Schneider Vigilance and Virgins

This reading by Jane Schneider discusses the pastoral groups of the Mediterranean, their beliefs in honor and shame, and how women play a role in their societies. This article again poses the question of what constitutes as being “Mediterranean”. In the beginning she says she defines this area by the people who share these common themes of honor and shame and how it relates to the women of the group. That is a really broad definition of the Mediterranean. Multiple times she discusses the Fulani tribe as being in the Mediterranean because of their honor and shame rules but the Fulani are mainly in central Africa. Is she purposing the Mediterranean stretches this far? Also through the article she describes practices that remind me of class discussions about polar opposite behaviors. In class this is related to the discussion of the Evil Eye but here it is with the practices of herding. A herder watches over and brands his heard in order to protect it but if he has never lost an animal then he is a “sissy”. The later part of the article is what interested me the most. While the Mediterranean shares ideas of honor, each culture expresses it differently. I found it so fascinating how women in Sicily were on the same level as the men and inherited the same as them while Arabs described women as “cows of Satan”. If sons are the key to prosperity and sons come from women, how are women descended from Satan while men are descended from God?

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