Veiled Sentiments Essay

1244 Words Jan 10th, 2008 5 Pages
Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society

The book, Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society, by author and anthropologist, Lila Abu-Lughod, who is best known for her work on women's issues in the middle east, presents two years of fieldwork in Egypt among the Awlad' Ali Bedouin community who have gone from living a nomadic lifestyle , a farming system where animals are transported from one area to another in search for fresh grazing land, to living in villages where smuggling, raising animals, and doing odd jobs are ways of supporting themselves. In the book, Abu-Lughod brings together the concepts of structure, hierarchy, ideology, and discourse to illustrate the Bedouin culture, and how the
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She reveals to the reader that women begin to veil when they get married, and sexually active, as a way to cover sexual shame. Women also veil when they are embarrassed about any sexual comments made in their presence. As Abu- Lughod goes further into veiling, the reader can conclude that sexual emotions as well as sentiments aren't received openly among the community. Women that are received as honorable among the Awlad' Ali, are those that completely deny their sexuality. Once more, sexuality is definitely taboo among the Bedouin people, especially for women.
In part two of Veiled Sentiments, specifically chapter five through seven, the author supports the theme of her ethnographic research by extensively discussing the ideas and practices of poetic discourse among the Awlad' Ali. Many of the discourses that she talks about involve loss, pride, death, honor, star-crossed love, arranged marriage, divorce, and polygyny. Poetic discourses also known as Ghinnawas, provide an outlet for the expression of real sentiment at the same time allowing the community to preserve its strong sense of identity. One can look at these Ghinnawas as little songs or lyrical poems, " Patience brought no fulfilled wishes, I wearied and hope's door closed….(p.172)" After discussing the importance of discourse, Abu Lughod concludes with an overview of the politics behind sentiment as it relates with ideology. She describes the

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