The Middle East
Dale F. Eickelman
New York University
What did scholars learn about the Middle East from late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century explorations? How does Islam affect political and social life? How do the society and family life of tribes and towns accommodate to modern traditions? How do earlier cities compare with those of today?
The answers to these probing questions illustrate the topics discussed in The Middle East: An Anthropological Approach. This introduction to the Middle East is based on the author’s Middle Eastern anthropology series for CBS-TV’s “Sunrise Semester.” The material focuses on the contribution which the study of the Middle East is making to the main currents of anthropology, “especially those,” as the author explains, “which relate to the analysis of complex societies.”
Part I —Introduction offers some practical assumptions concerning how the Middle East has been understood in the past; Part II interprets the present and how Middle Easterners see their society and culture; Part [II is concerned with Islam and religious experience; and Part IV assesses the impact of political and economic change.
The book is written for the general reader as well as the student. It deals with inquiry and discovery rather than a review of the literature.