Remembering Childhood In The Middle East

Overview

Growing up is a universal experience, but the particularities of homeland, culture, ethnicity, religion, family, and so on make every childhood unique. To give Western readers insight into what growing up in the Middle East was like in the twentieth century, this book gathers thirty-six original memoirs written by Middle Eastern men and women about their own childhoods.

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, a well-known writer of books and documentary films about women and the family in the...

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Overview

Growing up is a universal experience, but the particularities of homeland, culture, ethnicity, religion, family, and so on make every childhood unique. To give Western readers insight into what growing up in the Middle East was like in the twentieth century, this book gathers thirty-six original memoirs written by Middle Eastern men and women about their own childhoods.

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, a well-known writer of books and documentary films about women and the family in the Middle East, has collected stories of childhoods spent in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. The accounts span the entire twentieth century, a full range of ethnicities and religions, and the social spectrum from aristocracy to peasantry. They are grouped by eras, for which Fernea provides a concise historical sketch, and include a brief biography of each contributor. The introduction by anthropologist Robert A. Fernea sets the memoirs in the larger context of Middle Eastern life and culture.

As a collection, the memoirs offer an unprecedented opportunity to look at the same period in history in the same region of the world from a variety of very different remembered experiences. At times dramatic, humorous, or tragic, and always deeply felt, the memoirs document the diversity and richness of people's lives in the modern Middle East.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
The Turkish novelist and translator Güneli Gün grew up on an Aegean island once used to quarantine pilgrims returning from Mecca. In Remembering Childhood in the Middle East: Memoirs From A Century of Change, an anthology edited by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, Gün recalls her anger at her parents' refusal to love Quarantine Island. Her mother missed cosmopolitan social life; her father, a doctor, ridiculed his staff and railed about " 'the agony of the East,' by which he meant the scientific backwardness he believed Islam had 'brought upon' us."

Amid the jarring disruptions of life in Tehran during the nineteen-eighties, Marjane Satrapi could at least confide in her parents. Her comic-book memoir, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, describes her pain at seeing her country descend into fundamentalism and violence. Satrapi was patriotic; she was relieved to see her father cheer when the BBC confirmed that Iranian bombers had hit Baghdad. Later, though, the slogans scrawled on city walls "To die a martyr is to inject blood into the veins of society") made her fearful that the country's turn toward bellicosity was too extreme.

Firoozeh Dumas' family left Iran permanently in 1976, and missed the seismic shifts back home. In Funny In Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian In America, Dumas remembers how in 1977 her parents accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to welcome the Shah. Undeterred by a threatening note slipped under their hotel-room door ("Dear Brainwashed Cowards, You are nothing but puppets of the corrupt Shah . . ."), the family finally reassessed the trip after demonstrators attacked Iranians on a lawn near the White House with nail-studded sticks. Their response? To take the first flight back to California. (Kate Taylor)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292725478
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

ELIZABETH WARNOCK FERNEA is Professor Emerita of English and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction by Robert A. Fernea
Narratives
The End of the Ottoman Empire (1923)
Mohammed Fadhel Jamali (Iraq)
Nazik Jawdat (Syria/Lebanon)
Charles Issawi (Egypt)
Mansur al-Hazimi (Saudi Arabia)
Janset Shami (Jordan)
Selma Khadra Jayyusi (Palestine)
European Colonial Rule and the Rise of Arab Nationalism (1830-1967); Establishment of the State of Israel (1948)
Hoda Naamani (Syria/Lebanon)
Yıldıray Erdener (Turkey)
Hassan Aziz Hassan (Egypt)
Basima Bezirgan (Iraq)
Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid Marsot (Egypt)
Mohammed Ghanoonparvar (Iran)
Avraham Zilkha (Israel)
Halim Barakat (Syria/Lebanon)
Güneli Gün (Turkey)
Zbida Shetlan (Tunisia)
Mahnaz Afkhami (Iran)
New Nations (1952-1963); Oil Wealth and OPEC (1973- ); Israeli-Palestinian Wars (1967, 1973); Camp David Treaty (1979); Iranian Revolution (1979)
Salah-Dine Hammoud (Morocco)
Saif Abbas Dehrab (Kuwait)
Hamza al-Din (Egypt)
Akile Gursoy (Turkey)
Rafiq Abdul Rahman (Palestine)
Abdul Aziz Abbassi (Morocco)
Fedwa Malti-Douglas (Lebanon)
Awad Abdelrahim Abdelgader (Sudan)
Ali Eftekari (Iran)
The Post-Colonial Middle East (1971- )
Shafeeq N. Ghabra (Kuwait)
Maysoon Pachachi (Iraq)
Esther Raizen (Israel)
Lilia Labidi (Tunisia)
Suad Joseph (Lebanon/United States)
Abdelaziz Jadir (Morocco)
Nahid Rachlin (Iran)
Mustafa Mirzeler (Turkey/Kurdistan)
Leila Abouzeid (Morocco)
Ronda Abou-Bakr (Egypt)
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