Lila Abu-Lughod Chapter 5

I have loved reading this entire book. Hearing real stories that all intertwine from this Bedouin family in Egypt gets a more realistic perspective to aspects of the Mediterranean we have been discussing. In chapter 5 Lila mainly writes about an essay that one of Migdin’s grand-daughters, Kamla, wrote. There are several aspects of how honour and shame are viewed in the Bedouin culture. Through the chapter Kamla and Lila discuss how the traditions are changing primarily for the women. On page 233 the section¬†Piety was intriguing to me. In the chapter up to this point there was discussion of how the women of this younger generation were changing, largely in their search of education. But in this section Kamla writes about some traditions she hopes are preserved.

  1. Their piety and total adherence to the traditions of the Prophet  2. Their total respectfulness 3. Their generosity 4.Hospitality and respect for guest 5. The ties of kinship that link various parts of the family and the cooperation of relatives in all situations

The last point is the one I find the most interesting. In the beginning of the chapter Kamla talks about how her and some others are against the tradition of marrying their first cousins. She says how she wants to find an educated man from the city to marry, not a cousin. I believe these five points she wants to preserve are good ones, even though she is still trying to change others. My question is why do you think she chose these five points? Especially the last one of “cooperation of relatives in all situations” when she fights to make changes to other traditions.

Jane Schneider

I enjoyed this reading. It shed more light on the honour and shame aspect of the Mediterranean; which seems to be the focus of a lot of research in the area. The information I found most helpful was her in depth descriptions of the cultures that the honour and shame customs come from. Schneider focused on the pastoral ¬†societies on the Mediterranean. Which she described as the regions surrounding the sea that had a emphasis on the chastity of women. In the reading she talks about the nuclear family organisation of these societies from small families to larger groups. How these societies set up their lineage systems, controlled their animals, thoughts on theft were all intertwined with the honour and shame they displayed. One example I found interesting was that if a dowry cow was stolen it was fought more about then if it had been a regular herd cow. So why is it that these pastoral societies show more of a culture around honour and shame then a more ‘European’ society?

Dionigi Albera

I found this article interesting as it takes a different viewpoint of history in the Mediterranean. Through the other readings I have not really thought about the history of anthropology in the Mediterranean. I have heard and learned about this region through my history and Latin classes but never thought how that information was gathered at times. Albera puts the times and processes of anthropology in the Mediterranean into understandable stages. In the 1950s it was dominated, like most studies through history, by Anglo-Saxon scholars who took their own bias into their research. These scholars seemed to only focus on the honour and shame factors of the “Mediterranean” cultures. For me it seemed like the article never really answered why they only seemed to be focused on that aspect of the culture in the Mediterranean. It discusses how this was one of the criticisms of the early anthropology studies and how in other anthropology studies at the time focused on factors like material culture, technology, food, magic, religion and healing practices. So why did the first anthropologist only focus on honour and shame?