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Introduction

Ecology and Migration in the Middle East

Soheila Shahshahani

Abstract

In this special issue, not only is the human-environment relationship addressed with a few types of environmental adaptations in rural and urban contexts, including governmental measures and disaster situations, but also the process of culture making is explored through the use of vocabularies in forming mind sets. In this way, a wide spectrum of ideas and situations is portrayed, and the role of culture in making these processes meaningful is shown. The articles in this issue concern Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and they also consider migration. While environmental problems are partial causes for migration, yet symbolic reference to parts of that same environment can symbolise the lost land. The role of poetic language is seen here, while poetry itself becomes a means of better adaptation for a migrant.

Restricted access

An Appraisal of Our Situation in Anthropology and Some Suggestions on Improvement

Soheila Shahshahani

As from this issue of Anthropology of the Middle East, we are planning a new section, open to all readers, to share their academic experience in the Middle East. For those of us working in the region, anthropology has been a difficult field to get established and to contribute its share to the academia of the Middle East and from there to the academia and the public in the Middle East, and to the world of anthropology at large. We have had a variety of difficulties, as you will see in this text, and when we mention them, we realise anthropologists in some other countries far and wide have had similar experiences. Here, we propose to open an arena for expression and discussion with the hope of facilitating the road for younger anthropologists. In doing so, we shall not be pointing the finger at any one person or academic institutions, but wish to adopt a more comprehensive and holistic approach in addressing and solving our problems, and suggesting some solutions.

Open access

Editorial

Reinventing Anthropological Topics

Soheila Shahshahani

Abstract

In this issue of AME you have articles which are within established anthropological topics. What is new in them is first, new data from the field, second, new search within old data, and finally new perspective of researchers from the area. So, while kinship, law, methodology, archaeology remain the pillars of our field, they are “reinvented” through new research by scholars some of whom are from the area. Syria, Iraq, and Iran are presented, and Kordish studies relates to all countries which have a Kord population. Our journal being concerned with culture and not political borders, we include an exquisite article on emblems in Uzbekistan which proves the persistence of cultural similarities in symbols from the Middle East and Central Asia.

Open access

Identity in Sensible and Ephemeral Experiences

Religion, History, Society and Politics Revisited through Everyday Life Practices, Tourism, Symbols and Rituals

Soheila Shahshahani

Abstract

In this introduction I try to bring together the commonalities of articles which are about many different topics, including food, nationalism, rituals, the creation of icons, the importance of tourism, language, and celebrations that give meaning to the lives of very diverse people. Perhaps the Middle East as the crescent of civilisation can be comprehended in a nutshell in this collection of articles, which are written mostly by anthropologists but also by a political scientist and sociologists, to show the viability of methodology of anthropology.

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Editorial

Edited by Soheila Shahshahani

Free access

An Appraisal of Participant Observation Methodology

Soheila Shahshahani

Abstract

All different sciences are defined in a specific way. It is not enough to define anthropology as a science that has studied human beings at all times and all places. It is the methodology of anthropology that is unique and increasingly appreciated by other fields. With the spread of COVID-19, as displacement became a problem, for the researcher and for those s/he had to be with, this methodology was temporarily put into question: social media or simply telephone contacts to gather data was used. The collection of articles in this issue reconfirms that it is through participant observation that the researcher can diligently and exhaustively study a topic or shine new light upon well-studied topics. Our topics are varied this time, some papers are from different fields, our methodology remains the same.

Restricted access

Wedding Ceremony in Turmoil

Soheila Shahshahani

Ceremonies are a very important part of Iranian life. They have definite order, ritual and objects associated with them. The political and economic situation of individuals taking part in a ceremony mark them, and if there are various classes, positions and gender, they are all markers of ceremonies. To study any topic in terms of the duality of traditional and modern versions has become banal and too simplistic. Looking at one single ceremony, indeed even looking at only a few hours of a ceremony can show how malleable are the boundaries of a ceremony, to be affected by many factors. Regarding the few hours that I am reporting about, the following factors are involved: an earthquake; the Islamic Revolution and the reactions to it; satellite television; and consumer goods; as well as changes in people’s way of life that have affected the availability of time, the availability of space, and, finally, the place of the visual, the centrality of the camera in organising a ceremony in a way that it can be recorded in an acceptable manner for later viewing. Responding to all these changes and trying to hold together a very important ceremony and a number of people who must be kept together through ceremonies is what gives the following its meaning and urgency of its reporting.

Free access

Editorial

Open-Themed Issues

Soheila Shahshahani

In the 1970s and 1980s, North and South Yemen appeared to be two states pursuing opposing, sometimes hostile, economic and political policies. Then, in 1990, they suddenly united. This article analyses sport diplomacy as an instrument in opening institutional contacts between the two governments and as a venue for conveying important socio-political and historical messages. Cross-border football contests reinforced the largely invented notion of a single Yemen derived from pre-Islamic kingdoms. This idea remains a foundation of Yemeni nationalism and a base of Yemeni national identity.

Free access

Editorial

Unthemed Issue

Soheila Shahshahani

This issue of Anthropology of the Middle East is unthemed, but there is a definite continuity to its articles. Previously, we have had themed issues – for example, on kinship, migration, medical anthropology, Central Asia – and the articles here touch on the same topics, so they relate very well to earlier issues.

Free access

Editorial

A Body Response to the Urban Middle East

Soheila Shahshahani

The urban Middle East is an archaeological and historical fact. Modernity has necessitated enlargement of these urban sites and has created many urban hubs, as well as different residential and professional allocations around previous sites. It has created new centres, yet it has also destroyed – through contemporary architecture and city planning, not to mention war and bombardment – some of its famous points of interest.