Writing off the Beaten Track (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East Series): Reflections on the Meaning of Travel and Culture in the Middle East

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Overview

"Written by an American woman who resides and teaches in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, these informal sketches of life in the Gulf capture the flavor of that exotic corner of the Arab world. Even as she acquaints us with intriguing aspects of Emirati culture, Judith Caesar notes the varied difficulties inherent in perceiving another way of life, especially one that has been ignored and frequently misrepresented in the West. The author provides a unique view of the diverse ways in which American pop culture affects Middle Eastern thought and custom, from shopping and song to fashion and fads." Writing Off the Beaten Track will be vastly useful to teachers of Middle East studies and those who have contact with non-Western students. Readers interested in the region and travel aficionados will find it an enlightening and highly original read.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Caesar (Crossing Borders: An American Woman in the Middle East) is a well-intentioned but disappointing narrator who fails in an attempt to extrapolate from her experiences teaching English at a university in the United Arab Emirates to a larger commentary on the Middle East. Despite 10 years in the region, she comes across as wide-eyed. Rather than the "muddle east," a term used by her expatriate friends in Saudi Arabia (where Caesar has lived), in the Emirates she finds "a kind of melded east": she marvels at women with abayahs (veils) and cell phones, and finds it surprising that she is able to sit "in a French-named coffee shop in an American-style shopping mall in Dubai drinking Italian espresso." She is disappointed to find middle America in the Middle East, but she is content to repeat predictable stories with little analysis or context, based on conversations with expatriate teachers or their spouses and with a handful of her restive students. Caesar does not claim to be an expert, and some of her thoughts on travel in general are perceptive, though a little wooden-"I liked living in other cultures because it made me question what I thought I knew." Her more observant anecdotes are about what it is to be an American abroad and how travel has made her more aware of issues in America-like poverty, misogyny and hate crimes-that she had previously been blind to. (Dec.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815629573
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2002
  • Series: Contemporary Issues in the Middle East Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Why Don't You Just Stay Home?
Pt. 1 Places
Time and Space: Abayahs and Cell Phones 3
Sharjah and Dubai: Cities on the Sand 14
Hatta: Off the Beaten Track of History 29
Pt. 2 People
Windows into the Emirates 43
Students: Teaching and Learning Across Cultures 64
Mohammad al-Murr's Map of Dubai 82
Pt. 3 Looking Inward
The Garden and the Desert 101
Wild and Tame: The Cheetah in the Bathroom 105
Distorted Images in the Mirror 111
Windows into America 130
Pt. 4 Off the Beaten Track
Teaching Multiculturally and Being Multicultural 153
Dune Planet at the Millennium 164
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