Middle Eastern Humanities: An Introduction to Cultures of the Middle East combines the guided, step-by-step and interactive style of a textbook with a sophisticated and sympathetic approach to the cultural logics of tradition and innovation of the Middle East. The book will be useful for teachers and students, as well as those educating themselves about this critical region of the world.
Each chapter starts with an introduction by the author, an anthropologist and historian who writes and teaches about Syria, Islam, nationalism, gender, media and popular culture. Each chapter then includes readings by Middle Eastern and Western scholars, journalists and historical actors to deepen the point. An accompanying website will supplement each chapter with links to relevant news items and journalistic or multimedia features. Finally, study or discussion questions prompt the reader to apply the material to practical situations.
The book is divided into sections on methodology (the value of a humanities approach and debunking stereotypes), diversity and environment (geography, food and diverse lifestyles), Islam (its origins, practices and beliefs, family life and durabilities and vulnerabilities as a social system), cultural expressions (literature, art, science, music and dance traditions) and current hybrids (electronic media and popular culture in predominantly young societies).
Following a program used successfully in the University of Arizona's General Education program for a decade, this book prepares students and readers for a trajectory of further study, professional engagement or appreciation of the complexities of this critical region of the world.