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Mahdieh Vali-Zadeh

Much has been said about the influential role of Forough Farrokhzad (1934–1967) in developing a feminine language in modern Iranian love poetry. Despite this, scholars have not systematically or theoretically examined what I call ‘the poetics of individuation’ in Forough’s lyrics. The present article analyses Forough’s poetic and individual paths of development as two inevitably parallel and intertwined routes. The article theorises that by removing a pre-imposed patriarchal sense of sin with regard to feminine love, Forough deconstructed the masculine narrative of good poetry in five highly significant ways via the feminine and self gaze. The article concludes that the poet’s commitment to poetry as a platform of expression was a means of her liberation and individuation as an independent feminine poet with voice and agency.

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‘The Fire Does Not Disturb Us’

Navigating Love, Desire and Loss in the Qaṣīda Poetry of South Sinai Muzīna Women

Matthew Ryan Sparks

This article examines the contemporary qaṣīda poetry of South Sinai Muzīna Bedouin women from an anthropological perspective, drawing primarily upon a history of emotions framework, as well as Bedouin ethnographic studies and Arabic literary criticism. The article argues that the composition and vocalisation of qaṣīda poetry in South Sinai is more than a performative art; it is a means of ‘navigating’ one’s emotions as a woman in a patriarchal society where emotional expression for both men and women is deemed inappropriate. In the poetry of Nādiyyah and Umm ‘Īd, we gain insight into the subjective lived experience of Bedouin women in South Sinai, as they attempt to poetically express their desire, elation, grief and passion, while simultaneously demonstrating their ability to ‘control’ their emotional states.

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L’amour poétisé : genre, plaisir et nostalgie dans la poésie arabe et persane masculine, féminine et homoérotique

Corinne Fortier

English Abstract: While love passes for being a feeling born in the West in the twelfth century, love poetry, in its declamatory or sung form, appeared in the sixth century among the Bedouin of the Arabian desert before flourishing in the Arabic cities, then Persian and finally in Europe. Love passion, excessive in essence, can be said only in excess with its joys and its distress. The man who experiences this state of passion is feminized, finding in the medium of poetry a socially legitimate space to express his emotions, including jealousy, nostalgia or blasphemy. Singing the beauty of the beloved and the disorder she or he inspires is a way of acknowledging his emotional vulnerability and also a mode of love conquest. But if the language of predation can be found in heterosexual and homosexual Arabic or Persian masculine poetry, such language is absent from feminine poetry, this difference revealing the asymmetrical polarity of desire according to gender.

French Abstract: Alors que l’amour passe pour être un sentiment né en Occident au douzième siècle, la poésie amoureuse, sous sa forme déclamatoire ou chantée, est apparue dès le sixième siècle chez les Bédouins du désert d’Arabie avant de fleurir dans le monde arabe citadin, puis persan et enfin occidental. L’amour passion, excessif par essence, ne pouvant se dire que dans la démesure, le discours amoureux est l’expression toujours hyperbolique du pathos avec ses joies et ses détresses. L’homme qui éprouve cet état de passion est féminisé, trouvant dans le médium de la poésie un espace d’expression socialement autorisé pour exprimer ses émotions, y compris celles relatives à la jalousie, à la nostalgie ou au blasphème. Chanter la beauté de l’objet aimé et le trouble qu’il inspire est autant une manière d’avouer sa vulnérabilité affective qu’un mode de conquête amoureuse. Mais si le langage de la prédation est patent dans la poésie hétérosexuelle ou homosexuelle, un tel langage est absent de la poésie féminine, différence révélatrice de la polarité asymétrique du désir selon qu’on est homme ou femme.

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Corinne Fortier

English Abstract: Unlike numerous traditions, poetic inspiration of Moorish poets is not spiritual but carnal because it takes root in the desire for a woman, who taste like Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal. Love poems find their reason in the context of their production. In this case, the decisive moment of the meeting and the long-lasting impression it leaves on the poet. Love poems are not the privilege of a handful, they are primarly composed in the specific Arabic dialect (ḥassāniyya), with the aim of reaching the woman’s heart, like Bedouin Arabic pre-islamic poetry. So her first name, her body, her qualities and defects, from erotised become poetised.

French Abstract: À la différence de nombreuses traditions, l’inspiration poétique des poètes maures n’est pas spirituelle mais bien charnelle puisqu’elle s’enracine dans le désir pour une femme rencontrée, qui a le goût des Fleurs du mal de Baudelaire. Les poèmes d’amour, indissociables de l’itinéraire existentiel de son auteur, ne trouvent leur raison d’être que dans le contexte de leur production, en l’occurrence l’instant décisif de la rencontre amoureuse. Comme dans la poésie arabe antéislamique bédouine, la poésie amoureuse maure, composée dans le dialecte arabe local (ḥassāniyya), possède un but essentiellement pratique, gagner le coeur de l’aimée. Ainsi son prénom, son corps, ses qualités et ses défauts, d’érotisés deviennent poétisés.

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‘Men Don’t Cry Over Women’

Expressions of Love and Grief in Egyptian Popular Music

Ahmed Abdelazim

By examining mahragānāt, a genre of music common among the low-income working class in Cairo, and upper-class pop music, this article studies the expression of love and grief across socio-economic classes in Egypt. It challenges the mainstream argument that men, especially those belonging to lower socioeconomic classes, are expected to perform ‘like men’ and suppress their emotions and affection. These mahragānāt exhibit extreme affection and grief as men threat of inflicting self-harm or committing suicide if they lose their female lovers. This genre’s popularity on social media resonates with increasing suicide rates among lower socio-economic classes due to failed love affairs. By focusing on expressions of love in Egyptian music, this article suggests a dialectic relation between love, class and the understanding of masculinity.

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Khaled Al Siddiq

On behalf of the Scientific Committee of Anthropology of the Middle East, we would like to express our deepest regrets for the loss of pioneer film maker Khaled Al Siddiq on October 14th, 2021. Khaled Al Siddiq’s 1972 film, Cruel Sea won the Fipresi Prize at the Venice Film Festival and was also a prize winner at the Syrian Film Festival that year. This landmark film bought the Gulf Cinema Company, where Khaled was the director, widespread international acclaim. Al Siddiq’s other important films include The Wedding of Zein (1976) and Shaheen (1984). Our deepest condolences go to Dr. Zubeydenh Ashkanani, his wife, whose generous gift of the yearly eponymous prize awarded for best article of the year in the Anthropology of the Middle East is always well-received and much appreciated.

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Poetic Imagination

Love and Longing among Syrian Men in Exile in Amman

Emilie Lund Mortensen

In this article, I attend to poetic expressions of passionate longing for a beloved among displaced single Syrian men in the Jordanian capital of Amman. With a point of departure in the story and poetry of Qays, a 28-year-old Syrian man from Damascus, the article engages in an exploration of the poetic space engendered in the process of writing and reading poetry in exile. It demonstrates how longing found expression and relief in love poetry, as it enabled the young Syrian men to, momentarily, displace themselves to a different time and place, closer to the women they longed for. The poetry I thus argue, engenders and constitutes a creative space of possibility in which the impossible becomes possible in exile.

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Who Says Only Men Have a Beard?

Revisiting the Question of Gender Ambiguity in Persian Poetry

Fateme Montazeri

The presence of male homoeroticism in Persian poetry has long been noted. This sexual configuration is largely based on the conventional manner in which the beloved is described with male attributes, including a hairline above the lips or sideburns. Such readings assume a direct relationship between poetic topoi and external reality, and project, ahistorically, a modern aesthetic assumption onto premodern gender norms. This article argues that a male-associated rendition of the beloved, specifically in the case of the rhetorics of the facial hair that permeates the description of patrons, the divine and women alike, reveals not necessarily the sweetheart’s gender, but dominant perceptions of praiseworthy characteristics and the power dynamics that rule the rhetorics of premodern gender norms.

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Being There While Not Being There

Reflections on Multi-sited Ethnography and Field Access in the Context of Forced Migration

Laura K. McAdam-Otto and Sarah Nimführ

Multi-sited research has become a quality criterion for ethnographic research. This applies especially to studies on forced migration. Here, a site is often equated with a state, where researchers are usually required to be physically present. In this article, however, we ask: Must multi-sited research necessarily be multi-national? Do researchers have to be physically present at all sites? By discussing ethnographic material collected with forced migrants in Malta, we demonstrate that multi-sitedness is viewed in too narrow terms when site is equated with the nation-state. Adopting this approach also obscures refugees’ lived realities, their patterns of movement and their often truncated mobility. Instead, we carve out an understanding of multi-sited ethnography within one locality, introducing the concept of un-participated sites to include sites researchers are not able to physically visit. While the inaccessibility of sites is often inherent to ethnographic studies, it is all the more relevant for migration research.

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Britain, Brexit and Euroscepticism

Anthropological Perspectives on Angry Politics, Technopopulism and the UK Referendum

Cris Shore

When history books about Brexit are written a key question asked will be ‘how did it happen?’ How did a country renowned for stable governments, pragmatism and diplomacy produce a chaotic outcome so harmful to its economic interests and international standing? This article examines the factors that produced Brexit by analysing its political and historical context, the main campaign groups and their communication strategies. Drawing on the work of Verdery (1999), Maskovsky and Bjork-James (2020) and other anthropologists, I suggest we need to look beyond conventional political science concepts and consider Brexit in terms of ‘enchantment’, ‘angry politics’ and ‘technopopulism’. I conclude that while Brexit provides a window for analysing fault lines in contemporary Britain, it also highlights problems in the EU, its austerity politics and democratic deficit.