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Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society (updated with a new preface)

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  828 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Updated Edition With a New Preface

Lila Abu-Lughod lived with a community of Bedouins in the Western Desert of Egypt for nearly two years, studying gender relations and the oral lyric poetry through which women and young men express personal feelings. The poems are haunting, the evocation of emotional life vivid. But her analysis also reveals how deeply implicated poetry an
Paperback, 356 pages
Published March 31st 2000 by University of California Press (first published 1986)
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Feb 25, 2011 Jayme rated it really liked it
First off I loved this book. I read through it almost (not quite but almost) as one does through fiction. Lila Abu-Lughod's concentrated account of Bedouin life, from her semi-internal perspective, is beautiful.

My eyebrows did raise in irritiation during the first chapter. I anticipated a dry, highly academic analysis of a people group. I was not looking forward to this. And in the first chapter of method-explanation, Abu Lughod does use that certain--often obnoxious--bank of anthropological voc
A popular work among undergraduate anthropology students, and for good reason. Like Karen McCarthy Brown's "Mama Lola", it contains reflexive anthropology, as the ethnographer is both friend and observer of her interlocutors. Feminists who view Islam as a religion oppressive of women should read this for an alternative perspective that comes from the heart of Muslim women themselves. The most fascinating segment of this ethnography is the discussion of Bedouin men and women's use of spoken poetr ...more
أميرة هاني
Jul 30, 2015 أميرة هاني rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender
May 25, 2015 Colin added it
This year I've read a lot about "honour" in ancient Rome, and at various other junctures in human history. Nothing has been as thought-provoking as I remember Lila Abu-Lughod's book being when I read it some 5 years ago. Maybe I should read it again. There is not as much on poetry here as a literary critic might like to see -- indeed, I felt like I needed to read something else on Arabic poetic traditions to understand not the points the author makes, but why she emphasizes them as she does. On ...more
Rachel Terry
Nov 13, 2008 Rachel Terry rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The author lived with the Awlad 'Ali Bedouin tribe for two years, 1978-1980 while she was working on anthropology graduate work. Even though I'm sure the differences between modern Bedouins and ancient Middle Easterners is vast, I felt like I was reading an ethnography of Old Testament people, which was very helpful and interesting. The first half of the book gives a cultural context and the last half places everyday ghinnawa poetry in that context. Expanded my understanding.
Mary Rose
Feb 08, 2014 Mary Rose rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-university
I can't deny that this book is well written, and I would call it a must-read for anyone who wants a female perspective on the Bedouin people, but I really couldn't get into it. I don't want to be one of those White Western Feminists who looks down on other societies, but page after page on female subservience to men does get a little exhausting after a while. It wasn't my cup of tea, and I read it for a class, but if you're interested in the subject matter definitely pick up a copy.
Dianeo Omari
Mar 09, 2016 Dianeo Omari rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, descriptive, and insightful ethnography. It really opens your eyes up to cultural relativism, and provokes thought on the purpose behind beliefs and practices of the Bedouin society in the context of the deserts in Western Egypt. I really enjoyed reading this for my first anthropology course. It not only made me more interested in the field of study, but I feel more open-minded and understanding in my own life.
Mar 29, 2013 Lani rated it really liked it
An academic and somewhat dry book about Bedouin society that I accidentally stole from my womens studies professor. It's been quite awhile since I read it, but I do remember that the topic is the book's saving grace. Bedouin culture and their way of expressing themselves was engrossing, and I enjoyed learning more.
Jamie is
Sep 01, 2007 Jamie is rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anthropologists, and not really those who have a general interest in arab cultures
Shelves: favebooks
loved abu lughod's musings on bedouin culture and her interaction with it, as well as the poetry which she recorded. however, the use of the veil as a metaphor or main theme for middle eastern cultures is hackneyed and misguided and is the reason why i removed a star from my rating.
Jun 30, 2009 Brad rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthropology
Very tight analysis linking kinship, ideology and oral narrative. An excellent introduction to ethnographic writing for undergrads and forms part of the conversations on the ethnography of speaking, or text, texture and context of oral narrative.
Jan 09, 2011 Crystal rated it really liked it
Beat some of the points to death, but overall it wasn't a bad read. It was enlightening and thought-provoking. If I had more time, I'd like to read more about the Bedouin society as they seem to be a fascinating people.
Jackie Cook
Sep 06, 2015 Jackie Cook rated it liked it
3.5 Stars.

An interesting and well-written insight into another culture.
I couldn't finish this book
Birgitte Bach
Jun 21, 2014 Birgitte Bach rated it really liked it
Uhyre interessant bog, men møg svær at læse.
Vashti Puls
Jun 25, 2009 Vashti Puls rated it really liked it
I shouls have been poor there. Alot of the same type restrictions for women in my strict Catholic family.
May 17, 2008 Joann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthropology
This is a beautiful book and will totally change your understanding of the veiling practices of certain cultures. Read with an open mind.
Mar 21, 2009 Danielle rated it it was amazing
Very good ethnography and one of the few that is pleasant to read.
Jun 21, 2013 Maitha rated it liked it
I liked it but the one thing that kept me hesitant throughout the book is that she wrote it without the Awlad Ali's permission.
Jul 24, 2007 Steven rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: culturalstudies
This was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. If you have ever wanted a deeper understanding of the Bedouins or the Muslim practice of veiling, you should read this.
Sabra rated it really liked it
Jul 12, 2007
Sam Fishel
Sam Fishel rated it liked it
Dec 28, 2016
Denise rated it liked it
Aug 27, 2011
Erica rated it liked it
Jan 31, 2013
Kiana Smith
Kiana Smith rated it it was amazing
Jun 09, 2014
Amina rated it really liked it
Jul 02, 2015
David rated it it was amazing
Mar 08, 2009
Erik rated it really liked it
Aug 21, 2012
Shaylen Hedington
Shaylen Hedington rated it it was ok
Oct 08, 2016
Medelin Eliise
Medelin Eliise rated it liked it
Jul 01, 2016
Emma Weaver
Emma Weaver rated it really liked it
Jul 05, 2015
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Lila Abu-Lughod was born to Palestinian academic Ibrahim Abu-Lughod and American sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod in 1952. She obtained her PhD from Harvard University in 1984. She is is an American with Palestinian and Jewish ancestry who is professor of Anthropology and Women's and Gender Studies at Columbia University in New York City. A specialist of the Arab world, her seven books, most based on ...more
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