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Women in the Middle East: Past and Present [Kindle Edition]

Nikki R. Keddie
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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  • Print ISBN-10: 0691128634
  • Print ISBN-13: 978-0691128634
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Book Description

Written by a pioneer in the field of Middle Eastern women's history, Women in the Middle East is a concise, comprehensive, and authoritative history of the lives of the region's women since the rise of Islam. Nikki Keddie shows why hostile or apologetic responses are completely inadequate to the diversity and richness of the lives of Middle Eastern women, and she provides a unique overview of their past and rapidly changing present. The book also includes a brief autobiography that recounts Keddie's political activism as one of the first women in Middle East Studies.

Positioning women within their individual economic situations, identities, families, and geographies, Women in the Middle East examines the experiences of women in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, in Iran, and in all the Arab countries. Keddie discusses the interaction of a changing Islam with political, cultural, and socioeconomic developments. In doing so, she shows that, like other major religions, Islam incorporated ideas and practices of male superiority but also provoked challenges to them. Keddie breaks with notions of Middle Eastern women as faceless victims, and assesses their involvement in the rise of modern nationalist, socialist, and Islamist movements. While acknowledging that conservative trends are strong, she notes that there have been significant improvements in Middle Eastern women's suffrage, education, marital choice, and health.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This academic investigation from professor and author Keddie (Modern Iran) proves wide-spanning Afghanistan, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain-but struggles for depth amid a shortage of primary source material: "too little research has been done to provide a true history of how women fared over time in the Middle East." That said, Keddie makes a dogged effort in Book One to detail the situation of women in "those classes that are well documented," including the distinct cultural and practical barriers among "Muslim and ethnic majorities," successfully crafting a "general analytic overview" that traces the seclusion of women through practices adopted by eighth century caliphs, the modernizing reforms of colonial rule and 20th century strides in the women's movement. Book Two concerns the research strategies utilized in her study, adding resonance to her observations and setting the stage for other scholars to take on this "huge topic." 24 b&w photos.
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"This remarkable book enriches the field of Middle Eastern studies. . . . To read these interviews from almost two decades ago is to be struck by how much the world and Middle Eastern studies have changed since. For the new prominence of scholarship about women, no little credit is due Nikki Keddie."--Haleh Esfandiari, Wilson Quarterly

"All readers will enjoy the superb photographs, most of which were taken by the author during the 1970s...Graduate students will benefit from reading Keddie's nuanced understanding of the field's development from her perspective in 1978 and nearly a quarter of a century later."--M.L. Russell, Choice

"This collection of papers is a useful reminder both of the evolving scholarship dealing with women in the Middle East, and of the significant contributions that Keddie has made to that scholarship. It is an important addition to the library of anyone interested in this subject."--John O. Voll, Journal of Social History

Product Details

  • File Size: 1823 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 9, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008U4UJPO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #922,842 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
_Women in the Middle East: Past and Present_ is really three shorter books: the first a history of women in the Near East, the second a historiography of women's history in the region, and the final (much shorter) book, a transcript of an interview with Professor Keddie, now emerita from UCLA. Taken as a whole, it is a masterpiece of scholarship, and hopefully only the beginning of more serious scholarship on the issue of gender in the Near East.

The inital book was the strongest of the three, and for the non-specialist would be the area most of interest. In it, Keddie details the anthropological and sociological origins of gender relations in the Near East, beginning with the practice of wearing the veil (which pre-dates Islam by several thousand years), to the sociological context of the Quran's admonitions for women, continuing as she explains the vallues and social mores of different Islamic cultures' attitudes towards women in light of these factors. Keddie goes to great length to show how the experiences of Muslim women varies widely, the result of social class, geographical location, time, and economic place in society. Such a nuanced understanding of gender roles in Islam is rare, and Keddie's treatment of the subject is sophisticated.

Keddie goes on to divide the history of the Near East into 4 periods regarding women's freedom of action: early Islam, the first two centuries of Islam, the governance by non-Arabic peoples (Mongols, Mameluks, Turks and Safavids), and the modern period. In each period, Keddie points out, women were seen and treated differently, again the result of social class, location and economic mode of production.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Women in Middle East history August 21, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was thrilled and delighted to get this book so quickly, and its condition is flawless.
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