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Women and Sexuality in Contemporary Iran

When HIV Meets Government Morality

Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi

In Iran, as in many countries worldwide, misinformation and ignorance of HIV/AIDS have encouraged a culture of secrecy and anonymity for those living with HIV. For many HIV-positive women, religious, political and economic pressures complicate their social status and access to health care. Moreover, they must contend with societal discrimination and stigmas associated with the condition. Adding nuance to contemporary studies on gender and sexuality in Iran, this report highlights the colourful narratives of a select group of HIV-positive mothers attending weekly wellness workshops in Tehran. Discussing issues of intimacy, modesty, motherhood and stigmatisation, this article explores one of Iran's expanding communities at risk of infection and the ways in which women with HIV negotiate the stigma of their condition in an Islamic Republic.

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Attraction, Amusement, and Anxiety

Aging Women in Varanasi

Sheleyah A. Courtney

This article explores socio-cultural practices with regard to aging women in Vārānāsī, a city in North India. It is based on 17 months of field research carried out in 1999-2000 among marginalized Hindu women. I argue that aging is a continuous process that is characterized by the specific psychological patterns that form throughout a woman's life history. These patterns are demonstrated by women's particular types of behaviors and demeanors and, in turn, permit others to ascribe to them—in varying combinations and ratios—specific cultural values or qualities. I argue that these attributes are the critical ones that inform the cultural construction and designation of being 'middle-aged' and 'older' as it pertains to Hindu women of Vārānāsī.

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Tal Meler

In the last three decades, Palestinian society within Israel has been undergoing changes in different spheres, with trends of change and preservation evolving simultaneously. Changes in the familial sphere include a rise in the divorce rate and, accordingly, in the number of single-parent families. Despite the increase in the number of single-parent family units headed by women, this pattern has barely gained legitimacy. As single mothers, divorced Palestinian women are subjected to considerable criticism and supervision on the part of their families. In this article I examine the reasons why Israeli-Palestinian women seek divorce, arguing that they reflect co-existing trends. While some reasons can be defined as traditional, others illustrate a process of change related to the adoption of values and images deriving from the Western romantic love ethos. The article is based on data gathered in semi-structured, in-depth interviews conducted and analyzed with a commitment to the principles of feminist research.

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Mireia Comas-Via

The social status of married women clearly changed when their husbands died. If we focus on the difficulties that widowhood entailed for women in Barcelona in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, we must include an analysis of their economic situation. The threat of poverty was constant, and in most cases, widows found it difficult to survive. It must be said that this direct link between poverty and widowhood existed only in the case of women: widowers were not similarly embattled. In other words, this was a sort of gendered poverty, because it was their status as “women without a man” that relegated widows to the social condition of the poor. Depending on their economic and social realities, the ways in which widows faced the inherent problems of widowhood and their ability to solve them were completely different.

*Article translated by Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel, Universitat de Barcelona,

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'Their Hearts Melted and Became as Water'

Lamentations – Ethics after Auschwitz

Victor Jeleniewski Seidler

There is a movement from the impersonal towards a more personal voice that is figured through the widow and so through some sense of the feminine. Is it through the feminine that we can know loss and so give voice to sorrow?

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Andrei S. Markovits

This is not the place for me to express my boundless admiration for

the scholarship of our dear friend and colleague, Gerald Feldman,

who passed from this world far too early in the fall of 2007. Nor

would I find it appropriate to address my personal friendship with

Gerry in these pages. I have done both elsewhere and—most important

to me—privately to Gerry's widow, Norma. Nevertheless, I do

find it more than appropriate to mention Gerry's involvement with

German Politics and Society. I was deeply moved and much honored

by Jeff Anderson's request to do so.

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Securing Intergenerational Kin Relationships and a House of One's Own

Muslims' Ways of Ageing Well in Kerala, India

Willemijn de Jong

The author explores trajectories of creating well-being with regard to old age in a poor Muslim community in Kerala, India. Theoretically, she draws on the nonstate-led concept of 'inclusive social security' and links it with the anthropology of the house. In doing so she takes approaches of 'making' kinship, gender, age as well as citizenship into account. Care and respect for the elderly result from strong but gendered intergenerational kin relationships in and around the house, which they establish for a large part themselves. Governmental and civil provisions play an enabling or supplementary role. Elderly women, particularly widows, benefit from property relationships that are less gendered. Surprisingly, there is a remarkable tendency of creating house ownership, and thus of bargaining power, for women in this community. It is suggested that this is effected by a combination of Muslim inheritance rules, recent dowry-giving practices and Kerala's matrilineal history.

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Philip Nord

The interwar years have been characterized as a “watershed” in the history of French Catholicism,1 and it is not hard to see why. The Church had experienced the first decades of the Third Republic as a time of trial and persecution. World War I, however, gave believers reason to look forward to a brighter future. The republican establishment had welcomed the political representatives of Catholic opinion into the Union sacrée. The distress of soldiers and war widows had nourished a revival of popular faith.2 With the return of peace, the Catholic laity plunged into an associational activism of unprecedented proportions. The vaulting edifice of voluntary bodies they constructed reenergized the faith and at the same articulated a Catholic countervision of the proper constitution of la cité.

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Eugene Heimler

A Hero of the Twentieth Century

Miriam Bracha Heimler

Eugene Heimler, writer, psychiatric social worker, Hungarian survivor of Auschwitz, Buchenwald and other concentration camps, created an approach whereby frustration is used as potential for creative, satisfying action. In his book Night of the Mist (and other books), he wrote about his experiences in the camps ( He answers his question ‘On what does it depend whether we are defeated by life or whether we succeed?’ by saying that human beings need meaning and purpose. The Heimler Method of Social Functioning is about integrating frustrating experiences as useful elements in the present and potentially satisfying elements for the future. An integral part of the method is the Heimler Scale, a tool that measures satisfactions and frustrations and highlights the potential of a person. Pain and suffering are motivating forces that we need in order to function successfully. During a recent visit to Szombathely, Dr Heimler’s hometown, his widow launched his first volume of Hungarian poetry.

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Jonathan Magonet

We celebrate in this edition two closely related events. The fortieth anniversary of this journal is a remarkable landmark, particularly given the short-lived nature of intellectual journals within the British Jewish community. That it is still around is a tribute to the commitment of a few dedicated editors and supporters, in particular Albert and Evelyn Friedlander, who between them in earlier years did almost everything from editing, to maintaining mailing lists, to posting and packing to storing large quantities of back issues in the basement of Westminster Synagogue. One reason for the survival has been the readiness of our publishers, Polak and van Gennep (1966–87), Pergamon Press (1987–93) and Berghahn Books (1994–) to support a journal with a small but influential circulation. In each case it was a particular individual who made this possible: in the early years Johan Polak, who is recalled in a memoir by Jackie Senker, the widow of Michael Goulston, the first managing editor; Dr Elisabeth Maxwell who persuaded Pergamon, one of the publishing companies of her husband Robert Maxwell, to take it on; and Marion Berghahn, who accepted it in the early stages of her own publishing venture. (Further background is recorded in an editorial in the Spring 1994 issue.) Without their recognition of the significance of such a journal and generous support it would have long since joined the ranks of other short-lived experiments.