Anthropological debates on kinship in the Middle East have centred on the 'problems' of patriparallel cousin marriage and milk kinship. A focus on Middle Eastern reactions to assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilisation allows a fresh perspective on the study of kinship in the region. My own research has investigated Islamic legal reactions to assisted reproductive technologies and the practice of assisted reproduction in Lebanon. Islamic legal reaction is diverse, as are the uses made of these techniques by non-specialist Muslims. Considerations of propriety and public reputation remain uppermost, although matters of kinship are debated and new patterns and ideologies of relatedness are potentially emerging.
A Cross-Cultural Study
The main purpose of this article is to describe traditional breastfeeding practices among the pastoral tribes in the Middle East. It also examines beliefs and attitudes towards breastfeeding and related issues, including pregnancy, infections of the breast nipple, sources of milk, 'bad milk' syndrome and breastfeeding as a contraceptive method. The most significant findings are that mothers relate breastfeeding to their physical and psychological state. There are also symbolic and emotional relationships between human babies and the colostrum of animals. A survey of medicinal cures for problems related to breastfeeding reveals that these cures are based on substances found in the desert pastoral environment.
Past Achievements, Present State and Future Prospects
Kamyar Abdi, Marjan Mashkour, and Soheila Shahshahani
Anthropology of the Middle East has implicitly and explicitly been a journal with a regional orientation. Most previous issues, however, have added a thematic dimension to this regional orientation, and the same applies to this special issue. The chosen theme is anthropological archaeology, given the fact that this school in archaeology has been responsible for tremendous progress in Middle Eastern archaeology and has advanced our knowledge of the ancient Middle East by leaps and bounds. Anthropological archaeology has been a major player in Middle Eastern archaeology for the past half-century, and no other school in Middle Eastern archaeology can claim to have been immune from its influence, whether in matters of theory or, more visibly, in methodology.
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.
Strategies and Developments
David P. Shankland and Soraya Tremayne
The consideration of faith and ethnic minorities in the Middle East remains today, as it has been for some time, immensely relevant. In this issue, we see this subject approached from a refreshingly wide perspective. Yet, in spite of their diversity, the topics addressed by the contributors reflect many shared situations in today’s Middle East, and possibly beyond, which often have their roots in mass migration, war and conflict, and globalisation. Through their work, we see once more the way that anthropology is uniquely qualified to reflect upon the reformulation of cultures in the modern world whilst simultaneously highlighting the fate of those who fall between the interstices of dominant political paradigms.
Interactions between Fieldwork, Epistemology and Theory
despite the variations between the Kurdish populations, provide the Kurds with a specific identity. This has created a unique Kurdish geography with a distinct social dynamic in comparison with other regions in the Middle East. The nationalist movements
Emerging Kinship in a Changing Middle East
This issue is the outcome of a panel organised on ‘Emerging Kinship in Changing Middle East’, at a conference held by the Commission on the Anthropology of the Middle East in Krakow in 2016. But, this is also an opportunity to reflect on the marker
Feminist Networks across the Middle East and Europe
This article examines the emergence of transnational public spheres brought about by women activists in diasporas and countries of origin across Europe and the Middle East. Such activism can take various forms - networks, partnerships, transnational mobilisations against war or for advocacy - which, in turn, have an impact on the ability to provide women with new paths to emancipation. Although globalising states and societies are becoming more interconnected, demarcating inequalities and forms of governance still exist. Parameters based on territoriality and national citizenship reinforce the unequal access to resources that women experience around the globe and thus have a hand in shaping women's agendas. The article concludes that although women may be able to acquire empowering tools through feminist transnational networks, these tools are not always capable of dismantling boundaries or weakening old hierarchies.
Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Children in the Middle East
Erika Friedl and Abderrahmane Moussaoui
of a major anthropological journal explained; children and old people are not, as he said, ‘sexy’. For the contemporary Middle East, the political upheavals and crises and their sociocultural ramifications occupy social scientists and dominate