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  • Orkideh Behrouzan

Teaching Resources on Representation and the Middle East

Sample from Syllabus:


Crisis of Representation: Ruptures, Subjectivities, and the Middle Eastern Condition

“What is the task of ethnography [in this] moment? … What would make ethnography ‘appropriate’ to the historical conditions in which we find ourselves today?” (Fortun, 2012: 449)


From Trump’s so-called Muslim Ban to the rise of new legislation on the so-called European Refugee Crisis, anthropology is faced with the constant reworking of gazes and lenses through which ne categories of ‘other’ are defined. We now examine the pertinent issues of health, human rights, conflict, displacement, and inequality in relation to the politics of representation. We shall explore the ethical stakes of engaging with, reporting on, researching, and understanding the region we have come to call the Middle East. The materials will examine subjectivity in its most porous and diffused sense, underscoring diversities and contradictory forces that are at work in the making of culture(s); thus problematising the use of the term ‘Middle East’ as a unitary category. Focusing on micro-histories and first-person accounts of experience, we will revisit the postmodern condition (Lyotard) and Anthropology as Cultural Critique (Marcus and Fischer), in order to critically examine the limits of meta-narratives and grand analyses.

Your assignment for this weekis to closely observe the news coverage of one chosen topic in relation to the Middle East. You are expected to, first, think about the processes of ‘other’ing (whether reducing the Other to an alienated category or celebrating an enchanted Other); and second, closely examine the shifting subjectivities that cannot be mapped on grand-scale political meta-analyses.


Ethnography as Content and Form

  • Fortun, Kim. 2012. “Ethnography in Late Industrialism,” Cultural Anthropology 27(3): 446-464.

  • Fischer, Michael: First response, Anthropology in the age of Trump:

  • https://culanth.org/fieldsights/1034-first-responses-a-to-do-list

  • Fischer, Michael. Anthropology in the Meantime.Selected chapter

  • Marcus, G.E. 1995. ‘Ethnography in/of the World System: the emergence of multi-sited ethnography.’ Annual Review of Anthropology24: 95-140.

  • Narayan, Kirin. 2012. Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of            Chekhov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Da Col, Giovanni and David Graeber. 2011. “Foreword: The return of ethnographic         theory,” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, pp. vi-xxxv.

  • Jackson, John L., Jr. 2012. “Ethnography Is, Ethnography Ain’t,” Cultural Anthropology 27(3): 480-497.

  • Taussig, Michael. 2012. “Excelente Zona Social,” Cultural Anthropology 27(3): 498-517.

  • Anna Tsing’s Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007)

On Representation

  • Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others: Chapter 1: https://monoskop.org/images/a/a6/Sontag_Susan_2003_Regarding_the_Pain_of_Others.pdf

  • Darwish, Mahmoud; Poem: ‘Without Exile, Who Am I?’


  • Das V. 2007. Life and Words. Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary. Berkeley: University of California Press, Introduction.

  • Bourgois, Philippe. 2009. Recognizing Invisible Violence: A Thirty-Year Ethnographic Retrospective. In Global Health in Times of Violence, edited by Barbara Rylko-Bauer, Linda Whiteford, and Paul Farmer. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.

  • Das, V. 1996. Transactions in the construction of pain. Daedalus, 125,1:67-92. Farmer, Paul. 1997 “On Suffering and Structural Violence” in Kleinman, Das, & Lock, Social Suffering

  • Parkinson, Sarah E. Ethics of Research: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mec/2015/08/26/towards-an-ethics-of-sight-violence- scholarship-and-the-arab-uprisings/

  • Mark Lynch: http://pomeps.org/2014/07/02/ethics-of-research-in-the-middle-east/

  • Das, Veena. 1996 Critical Events. Chapter 6: “Suffering Legitimacy and Healing: The Bophal Case”

  • Biehl, J. 2005. Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment. University of California Press.

  • Cavell, S. 1996. Language and Body: Transactions in the Construction of Pain. Daedalus, 125.1:92-98. Daudet, A. In the Land of Pain. New York: Random House.

  • Desjarlais, R. 1994. Struggling along: the possibilities for experience among the homeless mentally ill. American Anthropologist 96: 886-901.

  • Zigon, Jarrett. 2015. What is a Situation?: An Assemblic Ethnography of the Drug War. Cultural Anthropology, 30(3): 501-524.

  • Karandinos, George; Hart, Laurie Kain; Castrillo, Fernando Montero; & Bourgois, Philippe. 2014. The Moral Economy of Violence in the US Inner City. Current Anthropology, 55(1): 1-22.

  • Bourgois, Philippe. 2011. Lumpen Abuse: The Human Cost of Righteous Neoliberalism. City & Society, 23(1): 2-12.

  • Gusterson, Hugh. 2013. Making a Killing (Guest Editorial). Anthropology Today, 29(1): 1-2.

  • Good, B., Subandi, and Delvecchio, M-J., Good, M. 2007. The subject of mental illness: psychosis, mad violence, and subjectivity in Indonesia. In Subjectivity: Ethnographic investigations. J. Good, B. and A. Kleinman (eds). Berkeley: University of California Press, pp:243-272.

  • Campbell, Howard. 2014. Narco-Propaganda in the Mexican 'Drug War': An Anthropological Perspective. Latin American Perspectives, 41(2): 60-77.

  • Morris, Stephen. 2012. Drugs, Violence, and Life in Mexico (Review Article). Latin American Research Review, 47(2): 216-223.

The Middle East and the Crisis of Representation

  • Said, E. 1989. Representing the Colonised: Anthropology’s Interlocutors. Critical Inquiry, 15, Winter 1989.

  • Behrouzan, Orkideh. Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran. Stanford University Press: The Anthropologist (prologue), the Introduction, and the Conclusion

  • Siamdoust, Nahid. 2017. Soundtracks of the Revolution. Stanford: Chapters 4 and 10.

  • Dewachi, Omar. 2017. Ungovernable Life. Stanford: Introduction and Chapter 1.

  • ElTahawy, Mona. 2012. “Why Do They Hate Us?” Foreign Policy. April 23: https://foreignpolicy.com/2012/04/23/why-do-they-hate-us/

  • AND

  • Errazzouki, Samia. 2012. “Dear Mona Eltahawy, You Do Not Represent ‘Us’ - Al- Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Al-Monitor. April 24: http://www.al- monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/dear-mona-eltahawy-you-do-not- re.html

  • Lara Deeb & Mona Harb. 2013. Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shi‘ite South Beirut. Princeton University Press: Introduction, Chapter 3 and 5

  • Behrouzan, O. (2011). The psychological impact of the Iraq war. Foreign Policy: http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/04/23/the_iraq_war_and_its_psychologic al_aftermath

  • Fischer, Michael M. J. 1980. Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Ghanoonparvar, M. R. 2009. ‘Postrevolutionary Trends in Persian Fiction and Film’. Radical History Review 2009, no. 105: 156–62. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/01636545- 2009-013.

  • Robben, A.C.G.M. (2009). Anthropology and the Iraq war: An uncomfortable engagement. Anthropology Today, 25(1), 1–3.


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