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Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society, 2nd Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520224735
ISBN-10: 9780520224735
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A valuable contribution in many areas, giving us new dimensions of nomadic and Arab culture, poetry, women, and gender roles and a fresh way of looking at the interrelatedness of the ideology and politics of sentiment. An outstanding anthropological ethnography of the Bedouin of the Egyptian desert, as well as an unusually skillful analysis of gender and social structure as it is expressed through women's poetic discourse." --"International Journal of Middle East Studies

From the Inside Flap

"A truly extraordinary book--beautifully and modestly written, remarkably insightful, consistently compelling." —Edward Said, author of Out of Place: A Memoir
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 2 edition (January 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780520224735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520224735
  • ASIN: 0520224736
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the best ethnographies I've come across. The author's ability to see beyond the stereotypes and catch-phrases surrounding "veiled" women is astounding.
Abu-Lughod is capable of insight I believe dozens of modern anthropologists and social scientists have yet to discover...and her direct look at the way that power is manifested through alternative forms and agendas is matchless. In particular, her dicussion of the way in which women's modes of power work outside of the more studied realms reveals that resistance has a history and discourse all its own.
This book is definitely an excellent answer to those who want to view Islamic women as voiceless. And though the author attempts to show aspects of silence and veiling as manifestations of cultural distinction and identity, she is also quick to note in later chapters that it is Western influences that manage to increasingly isolate the veiled woman and reduce her realm of influence.
Provacative and intense, Abu-Lughod also has a touch of the poet in her, and this book reads easily. She wraps each intellectual argument in a thick blanket of anecdote and conversation, helping the reader create his/her own conclusions.
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By AA on September 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lila Abu Lughod, an Arab American woman, lived among the Awlad Ali tribes of the North West of Egypt for two years. Veiled Sentiments is the book she wrote on the lives and poetry of Awlad Ali. Abu Lughod field work was clearly not carried out from a "superior" stance; she sympathized with her subjects and dealt with them as equal human beings rather than inferior specimen or cultures. Abu Lughod attitude, intelligence, training and tremendous analystical ability helped her in developing great insight and understanding of this fascinating culture.

Abu Lughod analysis of concepts such as "hishma" was truly incisive and shed a great deal of light on the nature of modesty between women and men and amongst men and women. The analysis seems to explain behaviors and norms witnessed elsewhere in Egypt and indeed other parts of the Middle East.

An important thesis of Abu Lughod is that the Awlad Ali people often communicated in very conservative and modest way directly through words; they only said what was proper and fitted the norms. Yet a second mode of communication far more true and expressive was found in their little songs or poems.

Abu Lughod discussed gender relation amongst Awlad Ali at length and the relationship between women and the families of their husbands and the society at large. I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. For an excellent work on veiling and gender issues, I would recommend Leila Ahmed's Women & Gender in Islam.
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By A Customer on May 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
I agree with the other reviewers. It was the best ethnography I can remember reading. What struck a chord with me was her description and explanation of the women's submission to the men, that the submissiveness was valuable only when it was voluntarily given. The idea of women being submissive to men is not only Islamic, but exists also in Christianity.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I write thrillers and have a protagonist in Morocco and a Bedouin woman in Spain; I'd like the Bedouin to be a voice of Muslim feminism. When I started to look into feminism in Islam, Abu-Luhod's title caught my eye and I finally ordered the paperback after finding neither Kindle edition nor even a "Read inside". It is copyrighted in 1986, so I suppose that explains the lack of 'modern' reading tools. I was simply stunned at the quality of her writing and the flow of her prose. She is a seriously good writer.
Abu-Lughod spent nearly two years embedded in a Bedouin village in Egypt, studying poetry and the community of women that made up such a large part of the social structure of the village. Her observations about social customs and the traditions that underlie them is a marvelous read. She may not describe well the modern Bedouin woman as she has evolved over the past twenty-five years since publication of Veiled Sentiments, but her thinking is timeless and important.

Robert Cook[...][[[...]]]
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Format: Paperback
Veiled sentiments review

Veiled Sentiments is an ethnography written by Lila Abu-Loghod. Lila is of an Arab descendant and went to study the “Awlad Ali” society from October 1978 through to May 1980. The Awlad ‘Ali are a Bedouin tribe who originated from Libya but later migrated to the western desert of Egypt. In the ethnography, Lila discusses the links and clashes between ideas of honor and poetry. I use the word “honor” lightly as there are many meanings in which it can be interpreted in this certain specific society. In the Awlad ‘Ali, their modesty code mainly consists of modesty, shame and independence. Displaying any signs of sentiments or feelings expresses lack of modesty therefore leading them to lose status. This is the reason why they express their sentiments through the poems, which are called “Ghinnawas”. Throughout the ethnography, Lila portrays the different ways in which they express their sentiments and how it varies from their everyday language as opposed to the use of “Ghinnawas".
I would highly recommend this ethnography to people who are interested in the Arab culture as well as the way they live.
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