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Women in the Middle East: Past and Present

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691128634
ISBN-10: 0691128634
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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (November 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691128634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691128634
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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_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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I was thrilled and delighted to get this book so quickly, and its condition is flawless.
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