"A monumental piece of scholarship, obviously years in the making. Undoubtedly, it will be an invaluable resource for anyone carrying out research or teaching on family and kinship in the Arab world."—Julie Peteet, professor of anthropology and director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies program, University of Louisville
"A stunning collective achievement. This is a landmark in the social study of the Arab world—breathtaking in its encyclopedic coverage of past scholarship yet utterly visionary in the new directions it charts for the critical study of family in the Arab world. Expert contributors at the cutting edge of their fields redefine the core issues, moving us beyond tired clichés about culture to exhilarating appreciations of the dynamic ways ‘the Arab family’ lies at the nexus of the politics of states, economies, and meaning."—Lila Abu-Lughod, department of Anthropology, Columbia University
"The volume is useful both for a general overview of Arab families and to those seeking more in-depth analyses of families in particular Arab states. Highly recommended."—Choice
"Arab Family Studies is a much-needed critical review of the scholarly literature on Arab families. The book not only provides a country-by-country overview of the research on Arab families but makes a vital argument for the centrality of the family in the region."—American Ethnologist
Family remains the most powerful social idiom and one of the most powerful social structures throughout the Arab world. To engender love of nation among its citizens, national movements portray the nation as a family. To motivate loyalty, political leaders frame themselves as fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters to their clients, parties, or the citizenry. To stimulate production, economic actors evoke the sense of duty and mutual commitment of family obligation. To sanctify their edicts, clerics wrap religion in the moralities of family and family in the moralities of religion. Social and political movements, from the most secular to the most religious, pull on the tender strings of family love to recruit and bind their members to each other. To call someone family is to offer them almost the highest possible intimacy, loyalty, rights, reciprocities, and dignity.
In recognizing the significance of the concept of family, this state-of-the-art literature review captures the major theories, methods, and case studies carried out on Arab families over the past century. The book offers a country-by-country critical assessment of the available scholarship on Arab families. Sixteen chapters focus on specific countries or groups of countries; seven chapters offer examinations of the literature on key topical issues. Joseph’s volume provides an indispensable resource to researchers and students, and advances Arab family studies as a critical independent field of scholarship.
Suad Joseph is Distinguished Research Professor of Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Davis.
8.5 x 11, 640 pages, 1 figure illustrations