Writing Women's World - the Bedouin Women

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Date Submitted: 09/13/2012 01:14 PM

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Writing Women’s World: Introduction and Chapter 1:

In Writing Women’s World, the author, Lila Abu-Lughod presents numerous stories taken from her experiences with a small Bedouin community in Egypt. Before embarking on her task of creating an unusual ethnography, Abu-Lughod had many goals she hoped to achieve. In order to accomplish these goals, Abu-Lughod realized that she must live in the community and experience the typical daily life. Doing so allowed her to thoroughly examine the lifestyles and practices of the Bedouin women and eventually helped her in composing an ethnography that offered a different perspective into a life very different than most Westerners are accustomed to.

The primary goal of Abu-Lughod’s was to convey the lives of the women of this community, in particular, in a way they were not often presented in, while insuring she was completely factual. Her ethnography, defined as “the major research tool of cultural anthropology; includes both fieldwork among people in society and the written results of fieldwork.” (Nanda, 2007:2), sparked great internal debate as she struggled with the idea of taking a feminist approach. She desperately wanted to “find a style of ethnographic writing that would better capture the qualities of life” (Abu-Lughod, 2008: 1-2). Other ethnographers had taken the feminist approach and such “could direct itself meaningfully to the Arab world in particular using feminist insights” and a feminist anthropological perspective. (Abu-Lughod, 2008:9).Feminist anthropology can be described as “a theoretical perspective that focuses on describing and explaining the social roles of women.” (Nanda, 2007:2) However, Abu-Lughod also wanted to avoid creating generalizations through this approach because “in the process of generalizing..the anthropologist may flatten out difference and homogenize.” (Abu-Lughod, 2008: 9). This internal struggle resulted in a masterful piece of work, as she successfully maintained a balance between...