anthro - Introduction Guest of the Sheik, by Elizabeth...

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Introduction Guest of the Sheik , by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, tells the journey of her two year stay in El Nahra, a rural village in Iraq. She is the wife of Bob Fernea, an anthropologist working toward his Doctorate degree. Although she was not an anthropologist, she also had reasons for going. While in Iraq, she collected data on the beliefs, customs, and daily lives of women in the Iraqi Village. She became a major asset to her husband, who was not permitted to converse with unfamiliar women. This book was divided into five different parts. Each part differed in length. The major points of the book were the different seasons, marriage traditions, division of labor, and religious beliefs. This book tells of the hardships she encountered while trying to associate with the women and becoming accustomed to their cultural differences. During the course of their stay, Elizabeth studied the way that women performed their duties and the daily interactions they took place in. Bob also lived amongst the men and studied their ways, and did library research for two weeks in Baghdad. The first few days were rough for both of them, as they encountered many setbacks, however, they were able to find friends and conduct complete research. Chapter 1 Elizabeth and Bob are venturing on their honeymoon, to El Nahra, Iraq. Their method of transportation consisted of a taxi that held six people, and spent two hours going ten miles. They were the guest of Sheik Hamid Abdul Emir el Hussein, the chief of the El Eshadda tribe. He offered them his first house, a mud hut. Before Elizabeth was able to get out of the taxi, she first had to put on her abayah , a black cloth cover that women wore over their face. This was to keep their faces only being seen by their husbands. That afternoon, their servant Mohammed came and purchased food for them. Also, Ali, another servant, delivered food from the women Sheiks 1
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house. He delivered enough food for many families, but the Fernea’s took it all. They were unaware of the Arab custom. They always served too much food, and the receiver only takes what is necessary, and the leftovers are distributed to women, children, and servants. This was just the beginning of their cultural differences. Chapter 2 The next day Beth and Bob go their separate ways for lunch. Bob was invited to eat at the Mudhif, while Beth was invited to the Harem. When Elizabeth arrived at the Harem, she was met by a group of women all covering their faces. Immediately they motioned her to sit on the chair, while the rest of the women were on the ground. When the last man left the Harem, the women were allowed to remove their abayah . Their conversation consisted mostly of gold and traditions. In El Nahra, gold is everything to women. A women’s jewelry is her insurance against a disaster. The community punishes those that attempt to steal it. After discussing gold, the topic of attractive women came up. To them, Beth was unattractive. She was too skinny, light skinned, and had to small of breast to make for a good wife. Chapter 3
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ANTHROPOLO 212 taught by Professor Haymes during the Spring '07 term at UNL.

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anthro - Introduction Guest of the Sheik, by Elizabeth...

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