Synopses & Reviews
Since the revolution in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has permitted few Western scholars to conduct research in the country. Here Julia Huang provides a remarkable account of local tribal life in Iran and depicts a community largely beyond the scope and reach of foreign travelers and the Western media. Huang documents the difficult livelihoods and lifestyles of these mobile Qashqa'i pastoralists and their society and culture, and she explains how this Turkic-speaking group relates to the wider Iranian society and the Islamic Republic. Focusing on a small group of women, she shows us how they adapt to a rapidly changing world while retaining tribal values and a distinctive ethno linguistic identity as one of Iran's largest national minorities. Engagingly written and documenting a disappearing way of life, Tribeswomen of Iran is essential reading for all those interested in Iran, the Middle East, anthropology, nomadism and gender.
'Tribeswomen of Iran takes the reader into the empty sectors of southwestern Iran. There, Huang describes earth and sky and a tribal people closely linked by kinship, history, and the new challenges that come from the Islamic regime in Tehran and from modernity itself. A work of power and complexity - it is memoir, ethnography, and a work of literature. Tribeswomen of Iran is of such nuance and importance that I believe it may well do what the matriarch Falak says when she observes her youngest daughter bent over a loom: 'Writing is more important than weaving a carpet. When we finish a carpet and cut it off the loom, we have to give it away to someone, and then we never see it again. But writing lasts forever.' - William Honeychurch, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale University
'Huang is a well-trained ethnographer and a highly disciplined observer, and this intensely engaging and readable book is clear evidence of her brilliant and wonderfully curious mind. As an Iranian-American scholar, I was enormously touched by Huang's descriptions of tribal women's lives in Iran and by her desire to represent accurately and to correct wrong perceptions about the people among whom she has lived for so many years. I am sure that readers will find enchanting Huang's observations as a child growing up with nomads in Iran.' - Shahla Haeri, Director of the Women's Studies Program and Associate Professor of Anthropology, Boston University
About the Author
Julia Huang has lived among Qashqa'i nomadic pastoralists in southwestern Iran for extended periods of her childhood and adolescence between 1991 and 2004, together with her mother, the distinguished American anthropologist, Lois Beck. Huang is the author of a chapter in 'Nomadic Societies in the Middle East and North Africa' (2006; edited by Dawn Chatty) and the co-author of an article on Iran in 'Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East' (2006). As a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, she conducts anthropological research on social entrepreneurs, and she is the regional coordinator for Central Asia and the Caucasus for AIESEC, an international NGO. Inducted in Phi Beta Kappa and proficient in Turkish, Persian and French, she graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with a degree in anthropology.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations * Foreword * Preface * Acknowledgments * Introduction * Dorna: Learning about Society and Culture * Ma'asumeh: Adventures in Late Childhood * Nahid: Integrating Formal Education with Custom and Tradition * Fariba: Contemplating a Future without Marriage * Falak: Disruptive Change in Family and Tribe * Notes * Bibliography * Appendix * People Mentioned in the Text