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Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics)

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ISBN-13: 978-0691139555
ISBN-10: 0691139555
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Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics) + The Object of Labor: Commodification in Socialist Hungary + Politics in Color and Concrete: Socialist Materialities and the Middle Class in Hungary (New Anthropologies of Europe)
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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2011 William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology, Society for the Anthropology of Europe/American Anthropological Association

Winner of the 2011 Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Winner of the 2011 John D. Bell Memorial Book Prize, Bulgarian Studies Association

Winner of the 2010 Heldt Prize for Best Book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Women's studies, Association for Women in Slavic Studies

"Islamic studies scholars who increasingly focus on a wide range of Muslim societies in both Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority countries will find this volume informative. The author presents her work in an accessible fashion, and the volume will appeal to people with diverse interests."--Choice

"Ghodsee accomplishes a great deal with Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe. . . . [T]his work may be a useful teaching tool for classes focusing on political transitions and may help steer young students and international bureaucrats away from crude stereotypes about Muslims in the Balkans."--Isa Blumi, H-Net Reviews

"Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe offers an insightful analysis of the social and economic factors that propelled the spread of new forms of religious allegiances and gender roles among Pomaks in Bulgaria. It is an excellent contribution to the study of Islam in postcommunist society."--Ina Merdjanova, Religion, State & Society

"Ghodsee does an excellent job at unpacking the complexities of Muslim life in Madan and beyond. Her thought-provoking book gives life to a world in which the dust of the past is still settling on the complex world of post-1989."--Mary Neuburger, Slavic Review

From the Back Cover

"Finally, a thoughtful case study of the influence of Islamic aid organizations among the Muslim minority populations in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Kristen Ghodsee describes the changes that have taken place in the practice of Islam among the Pomaks, the indigenous Slav Muslims of Bulgaria. Her book reads like a detective story of why the Muslims of one particular town turned toward the new orthodox and 'foreign' Islam of mainly Saudi-inspired imams and proselytizing aid workers. A much-needed contribution."--Tone Bringa, author of Being Muslim the Bosnian Way

"Ghodsee's patient ethnography allows her to explore in rich detail the encounter between postcommunist Bulgaria and 'orthodox' Islam. In her hands, the abstract concept of agency takes on compelling specificity, as she shows the women and men of the Rhodope region adapting Muslim beliefs and practices to their own needs, with striking implications for gender relations. This study will prove illuminating not just to area specialists but to all those seeking to understand the nature and appeal of religion in postmodern spaces."--Sonya Michel, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

"Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe provides a nuanced perspective on social and economic change in postcommunist Bulgaria and a crucial ethnographic lens onto changing religious practices and gender norms among Pomak Bulgarians."--Lara Deeb, University of California, Irvine

"Ghodsee's book contains important lessons for scholars and policymakers striving to understand how and why some Muslims in postsocialist states are adopting more orthodox lifestyles, why they are doing so at this particular juncture, and what sorts of internal and external factors informed their decision. I truly enjoyed reading Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe, and learned a great deal."--Donna A. Buchanan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691139555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691139555
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #830,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kristen Ghodsee is an award-winning author and ethnographer. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley and is a Professor at Bowdoin College. She is the author of five books, including Lost In Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism (2011) and The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe (2015). Ghodsee has won residential research fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey; at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University; and at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) at the Albert-Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg, Germany.

In 2012, Ghodsee was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for her work in Anthropology and Cultural Studies. She is the current president of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, and loves popcorn, typewriters, and basset hounds.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Almelle on March 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
Okay, I'll admit I got halfway through then had to return this to the library, but I'm definitely buying this once I get a job and can buy myself a bookshelf!

Anyhow, what I've seen so far is more of the beautiful and thoughtful writing Ms. Ghodsee had in her last book, The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism, and Postsocialism on the Black Sea. That last one was about the history of women in Bulgaria's tourist industry and how they adapted to new socioeconomic realities after the fall of the Soviet Union.

In this book, Ghodsee turns her eye to the Muslim Pomak people of Bulgaria, especially in the town of Madan. She outlines the changes they experienced after socialism, their differences with the Bulgarian population at large and sense of Muslim identity, and their turn towards Islam and interactions with international Muslim charities as they sought to address the endemic unemployment and poverty that resulted from the collapse of the local mining industries. As with her last book, Ghodsee writes clearly and with great detail, and I especially enjoy the anecdotes which which she frames her discussions, and the way in which she narrates her story as a whole. Well done.
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