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Introduction

Kinship in the Middle East

Soheila Shahshahani and Soraya Tremayne

The study of kinship remains central to anthropology and to understanding the social world in which we live. Although key debates on kinship have stayed embedded in anthropological studies, the impact of global changes affecting marriage, divorce, family structure, and the inevitable consequences of the interaction between biotechnologies and social and cultural practices have all served to bring back kinship into anthropological discourse in a forceful way. As a result, there is a tendency to move away from the distinction between the biological and social aspects of kinship and to focus on emerging forms of relatedness and their broader implications. In such an approach, relatedness is viewed as a process that is fluid and mutable, and that is constructed through active human agency. It expands to include changing gender relations, new family forms and the outcome of assisted reproductive technologies.

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Editorial

Why Methodology?

Soheila Shahshahani

What is the state of anthropology in and about the Middle East? How can we assess this situation? The necessity of beginning a new journal comes from the fact that there is a lacuna in the field and those engaged in it claim they can overcome this. With regard to anthropology, we are dedicating this second issue to methodology because we feel certain that some problems in the field come from its methodology. If we discuss it directly and allow readers to critically reflect upon it, then we can take the next step. Questions that come to mind would include: Is the state of anthropology in the Middle East the same as elsewhere in the world? How is this situation related to its methodology? How is it related to the definition of the field in the area, and to its place among other social and human sciences within the state apparatus? Or could it also be comprehended as a function of the state of colonialism at large in the region?

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Editorial

Everyday Life in the Middle East

Soheila Shahshahani

Ever since the 1970s, when I attended a conference of the American Anthropological Association for the first time, a question had been with me: Why do anthropologists of the Middle East not have a common forum in the form of a journal or an anthropology association? Now, as Anthropology of the Middle East makes its debut, my belief in the need for such a publication has become even stronger.