Veiled Sentiments

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Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society

The book, Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society, by author and anthropologist, Lila Abu-Lughod, who is best known for her work on women's issues in the middle east, presents two years of fieldwork in Egypt among the Awlad' Ali Bedouin community who have gone from living a nomadic lifestyle , a farming system where animals are transported from one area to another in search for fresh grazing land, to living in villages where smuggling, raising animals, and doing odd jobs are ways of supporting themselves. In the book, Abu-Lughod brings together the concepts of structure, hierarchy, ideology, and discourse to illustrate the Bedouin culture, and how the Awlad' Ali deal with sentiments. Veiled Sentiments is divided into two significant parts, The Ideology of Bedouin Social Life and Discourses on Sentiment, that come together to better express the culture of the Awlad' Ali, and how they view sentiments.

Abu-Lughod uses part one to describe what she identifies as the ideology of life of the Awlad' Ali. In this particular part of the book, Abu-Lughod discusses the importance of bloodline; she observes that, "blood in the sense of genealogy, is the basis of Awlad' Ali Identity (p.44)." She expresses that kinship marks out each individual's social identity, from ones communal cultural identity to their position in the community as well as their relationship to others. Part one also explains how honor and autonomy are associated with each other, and the fact that not everyone in the community is autonomous or equal to each other. The book suggests that generally, men that are well respected among the Awlad' Ali are more autonomous than the women, children, the poor, and the men that are not respected in the community. Abu-Lughod also details that respect is gained by living up to the standards of the code of honor that the community has set for its people. By upholding the ideals...
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