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Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East: Tradition, Identity and Power
by Fatma Muge Gocek (Editor), Shiva Balaghi (Editor)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0231101236, Paperback)
Employing a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on gender relations, Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East questions long-standing stereotypes about the traditional subordination of women in the region. With essays on gender construction in Iran, Turkey, Israel, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, and the Occupied Territories, this collection offers a wide-ranging exploration of tradition, identity, and power in different parts of the Middle East.Seeking to overcome monolithic Western notions of women's life in "the traditional society," the essays in Part I reexamine the assumption that such societies leave little room for female participation.Part II focuses on the reconstruction of identities by women in Iran, Turkey, Israel, and the Occupied Territories. The authors examine the complex variables that contribute to the development of identities -- including gender, class, and ethnicity -- in various Middle Eastern societies, questioning whether certain identities are more important to women than others. These essays also look at the issue of group identity formation versus the autonomy of the individual.Part III looks at the relationship between gender and power in everyday life in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Morocco, showing how power relations are constantly contested and renegotiated among family members and members of a community, between nations and between men and women.WIth its collection of enlightened and diverse contemporary perspectives on women in the Middle East, Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East is an important work that will have significant impact on the way we look at gender in traditional societies.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:20 -0400)
When we say that identity is constructed, we challenge commonsense views of nation, ethnicity, and gender. Many embrace the premise that ethnicity and nationality are "natural" and primordial: this view is exemplified by the French historian who describes Bonaparte as if he had been not a Corsican, but a Frenchman, and by the urbanite who expresses blind generalizations about the national character of immigrant groups. These ascribed national identities, along with sexual ones, are presumed to be givens, and are conceived as relatively undifferentiated. It is not very difficult to deconstruct this conception of a nation, whether Italy, Iran, or Israel: the supposedly uniform and static national identity combines a congeries of very different linguistic and ethnic groups assembled only at particular points in history. Furthermore, this union is the result of concerted, creative political and military action, rather than the natural culmination of inexorable ethnic affinity. As Thomas Laquer has shown, ideas about sexual identity (which have varied greatly throughout history) can similarly be shown to possess constructed elements.
An edition of this book was published by Columbia University Press.
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