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Morgan Clarke

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.

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Aref Abu-Rabia

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.

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Anthropological Archaeology in the Middle East

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.

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Reforming universities in the Middle East

Trends and contestations from Egypt and Jordan

Daniele Cantini

This article addresses the core-periphery nexus by looking at some of the reform packages proposed in the 2000s in these two pivotal countries in the Middle East, Egypt and Jordan, as well as the resistances they generated. These reform packages include internationalisation and privatisation policies, as well as World Bank–sponsored programmes intended to enhance the higher education sector. These programmes are marked by a high degree of isomorphism with global trends: they belong to an unquestioned centre, with peripheries as receiving points of policies elaborated elsewhere. In this article, I examine some of the resistances they were met with in Egypt and Jordan and show how their translations were shaped by the logics of the local contexts so that they were rarely implemented. Looking at post–Arab Spring developments, the article reflects on the continuity of reform packages amidst political turmoil, and the ways in which these reforms are altering or reinforcing processes of peripheralisation.

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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.

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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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Italy in the Middle East and the Mediterranean

Evolving Relations with Egypt and Libya

Elisabetta Brighi and Marta Musso

The Mediterranean and the Middle East have long constituted an important “circle” in Italy’s foreign policy, with Egypt and Libya playing a particularly important role. During 2016, two sources of tension emerged in Italy’s relations with these countries. The first reflects a wider European situation. Like the rest of the EU, Italy has followed strategic interests—on migration, energy, and security—that sometimes conflict with the promotion of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, which the EU claims to promote in its external relations. The Regeni affair, involving a murdered Italian graduate student, exemplified this tension. The second source results from the role of corporate interests in Italy, especially those of oil and energy companies, in relation to the country’s “national interests.” Italian foreign policy toward both Libya and Egypt seems to have been driven by a combination of somewhat overlapping but also divergent national and corporate interests.

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Camila Pastor de María y Campos

English abstract: Framing current mobilization in the Middle East through the social metamorphosis of the last two hundred years underscores transformations afforded by the region's participation in the making of a global, institutional, productive, and ideological modernity. This paper explores the emergence of new social agents and the social movements they have sought and precipitated. Ottoman modernity was characterized by fierce debates and the emergence of new activities and public spaces, which afforded the mobilization of established and novel social agents. These debates were forcefully suspended by mandate administrations and their local collaborators. The process of decolonization in mid-century and the wave of revolutions that unfolded in its wake brought historically marginal sectors to power in much of the region, who institutionalized their own visions of the common good. This paper presents a critical overview of the forms mobilization has taken in the region over the past decades-the social landscape and the dynamics of mobilization that have afforded the revolts and revolutions unfolding today. Finally, I discuss coverage of the uprisings in the Arab and international online press, pointing to synergies and gaps evidenced in interpretations of women's participation in the riots and the Islamist presence in postrevolutionary consolidation processes.

Spanish abstract: Al enmarcar la movilización actual en el Medio Oriente a través de la transformación social de los últimos dos siglos destacan los cambios que hicieron posible la participación de la región en la creación de una modernidad global institucional, ideológica y productiva. El texto explora el surgimiento de nuevos actores sociales y los movimientos sociales que han buscado y precipitado los cambios. La modernidad otomana se caracterizó por sus debates acalorados y el surgimiento de nuevos espacios y actividades públicas que facilitaron la movilización de actores sociales nuevos y viejos. Estos debates fueron suspendidos por las administraciones mandatarias y sus colaboradores locales. El proceso de descolonización de mediados del siglo XX y la ola de revoluciones que se produjeron en su estela llevaron a sectores históricamente marginados al poder en gran parte de la región, quienes institucionalizaron sus propias visiones del bien común. El texto presenta una mirada crítica de las formas adoptadas por la movilización en las últimas décadas, el paisaje y la dinámica de movilización social que hacen posibles las revueltas y revoluciones que tienen lugar hoy día. Para concluir, se discute la cobertura de las revueltas en la prensa virtual árabe e internacional, señalando como puntos de encuentro y desencuentro las interpretaciones de la participación de las mujeres en las revueltas y de la presencia islamista en los procesos de consolidación posrevolucionaria.

French abstract: L'analyse des mobilisations populaires actuellement en cours au Moyen-Orient à travers les métamorphoses sociales survenues dans les deux siècles derniers, met en évidence les transformations offertes par la participation de la région dans la réalisation d'une modernité globale institutionnelle, productive et idéologique. Le document explore l'émergence de nouveaux acteurs sociaux et les mouvements sociaux qu'ils ont poursuivi et précipité. La modernité ottomane a été caractérisée par des débats houleux et l'émergence de nouvelles activités et espaces publics qui facilitaient la mobilisation des acteurs sociaux établis et nouveaux. Ces débats ont été suspendus par les administrations mandataires et leur collaborateurs locales. Le processus de décolonisation au milieu du vingtième siècle et la vague de révolutions qui se sont déroulés dans son sillage ont mené secteurs historiquement marginaux au pouvoir dans une grande partie de la région, mêmes qui ont institutionnalisé leurs propres visions du bien commun. Le document présente un aperçu critique des formes pris par la mobilisation dans la région au cours des dernières décennies, le paysage social et la dynamique de mobilisation qui ont possibilité les révoltes et les révolutions qui se déroulent aujourd'hui. Pour conclure, je discute la couverture des soulèvements dans la presse virtuelle arabe et internationale, en soulignant comme points de divergence et synergie les interprétations autour de la participation des femmes dans les insurrections et la présence islamiste dans les processus de consolidation post-révolutionnaire.

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Research Methodology in Kurdish Studies

Interactions between Fieldwork, Epistemology and Theory

Mehmet Orhan

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

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Esther Hertzog

Jewish and Arab Women in a Patriarchal World In this essay, I discuss anthropological perspectives on documentary films exploring the lives of women in the Middle East by elaborating on two films. These documentaries describe two different