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Editorial

Rural Anthropology of the Middle East

Soheila Shahshahani and Christian Bromberger

When proposing the theme ‘Rural Anthropology of the Middle East’, we never would have thought that such a variety of topics would be included in the issue. Despite the fact that a continuously decreasing proportion of people dwell in rural areas around the world, including the Middle East, rural people are proving to be resourceful in facing modernity. For this reason, a diversity of subjects can be studied in rural areas, as each village is unique and quite different from the others.

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Editorial

A Body Response to the Urban Middle East

Soheila Shahshahani

The urban Middle East is an archaeological and historical fact. Modernity has necessitated enlargement of these urban sites and has created many urban hubs, as well as different residential and professional allocations around previous sites. It has created new centres, yet it has also destroyed – through contemporary architecture and city planning, not to mention war and bombardment – some of its famous points of interest.

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Editorial

Unthemed Issue

Soheila Shahshahani

This issue of Anthropology of the Middle East is unthemed, but there is a definite continuity to its articles. Previously, we have had themed issues – for example, on kinship, migration, medical anthropology, Central Asia – and the articles here touch on the same topics, so they relate very well to earlier issues.

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Introduction

Migration within, from and to the Middle East

Sabine Strasser and Shahnaz R. Nadjmabadi

During the last few decades, the range of key anthropological issues in the Middle East has changed remarkably. Along with relations between tribes and states, nomadism, kinship, ethnic and national conflicts, and tensions caused by oil and water, today’s post-9/11 effects and diversifying patterns of migration have increasingly attracted scholarly interest. Although they have entered the field of migration studies surprisingly late, social anthropologists have recently amplified their participation in this booming research area, particularly in transnational studies.

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Religion, Identity and Minorities in the Middle East

Strategies and Developments

David P. Shankland and Soraya Tremayne

The consideration of faith and ethnic minorities in the Middle East remains today, as it has been for some time, immensely relevant. In this issue, we see this subject approached from a refreshingly wide perspective. Yet, in spite of their diversity, the topics addressed by the contributors reflect many shared situations in today’s Middle East, and possibly beyond, which often have their roots in mass migration, war and conflict, and globalisation. Through their work, we see once more the way that anthropology is uniquely qualified to reflect upon the reformulation of cultures in the modern world whilst simultaneously highlighting the fate of those who fall between the interstices of dominant political paradigms.

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Anthropological Archaeology in the Middle East

Past Achievements, Present State and Future Prospects

Kamyar Abdi, Marjan Mashkour, and Soheila Shahshahani

Anthropology of the Middle East has implicitly and explicitly been a journal with a regional orientation. Most previous issues, however, have added a thematic dimension to this regional orientation, and the same applies to this special issue. The chosen theme is anthropological archaeology, given the fact that this school in archaeology has been responsible for tremendous progress in Middle Eastern archaeology and has advanced our knowledge of the ancient Middle East by leaps and bounds. Anthropological archaeology has been a major player in Middle Eastern archaeology for the past half-century, and no other school in Middle Eastern archaeology can claim to have been immune from its influence, whether in matters of theory or, more visibly, in methodology.

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Editorial

Open-Themed Issues

Soheila Shahshahani

In the 1970s and 1980s, North and South Yemen appeared to be two states pursuing opposing, sometimes hostile, economic and political policies. Then, in 1990, they suddenly united. This article analyses sport diplomacy as an instrument in opening institutional contacts between the two governments and as a venue for conveying important socio-political and historical messages. Cross-border football contests reinforced the largely invented notion of a single Yemen derived from pre-Islamic kingdoms. This idea remains a foundation of Yemeni nationalism and a base of Yemeni national identity.

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Introduction

Central Asia

Aftandil Erkinov and Soheila Shahshahani

Unlike previous issues, the focus of this issue is not on a theme but on a geographical area. Thee reasoning behind this choice of topic is that since we are an anthropology journal, with culture being our primary concern, we aim to study the cultures of peoples regardless of political boundaries. Iran and Turkey have their own distinct histories and traditions, yet they share similarities and unity in culture, making it imperative for us to consider Central Asia. Although this special issue is dedicated to the region, topical articles about Central Asia will always be welcomed for future issues.

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Contributors

Notes on Contributors

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Introduction

Medical Anthropology of the Middle East?

Soheila Shahshahani and Mohammad Shahbazi

In a region in which everyday life is under different kinds of threat, issues related to health are of prime importance. Preserving life, which is the least human right to be respected, is the last resort, yet it seems human life is an insignificant matter. For example, in everyday discourse in Tehran, we o en hear, “Human life doesn’t count.” Within this local world view the opposite can also be observed: an obsessive preoccupation with aesthetic aspects of the human body (see AME, vol. 1, no. 1). In between lies all that can be studied by medical anthropologists.