Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village

1523 words 7 pages
Guests of the Sheik
1. You are Fatima, a middle-aged, middle-class woman in El Nahra, Iraq in 1954. You have met an American woman for the first time in your life, and have come to know her pretty well. But you just cannot understand how she can be happy living according to the American customs she has described to you. Construct Fatima’s argument for why the customs of Iraq, especially as they relate to gender roles and gender relationships, are vastly superior to those of the United States.
It is difficult for Fatima to comprehend the American way of living especially from a woman’s perspective. She sincerely believes that her way is better. For an Arabic woman, particularly in the rural Iraq in 1950’s, marriage is the only goal and
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Explain some of the NONRELIGIOUS reasons that veiling and seclusion of women could develop in the area. Why did veiling and seclusion NOT develop among the (precontact) Kung? NOTE: climate is not an issue (it gets to be l20 degrees in El Nahra in the summer); property and subsistence are.
As we learn from the book, El Nahra is predominantly an agricultural society. Most of the fellahin work on the tribal lands (at least until the soil started becoming salinized). And agriculture is predominantly male labor. Men toil in the fields while women cook, clean and grow children at home. This is quite the opposite from the Kung society where women are responsible for almost 70% of the subsistence by collecting and gathering. First of all, Kung women enjoy relative freedom in planning their trips. Second, they are the only ones responsible for distribution of what they have collected. This makes them more or less equal to men. And it will be almost impossible to gather food while wearing a veil or abaya which has no hooks or buttons and has to be held in place by hands, elbows or even a chin. On the other hand, women of El Nahra are most of the time completely depended on their men for sustenance. They spend almost all of their time inside their houses, waiting for their husbands to come home while taking care of the household.

Another reason would be the presence of property ownership. Most Kung can


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