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Remembering Childhood in the Middle East

Remembering Childhood in the Middle East

Collected and edited by ELIZABETH WARNOCK FERNEA
Introduction by ROBERT A. FERNEA
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  • Book Info
    Remembering Childhood in the Middle East
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79873-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Elizabeth Fernea
    (pp. 1-6)
    Robert A. Fernea

    The narratives of Middle Eastern childhood presented here are personal histories written by individuals. In contrast, histories of nations are chronicles of groups, constructions of the past by historians. Such historical writing is a shared effort, part of an ongoing discourse in which scholars build upon each other’s versions of the past, agreeing and disagreeing in a process of revision and reinterpretation which will continue until the last history department shuts its doors. But people also have their private histories, narratives about the past which are tailored to differing personal needs and satisfactions. Whether written as autobiographies or simply recounted...

  5. The End of the Ottoman Empire (1923)
    (pp. 7-66)

    The Ottoman Empire dominated much of the world for more than five hundred years, including not only Turkey, but most of what is today known as the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. But at the end of World War I, in 1918, the Ottoman Sultanate ceased to exist, and the vast territory was carved up by the winning Allied powers. Thus, the Middle East, as a concept and a descriptive term, is relatively new in world history. Over the centuries, the area has been known not only as part of the Ottoman Empire, but also as the Muslim...

  6. European Colonial Rule and the Rise of Arab Nationalism (1830–1971); Establishment of the State of Israel (1948)
    (pp. 67-162)

    Europe emerged as a collective superpower at the end of World War I (1918), when the official end of the Ottoman Empire was marked by the post-war treaties of Paris (1919), Versailles (1919), and finally Sèvres (1923). Turkey, the loser in the First World War, ceded control to parts of Europe and most of the Middle East, was granted Anatolia and Thrace, and declared itself a republic under the reformist general Mustafa Kamel Ataturk. Iraq and the territory known as Palestine/Jordan became British mandates; Syria became a French mandate. In addition, France continued its rule in Algeria, which it had...

  7. New Nations (1952–1962); Oil Wealth and OPEC (1973–); Israeli-Palestinian Wars (1967, 1973); Camp David Treaty (1979); Iranian Revolution (1979)
    (pp. 163-252)

    The new countries carved out of the old Ottoman Empire had fought hard to become independent nations. They came to power facing all the problems that accompanied the pride of independence. Young and idealistic new leaders promised everyone—men and women—free education, free health care, more rights for women, representative government. And an end to the kind of poverty represented in an earlier period by the lives of Zbeda Shetlan and Halim Barakat.

    But those promises were not easy to fulfill. Economic dependence on former colonial powers would not simply end; the markets for Middle Eastern products lay in...

  8. The Post-Colonial Middle East (1971–)
    (pp. 253-354)

    Events of the last fifty years have changed almost everything in the Middle East, as these chronicles of childhood show. A thousand years ago, men and women had no doubts about who they were and what was expected of them. Society was controlled from above, by kings and sultans; one’s place in the world was fixed at birth by gender, religious affiliation (Muslim, Christian, Jew); occupation (teacher, farmer, carpenter, merchant); and wealth (land, property). One might rise in the system; men could move away to seek their fortune elsewhere, like Suad Joseph’s father. Women could not do this so easily,...

    (pp. 355-356)