It was interesting in Pamuk’s chapters reading about the difference between seeing Istanbul through the lens of melancholy as someone who lived there versus the melancholy described in the other works he mentioned of a tourist traveling through a poverty stricken area. How there was almost an honor in the type of melancholy felt by people who live in Istanbul, and how that cultural melancholy differs from solitary melancholy.
The article on the other hand described more of a pride in Istanbul’s history than the book did. The article made it seem like people didn’t want their history destroyed (and they won out).
To me, the book and the article seemed to contradict themselves in terms of Istanbul pride and melancholy. Nevertheless, they were both very interesting to read.
The history of olive oil was definitely very interesting. I think the argument on the naturalness of olive oil stood out the most to me. Olives are inedible in their pure form, so some sort of measures are already taken to make olives edible. Does that make them unnatural? Not necessarily, but it does make for an interesting point in the debate of how natural the fat is in olive oil. No doubt it’s better for one than most fats, but it is interesting to see both sides of the idea. I’ve also always been confused as to what extra-virgin meant when it came to olive oil, so to see that explained quite well was nice. Now I know what extra-virgin means.
The author brings up some great points about the history of Judaism and Israel as seen through the anthropological and archaeological record. The history seen within many parts of Israel is closely intertwined with big archaeological finds associated with certain eras as discussed in the reading. I did not realize just how closely related more current areas of Israel is with the history associated with those areas.
One thing that did bug me about this reading was the digs made against Palestinian people, and how they aren’t as interested in their own past as the Jewish/Israelites. I guess to me not being crazy national about your past and country isn’t really the same thing as not being concerned about your past. One can be interested about history and the past without shouting it to the world all of the time.
How proud Israelite anthropologists and archaeologists are of their interwoven everything is was kind of odd to me. It seemed like all of their pride in their country came from the telling of their past and how they overcame instead of how their country was functioning in the present.
Mainly, the author made lots of great points about how religion is so closely related to the way they view different artifacts from the past, and how different eras of history are studied. In the now liberal and democratic state of Israel, monuments and such from minority religions are protected, but that makes it seem like those artifacts could have been destroyed before. Did they? I’m not sure if anyone really knows, but it seems to me that the nationalist pride of Judaism could have gotten in the way of science a few times. Also the practice of labeling items with religious group names instead of the eras they were associated with struck me as odd. Why mark things as Arab or Christian instead of marking them as from Early Islamic Empire or Roman Era? Seems like it is a way to remind people that there are distinct populations of people in Israel, and they will always be minorities in a Jewish state.
I was pleasantly surprised by the story method used in Abu-Lughod’s book. I’ll freely admit that I’m usually a skimmer if a reading is over 40 pages, but I instantly fell into this book. The way it was written makes it easy to understand, and the stories make one feel like they were right there in the room also.
Chapter 1 was quite an interesting chapter to me. It honestly seemed like every other story was one where Migdim was cursing about her sons and how moronic they were. The story about the parallel-cousin marriage and how Migdim really did not want to marry those certain guys was really revealing to me. The way she used manipulation to ensure she was at least somewhat happy throughout her life really helped me understand some of the dynamics of their culture. In the end, her manipulation worked, but to me, it’s sad it even had to resort to that in the first place. In the end, chapter 1 made me think about how it seemed like her sons were just living for the money and the women, and her daughters and daughters-in-law really cared about Migdim herself.
The stories of reproduction from chapter 3 were both exciting and heartbreaking. They really revealed the thoughts on reproduction, their superstitions and cures for ailments, and how valued children are in their society. The stories of the ones who had trouble getting pregnant or had miscarriages were slightly heartbreaking to me. Wanting to take away your daughter because the couple is having problems having children just seems so selfish and odd to me. The list of different ways to “unblock” a woman did have me cracking up some just purely due to the long list and serious thoughts behind it.
I throughly enjoyed this reading, and am looking forward to reading the rest.