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Aestheticised Rituals and (Non-)Engagement with Norms in Contemporary Turkey

A Contribution to Discussions on Piety and Ethics

Erol Saglam

Drawing on an ethnographic research in some rural communities of Trabzon, Turkey, this article provides insights about the diversity of Islamic pieties and their relations to religious norms. An exploration of everyday Islamic practices in the area demonstrates how piety can take peculiar forms within which norms are both publicly and socially upheld and yet also hollowed out. Among Muslim men of ‘the Valley’ in Trabzon, piety emerges as an aggregate of reiterative practices exterior to the pious self. Highlighting the aestheticised and ritualised state of these engagements with Islam in the Turkish context allows discussion of the relationships among practices of piety, pious subjectivities, and ethics.

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Abdulla Al Sayyari, Fayez Hejaili, and Faissal Shaheen

rather than objecting to such discussions, in fact they enjoy them and get deeply involved with them. One good example of the interaction been the society’s norms and medical ethics can be seen in the field of organ transplantation. Social attitudes and

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Nose Aesthetics

Rhinoplasty and Identity in Tehran

Sara Lenehan

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.

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Islam, IVF and Everyday Life in the Middle East

The Making of Sunni versus Shi'ite Test-Tube Babies

Marcia C. Inhorn

In vitro fertilisation and even newer assisted reproductive technologies are part of everyday life in the contemporary Middle East. There, IVF is practised according to local Islamic norms, which have been reinforced by fatwas from lead- ing religious authorities. As this article will show, ideological differences between dominant Sunni and minority Shi’ite forms of Islam are currently shaping the practices of test-tube baby-making in the Muslim world, particularly regarding the use of third-party gamete donation and new technologies to overcome male infertility. Such divergences have led to gender transformations within infertile marriages in the Muslim Middle East, with potentially profound implications for women’s marital security and family formation.

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Rural Poverty in Jordan

Assessment and Characterisation

Mohamed Tarawneh and Abdel Hakim Al Husban

Adopting a qualitative anthropological approach, this report discusses and critiques dominant theoretical currents in the study of poverty and presents a more qualitative analysis of the topic. Through an examination of rural Jordan, new sets of concepts and calculations on poverty - both qualitative and quantitative - have been forged. The research indicates that poverty, as an economic fact, can easily be manipulated and treated as a numerical game. As a social fact, poverty is seen in terms of complex coping strategies that are managed within a framework of social norms.

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Atta ur Rehman Sheikh

Afghan society represents a wide spectrum of tribal and ethnic groups with generally strong patriarchal norms. Given this patriarchal structure, coupled with the predominant tribal value system, the honour of a tribe is closely attributed to its women, and the protection of women by secluding them is thus a continued practice and norm. The division of public and private spheres is strictly adhered to as a means to maintain and preserve the honour of the family or tribe. The forced migration of Afghans has resulted in drastic changes in Afghan women’s lives and produced tensions in the tribal and social structure. Due to the absence of customary social support networks, material difficulties and cases of shattered families have become worse, and women’s mobility and freedom have been even further curtailed. At the same time, the refugee situation, extending over two decades, has brought about several changes in terms of attitudes towards health, hygiene, literacy, education, skill training and customs, due to the developmental work of various relief agencies.

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The Mahalle as Margin of the State

Shifting Sensitivities in Two Neighbourhood Spaces of Istanbul

Urszula Woźniak

The neighbourhood-based battles over norms and values in the ethnically diverse as well as sexual and gendered urban landscapes of the Istanbul neighbourhood (mahalle) spaces of Tophane and Kurtuluş reflect the complexity of the current political transformations that have been shaping Turkey as a whole and Istanbul in particular before and after the 15 July 2016 coup attempt. The analysis of the mahalle as the state’s margin reflects on how public moral talk, including the notion of ‘sensitivity’ (hassasiyet), reverberates in the making of public morality in both neighbourhood spaces. This article specifically focuses on the role of rumours in mediating ideas on behaviour deemed as in/appropriate in the mahalle as ‘moral territory’ and the mundane practices of self-appointed old and new ‘guards’ of the mahalle.

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Jaro Stacul

At a time when European cities redefine themselves through 'culture' in an attempt to attract tourists, investors and potential residents, policymakers have to negotiate different notions of 'local culture' defined by state governments on the one hand and by the EU on the other. Drawing upon research conducted in the Polish city of Gdańsk in the context of the redevelopment of its urban landscape, the article illustrates how 'local culture' is redefined as 'culture of freedom' by municipal and state institutions in order to establish a relationship of historical continuity between the time when Gdańsk was a thriving multicultural city and the post-socialist present. The article puts forward the argument that while the reformulation of local culture as 'culture of freedom' involves reconciling notions of national identity with new norms of local, regional and European integration, it does not necessarily entail the supersession of nationalism.

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Introduction

Emerging Kinship in a Changing Middle East

Soraya Tremayne

Abstract

The introduction to this issue has two strands. First, it contextualises the articles, which address kinship from varied perspectives, and situates them in their broader cultural context. Second, it adopts a comparative perspective by differentiating between the present articles with those published a decade earlier on the same themes in this journal, to examine whether, how and to what extent kinship has changed in the face of modernity, globalisation, wars, migrations and political change. It concludes that, compared with a decade ago, kinship has not only not weakened, but it has revived further and penetrated other institutions beyond family, or called upon to ensure and protect the continuity of cultural norms and values, from the threats paused by modernity and by the global, cultural and political invasions.

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Aidarbek Kochkunov

This article analyses one of the most important components of Kyrgyz culture - the tradition and ritual of hospitality. Features of traditional and modern hospitality are examined on the basis of literary sources and the author's fieldwork. The hospitality ritual and the norms associated with guests are discussed first in their traditional and then in their modern aspects. The author argues that ethnic specificities have been maintained on a large scale. Gender and age in the organisation of meals, as well as the prestige of meat dishes, continue to have traditional character, and the importance of hospitality has been imparted to younger generations. The author concludes that the interaction of innovations and traditions constitute the main content, development and present characteristics of Kyrgyz customs and hospitality rituals.