In this article I provide a critique of historiography in Near Eastern archaeology and argue that forms of narrating the past are by necessity always political in nature. Current writing styles have a bias towards the upper classes of the past. I use this insight to elaborate on new ways of writing that shift the focus to different subjects of history. As a case study, I analyse discourses about evidence from fourth millennium Mesopotamia. Finally, I point out some alternative ways to approach historiography by asking new questions about old topics.
Between Knowledge of History and Historicising Knowledge
Class and Gender Dynamics among EU Civil Servants in Brussels
Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork between 2007 and 2011 in Brussels, this article shows how visual markers, class distinctions and classification of gender performances come together to create a ‘Euroclass’ among European civil servants. These markings, distinctions and classifications are denoted on bodily hexis and body performance and evoke stereotypes and essentialised representations of national cultures. However, after the enlargements of the EU in 2004 and 2007 they also reveal a postcolonial and imperial dynamic that perpetuates the division into ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe and enables people from old member states to emerge as a different class that holds its cultural power firm in a dense political environment permeated by networks.
The Santa Claus figure, the Christmas tree and decorations that are associated with this Christian holiday have been adopted by liberal consumers in Turkey, a Muslim country. These Turks envisage Santa Claus, in his trademark red suit, as a gift bearer on the occasion of New Year's Eve. This societal development has consolidated the cultural distance not only between the upper and lower classes but also between the established middle class and the flourishing, new conservative middle class. In protest, the religiously conservative have produced sombre 'alternative gatherings' to remind Turks of their Muslim heritage.
Transformations in Women's Kinship Practices among the Urban Middle Class in Fes, Morocco
For the middle class of Fes, Morocco, the traditional resources provided by kinship practices remain an important form of economic and social support in an increasingly globalised world. Women's significance in kinship networks not only highlights women's changing role in the Moroccan public sphere, but also indicates the flexibility of kinship principles once applied primarily to men. As more women have entered the public sphere for reasons of economics and education, the possibilities for their social networks have widened to include both relatives and non-kin.
Permanence et changements d'une génération à l'autre
It is the marriage records - from 1920 and later - of modest, working-class people living ordinary lives in Ispahan, Iran, that form the basis of this study. Not one of the various transactions engaged by (and for) marriage is properly intelligible within a social context if considered outside of the family. Nor are insights into matrimonial practices possible without a proper assessment of the hierarchy of events surrounding the marriage and the social processes and domestic groups concerned. For this reason we are led to place a certain number of marriages within the social and historical contexts that produced them from 1920 to 2008.
Maria Sabaye Moghaddam
Zâr denotes a class of spirits, the illness that they cause when descending upon a person and the ritual that is necessary to pacify the spirits and secure the alleviation of the patient's symptoms. The ritual involves holding a ceremony where incense, music and movement play a role in appeasing the Zâr to provide relief for the patient. This article, based on field studies carried out in 2007-2009, provides a current account of Zâr practices in Bandar Abbâs and Qeshm Island in Iran.
Iranian Women and Cosmetic Nose Surgery
In this article, the author investigates, from an anthropological point of view, why many Iranian women (and even some men) resort to rhinoplasty – that is, surgery to alter the appearance of the nose – for cosmetic purposes. When did this phenomenon begin in Iran? Which social classes and ages are concerned? What is the relationship between this practice and Iranian society in general? Is it the result of foreign cultural influences? What comparisons can be made with other cultures? Born of a micro-sociological case, these interrogations address the anthropology of Iranian society, which, like many others, has been engaged for several decades in an ‘exchange process’ that today is commonly known as globalisation.
Rhinoplasty and Identity in Tehran
Tehran currently hosts one of the largest rhinoplasty markets in the world, and rhinoplasty is the most sought after cosmetic surgery in the country. This article examines whether the rhinoplasty trend reflects a shift in Iranians' attitudes towards their ethnic and cultural identity. It is argued that fashion and beauty norms in Tehran are certainly informed by globalised images, but these are mediated by Iranian moralities of prestige, image consciousness and class awareness. Thus, while many of the persons interviewed described 'Iranian noses' as aesthetically inferior to 'European noses', their statements were not necessarily coupled with a desire to negate Iranian identity.
For centuries poetry was the most important arts genre in Central Asia. In order to be recognised as a member of the educated classes, it was obligatory to learn hundreds of poems. Even the Soviet regime (1922-1991) exploited the Uzbek people's love of poetry for its own political ends - the propagation of communist ideology. However, linked to the processes of globalisation, interest in poetry has diminished considerably in Uzbekistan over the past several years. People have become less attracted to the romance of poetry than to actual business, benefits and material values. To modern Uzbek society, poems come only in the form of lyrics for popular music. Globalisation has made poetry a minor genre among the Uzbek arts. To be a poet had been a respected profession for centuries. Now it has lost its prestige, as former poets turn to other occupations.
This article examines the interface between modernity and traditional cultural values. It suggests that Iranian society, in spite of its Islamic theocratic regime, is on one level an open society and has shown a surprising degree of flexibility in adapting to change. Yet on another level, Iran remains a closed society with strong cultural ties that act as unifying factors controlling the boundaries of interaction between the old and the new. One of the manifestations of the deep-rooted values that determine the form and extent of the acceptance of modernity is the consideration of one’s ‘face’ in public. ‘Face’ acts as a regulating agent directing the choices people make vis-à-vis societal change. The article concludes that social interactions and decisions taken by individuals in all public aspects of their lives, regardless of class, age, ethnic origins or gender, continue to be profoundly influenced by ‘face’.