"In this remarkable work of social anthropology, Sally Gallagher uses the unvarnished testimonies of women—their fears, hopes, ambitions, marriages, children, divorces and disappointments—to rip the lid off Syria’s stifling society, the result of 40 years of excessive control by a security state. She has travelled ten times to Syria, for up to four months each time, and has befriended and interviewed scores of women in all walks of life. Better than any political treatise, this book explains why Syria has exploded."—Patrick Seale, author of The Struggle for Arab Independence: Riad el-Solh and the Makers of the Modern Middle East
"Fills an important gap in our substantive knowledge of this area of the world."—Sylvia Vatuk, University of Illinois at Chicago
"Engaging and well-written. . . . An important contribution to scholarship on families in the Middle East."—Lisa Pollard, author of Nurturing the Nation: The Family Politics of Modernizing, Colonizing, and Liberating Egypt, 1805–1923
Drawing on fieldwork that spans nearly twenty years, Making Do in Damascus offers a rare portrayal of ordinary family life in Damascus, Syria. It explores how women draw on cultural ideals around gender, religion, and family to negotiate a sense of collective and personal identity. Emphasizing the ability of women to manage family relationships creatively within mostly conservative Sunni Muslim households, Gallagher highlights how personal and material resources shape women’s choices and constraints concerning education, choice of marriage partner, employment, childrearing, relationships with kin, and the uses and risks of new information technologies.
Gallagher argues that taking a nuanced approach toward analyzing women’s identity and authority in society allows us to think beyond dichotomies of Damascene women either as oppressed by class and patriarchy or as completely autonomous agents of their own lives. Tracing ordinary women’s experiences and ideals across decades of social and economic change, Making Do in Damascus highlights the salience of collective identity, place, and connection within families, as well as resources and regional politics, in shaping a generation of families in Damascus.
Sally K. Gallagher is professor of sociology at Oregon State University. She is author of Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life and Older People Giving Care: Helping Family and Community as well as numerous journal articles on gender, family, and care.
6 x 9, 352 pages