Ideas about childhood and children’s experiences in a tribal area in southwest Iran have been changing along with major local sociopolitical relations over the past century quite in accordance with the functionalist model of education and socialization. However, in the most recent stage – a globalizing, consumer-driven society in a closed, totalitarian political system – child-rearing prepares children to have great aspirations and be dedicated consumers without furnishing opportunities and habits to attain the one and sustain the other. The ethnographic details about this development described in this article in the format of three stages are based on longitudinal anthropological fieldwork in Boir Ahmad over 50 years.
Explanatory Models, Philosophies and Behaviour
Analysis of my ethnographic data on medical popular culture in tribal south-west Iran, mostly from 1965 to 1983, suggests several traditional explanatory models and philosophical tenets that guide approaches to health issues. Empirical knowledge of natural processes motivates people to observe their bodily requirements. The belief in God's autocratic power is tempered with God's purported wish that people use their abilities to take responsibility for their health, complicating the notion of 'fate'. The various models provide health management choices. Traditionally, patients and healers shared these models, acting on the same cosmological assumptions.
Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Children in the Middle East
Erika Friedl and Abderrahmane Moussaoui
For several reasons there exist only relatively few ethnographic studies of children in the Middle East or in the diaspora. Accordingly, the articles in this issue of Anthropology of the Middle East represent thematically and theoretically highly divergent projects, all based on ethnographic topics and methodologies. Geographically they encompass different locations, and thematically they range from the history of childhood in Iran to matters of socio-cultural integration in Austria; from legal matters concerning youths in Algeria to socio-psychological problems of schoolchildren in Lebanon and to parent-child dynamics in Morocco. The short research, book and conference reports in this issue emphasize approaches and topics in critical anthropology as applied to the Middle East.
Erika Friedl and Reinhold Loeffler
This article is an ethnographic dissection of ideas pertaining to eschatology in a Shi’a Muslim tribal area in Iran that reveals the syncretistic possibilities in lived Islam, the generosity of the local culture regarding matters of religion, and individuals’ motivations for selecting certain possibilities to think about death and the afterlife. A common theme is for people to look at religious tenets as they pertain to this-worldly relations and can be approached with empirical experiences, all within the general frame of a regulated universe created by a merciful, understanding God. Research for this discussion stretched across 50 years in Iran.
Publications and Films
Erika Friedl and Soheila Shahshahani
Hegland, Mary Elaine (2014), Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village (Stanford: Stanford University Press), 316 pp., two maps, nine photographs; glossary, notes, bibliography, index, ISBN: 978-0-8047-7570 (cloth) U.S. $95.00; ISBN: 978-0-8047-7568-7 (pbk.) U.S.$27.95.
Hush, Girls Don’t Scream by Pouran Derakhshandeh (2013)
Political Transformation and Recent Ethnographic Fieldwork in Iran
Mary Elaine Hegland and Erika Friedl
In the 1970s social cultural anthropology in Iran was beginning to flourish. However, with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the subsequent Islamic Republic of Iran, fieldwork in Iran became extremely problematic. Foreign anthropologists faced formidable obstacles to obtaining visas and permits. Anthropologists working inside Iran were also discouraged from anthropological participant observation. As a result, during the post revolutionary period, few anthropologists have been conducting fieldwork in Iran. Recently, some hopeful signs for a possible reestablishment of anthropology can be noted, among them the return of young Iranian anthropologists, from countries where they have grown up and gained an education, to their homeland for dissertation research. This article discusses the influences on fieldwork of politics—international, national and local—and projects, problems and strategies of some anthropologists who have conducted recent ethnographic fieldwork in Iran.