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Seminar on Family, Gender and Crisis of Masculinity in Muslim Central and Southwestern Asia
CEUS-R 711
Nazif Shahrani

The objectives of this seminar are fourfold: First, to examine family and gender ideals and practices of Muslims within the broader theoretical context of family and gender studies in anthropology.  Second, to examine the impact of person-centered sovereignty-based rules of governance in ideologically driven (nationalist, Marxist, Islamist, secular modernist among others) centralizing colonial, post-colonial and post-Soviet nation-states of the twentieth century upon the traditional ideals of mardaanagi/jawaan mardlik (virtuous manliness) among the subjects of such states in Muslim southwestern and Central Asia. The effects of state policies and technologies of power or its failure/collapse and consequent civil/proxy wars, population displacements, international interventions, and perpetuation of conditions of subject-hood producing crisis of masculinity will be also discussed.  In addition to a discussion of the futuwatnama literature, the course will draw on ethnographic and literary data from Afghanistan, Iran, Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asian republics. Third,  to introduce students to critical research issues in the comparative study of family and gender dynamics in Muslim societies and culture of the Southwestern and Central Asia.  And finally, to explore the intellectual and practical implications of integrating anthropological and literary approaches to the analysis of family and gender dynamics with a particular focus on the changing notions of masculinity in pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence countries of  Muslim Central and Southwestern Asia. 
The first part of the seminar will consist of readings and discussions of essential theoretical/ background materials, and will include critical evaluations of a number of case studies about Central Asia and the Middle East.  The second part will involve discussion of student project presentations.

Required Books (some titles will vary):

Aitmatov, Chingis       The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years.
Goddard, Victor         Gender, Agency and Change: Anthropological Perspectives
Goode, William G       The Family, 2nd edition
Ghoussoub & Sinclair-Webb, ed. Imagined Masculinities: Male Identity and Culture in Modern Middle East.
Harris, Colette             Muslim Youth: Tension and Transition in Tajikistan
al-Hibri, Aziza             Women and Islam
Hosseini, Khalid         The Kite Runner
Najmabadi, Afsaneh   Women with Moustaches and Men Without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity
Northrop, Douglas      Veiled Empire: Gender and Power in Stalinist Central Asia
Seirstad, Asne             The Bookseller of Kabul
al-Sulami, Ibn al-Husayn        The Way of Sufi Chivalry
Wadud, Amina           Qur=an and Women

Course Requirements:


A critical written report of the reading assignments for each week (about 2-3 double spaced typewritten pages) highlighting the most significant points (positive and negative) about the authors' approach in the text(s).  These brief weekly review are due via e-mail by 4:00pm on Mondays.  Students are also expected to actively participate in class discussions, lead at least one class discussion, make an oral presentation of the term project, and submit a term paper on the term project.

The term project will consist of a review essay consisting of:
1) Critical reading, detailed assessment and synthesis of all required and at least two titles from the recommended readings list for the seminar; and
2) Serious and reasoned reflection on how the theoretical, conceptual, methodological and substantive issues covered in this seminar will (or will not) be useful to your own specific topics or fields of research interests and why. 

The term project review essay should be about 20 typed pages (double-spaced).