya and Bassoul equally, and they get along well

Chapter 15, Summer

- Sheik Hamid takes a two-month vacation annually to Lebanon with the other sheiks

- Spoiled son Feisal gets typhoid

- Laila insists that BJ will forget them after she leaves

- Charms, the Book of Stars

- Is it against the Koran?

- Midwife knows how to get rid of babies

- Americans put their old women in houses by themselves

- Chapter 16, Hussein

- Hussein, their armed guard

- Migrant labor in Baghdad

- Hussein can repeat his family tree back five generations

- All the wives and children as real to him as though they were alive today (p. 190)

- Visitor from Baghdad terrified when Hussein shoots a gun at night to test it

- The "Experience with the Tribe"

- BJ hit in the head by a mourning dove

- She screams

- Bob was in the outhouse, did not hear it

- Denies to Hussein that she was screaming

- Hussein assumes he was beating her

- Strikes EI Nahra women as very funny

- Either because they believed it

- Or because they thought it was an elaborate lie

- Chapter 17, Muharram

- The month in which Hussein went to Karbala to demand the Caliphate, was denied, and was killed in the battle of Karbala - Krayas

- Mourning processions

- Reenactments

- British-backed government requires a deposit, forfeited if violence breaks out between factions

- Jabbar thinks BJ and Bob will find it primitive and barbaric, and think badly of Iraqis

- Compare to CNN article about Ashura ...

- Is Jabbar's concern justified?

- Jabbar also thinks the British encourage the rituals in order to accentuate the Shi'ite/Sunni split and prevent Arabs from uniting against them - Is this a reasonable interpretation?

- Consider the boundaries of Iraq, cross-cutting Shi'ites, Sunnis, and Kurds ... why?

- He says "when the revolution comes, all this will change" p. 196

- Taaziya processions of men flagellating themselves or cutting foreheads with knives

- Shabih (passion play) reenactment of battle of Karbala

- The war "between the good men of Hussein's family and the evil men of Muawiya"

- "don't they speak Arabic in America?" p. 208

- English sound hilariously funny to the women they visit for the reenactment in Suffra

- They are unimpressed by BJ's white gold wedding band

- Reenactment of Hussein's burial

- Led by a young boy (representing Ali, Hussein's son)

- Mannequin of dead Hussein, with a bloody cow's neck

- Taaziyas

- Everyone wailing

- Amina switches the wailing and dust-throwing on and off

- Watch the ceremony through the mosque windows

- Chapter 18, Pilgrimage to Karbala

- Shiites should not only visit Mecca, but also the shrines of the twelve imams (for "twelver" Shiites)

- Actually, several sects, who consider slightly different sequences of imams to be correct

- Laila wants to go to Karbala and pray in order to get Moussa to send her with Basima to secondary school in Diwaniya

- Bob would be too obvious when Karbala "was particularly sensitive to the presence of unbelievers"

- But BJ could pass in her abayah

- Conversation with shopkeeper about wearing the abayah

- Procession, taaziyas, BJ steps on a prayer rug, Sitt Najat drags her to safety ...

- Sitt Najat's ideal of how Karbala is turns out to be far from the real



Chapter 19, Autumn

- Sitt Aliyah, girl's school principal, leaves for Diwaniya

- Sitt Aziza replaces her

- Becomes friend ofBJ's



Chapter 20, An Excursion into the Country

- Aziza with her cousin trom Diwaniya invites BJ for a ride into the country

- Laila comes along

- Laila is very quiet

- The women meet some hostile probable squatters

- Laila begs Aziza not to say where they are trom, but she does p. 259

- Laila refuses to be photographed

- Later, at home, Mohammed explains the trouble Laila is in, and BJ is at fault

- She could be beaten or killed

- The cousin has a bad reputation

- All agree to lie, say that it was another cousin who was with BJ and Aziza

- Laila's 3 older sisters chew BJ out for endangering Laila

- Months later, Selma asks, BJ remembers to lie

- BJ had thought she understood the culture, but discovered that he was only seeing the tip of

the iceberg

Chapter 21, Winter

- Cold, TB flares up

- BJ gets sick

- Laila, Rajat insist on being with her

- A sick person needs social support more than ever

- Bob wants to give donation to a poor man who gets charity from many people

- Gets strange reactions or is ignored when he mentions it

- Asks Mohammed to buy a sack of grain for him

- "He is a man; let him decide"

- discussing charity is bad taste

- recipient has as many or more rights than donor

- "how many ways we seek to gratify ourselves"

- Two engineers arrive for dinner and cards

- The women come to keep BJ company

- Chapter 22, Jabbar Becomes Engaged

- Jabbar is respected for his fair dealings and respect for both Sheik Hamid and the mayor

- Revolutionary, anti-Western, Marxist

- College friend Naji finds Jabbar a potential wife, trom a powerful, conservative family

- Another college friend, Abdul Razzak, runs into Jabbar and Naji

- Suggests his sister, just released to be married because her sick mother has died

- Jabbar prefers marrying into Abdul Razzak's family

- The sister is also "modem", wants to meet Jabbar, they don't like each other

- Jabbar gets engaged to the first girl

Chapter 23, Death in the Tribe and in the Town

-- Um Saad's mourning

. Chapter 24, At Home in EI Nahra

- Hamid's son Ahmar wants to marry Moussa's daughter Sanaa

- Hamid wants him to marry one of Abdullah's daughters

- Moussa doesn't want to irritate Hamid, because he may soon have to buy land from him

- marriage as a matter between families, not just between the bride and groom

- Chapter 25, Back to Baghdad

- Mohammed comes with them to Baghdad

_ Depressed because no one knows him, he doesn't know the suq ...

- Abdullah's son Ahmed and Hamid's son Hadhi both at college in Baghdad

- Both have quarreled with their fathers, are being supported by their mothers

- These women are not completely powerless

- Hadhi considers marrying Hamid's daughter Sabiha

- BJ says no, must be Samira

- Samira is beautiful, warm, smart

- Sabiha is "silly"

- But Sabiha has the lighter skin: more prestigious

- Maybe Bob was not so naIve to assume that Selma was beautiful because Hamid made a large bridewealth payment

- Lunch with Jabbar, his fiance Suheir, and his dim sister Khadija

- None wearing abaya

- Khadija is uncomfortable

- Suheir is to "educate the women of EI Nahra away from the abayah"

- Khadija is terrified at the thought

- Is it likely to work?

- BJ and Bob accompany Sayid Muhsen, his wife, and five male relatives to the American Hospital to see a female doctor about birth control

- Previous doctor told her to wear an examination instrument!

- Awkwardness with thanks and goodbyes as they leave

- Hamid invites Bob and BJ to a reputable nightclub with him and Nour

- BJ impressed that he would consider their foreign ways, even though he would never take his own wives to such a place

- Nour uncomfortable eating with his father and with a woman, and with western table etiquette

- Hamid assumes the dancing women in cocktail dresses are prostitutes ("that tart")

- BJ suddenly sees them as ridiculous

- Hamid assumes that Bob and BJ would never do such a thing

- Can't introduce a couple that they know because Hamid would only think worse of Bob and BJ, not better of the couple

- He respects BJ because she has followed his culture's rules

- Not because he is a cultural relativist

- He has not decided that western practices are understandable and OK, but only that some westerners do not do them

- He would never believe that the dancing women were faithful wives or respectable single women

- Just as BJs friends at home would never believe that the women ofEI Nahra were not living in against their will in near-serfdom

- Bob and BJ have not brought understanding and tolerance to EI Nahra

- Only personal ties ... a small first step



Chapter 26, Leave-taking

- Laila doubted that BJ would return

- BJ tries to say she is speechless because she is touched by their kindness

- They don't comprehend the concept at all

- Laila teases about the bird story

- ''who, me? I'm not even married."

- She obviously doesn't believe it was really a bird ...

- "God willing, you will have a boy" "you don't want Mr. Bob to divorce you" "when she is with her mother, she'll have a boy"

- "Ask Mr. Bob to bring your mother and then you'll never have to leave us"

- The women never envied BJ, just made her fit into their ways

- Discussion about Basima going to school in Diwaniya

- Will she wear an abayah?

- Is wearing the abayah in the Koran?

- Most can't read, so they don't know

- Tension between Selma (Hamid's wife) and Fatima (Moussa's wife)

- Hamid's son Ahmar wanted to marry Moussa's daughter Sanaa

- But Hamid was opposed

- In the postscript, we learn that Ahmar married Sanaa anyway



- Postscript

- Six years later, 1964

- The revolution did not change much; Hamid is still sheik

- Fernea and Fernea: Symbolizing Roles: Behind the Veil

- Most variants ofIslam see gender identities as explicitly established by Allah (God)

- the two genders are a fundamental feature of existence

- adherence to the gender roles is required by God

- some Christian sects take this position, too

- In many Muslim societies, modesty is essential to female identity

- Purdah: seclusion of women

- Hijab: literally means barrier; modest clothing

- marks women as devout, respectable Muslims

- Hijab is a minor issue to some Muslim women, a big deal to others

- Purpose or meaning of hi jab

- expression of male power over women?

- modesty, same as US women not going topless

- warns others to treat her with respect

- in some cases, indicates a degree of wealth and independence

- protection outside - from dirt and men

- protects men from sights that could cause them to become impassioned and misbehave

- anonymity in public

- protects family honor

- the honor of an entire family is based on the behavior of each member

- one person's loss of honor affects everyone

- male honor is based on bravery, piety, and hospitality

- can be regained if lost

- female honor is based on chastity outside marriage

- cannot be regained if lost

- Culture as meaning; cultural relativism:

- We can't understand

- why women wear hijab

- how it affects them

- how it fits into their culture

- without understanding the meanings that women and men place on it

- we must be cultural relativists in order to understand

- applying our own values first would keep us from ever really getting it

- Revival of popularity of hi jab: two theories

- men asserting their male identity (as having power over women), which is threatened by

- women increasingly going to work and earning money and respect

- women asserting their female identity (as being pious and respectable), despite their

- increasingly having to go to work and be exposed to vulgarity, profanity, and disrespect

- Both illustrate all three of Middleton's approaches to understanding cultural practices

- both are about communicating meaning

- specifically, the identity that men and women want others to attribute to them

- both are about culture as a system of interrelated parts

- both bring in economic forces and work practices to explain a choice of clothing

- both are about culture as an adaptation (this may be the weakest of the three)

- both show how hijab solves a practical social problem that men or women face

- it is unusual to find an explanation that embodies all three approaches; usually an explanation basically applies just one

- Recent conflicts over hijab

- 2005/2006 in France: banned wearing obvious religious symbols in public schools

- mostly aimed at hijab

- supposedly to encourage equality and solidarity

- England: allowed wearing hijab in public schools

- to permit free exercise of religion

- October 2006 in England:

- Jack Straw, leader of House of Commons, ex Foreign Secretary

- asked that women remove niqab (full face veil) to speak with him

- said it is a "visible statement of separation and of difference" (BBC News, 5 Oct. 2006)

- said he feared that "wearing the full veil was bound to make better, positive relations

between the two communities more difficult". (BBC News, 5 Oct. 2006)

--Tony Blair, Prime Minister, called Straw "perfectly sensible" on this

- BBC headline: "Bilingual [elementary school] support worker Aishah Azmi, 24, was

asked to remove the veil after pupils found it hard to understand her during English language lessons." (BBC News, 5 Oct. 2006)

- a court found that the school had "victimized" her and awarded her a fine

- but did not order that she be re-hired

- October 2006 in Australia

- "Australia's most senior Muslim cleric ... Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali said women who did

not wear a hijab (head dress) were like "uncovered meat".

- "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside ... and the cats come and eat it ...

- whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat?" he asked ....

- "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred," he

added.

- Sheikh Hilali also condemned women who swayed suggestively and wore make-up,

- implying they attracted sexual assault.

- "Then you get a judge without mercy ... and gives you 65 years," he added."

- This sermon was immediately condemned by many Muslims

- AI-Hilali said that his statements had been taken out of context

- He said he was referring to infidelity, not assault.

- "I unreservedly apologize to any woman who is offended by my comments. I had only

intended to protect women's honor," the statement published in The Australian said. - An extreme example of hijab being interpreted as both

- protection for women from men



- and protection for men from temptation that they cannot resist

- (BBC News, 26 Oct. 2006)


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