1001 Likes – August 2016

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Lynette Harper watches a powerful Egyptian documentary. Reprinted with permission from the Middle Eastern Dance Association newsletter, Sahda, August 2016.

Dancers is a mesmerizing film set in Cairo. But don’t expect to see the gorgeous costumes or inspiring performances that grace most films made about Egyptian belly dance. Director Celame Barge takes us deep into the lives and struggles of the working dancers of Mohammed Ali Street, revealing daily struggles and difficult choices. We follow them as they walk along crowded Cairo streets at night, down squalid corridors in markets and nightclubs. We watch them carefully applying make-up in their bedrooms, at the hairdressers, and in back rooms before they arrive on stage.

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One of the first women we meet is preparing to perform. While dressing, she chats with women of the wedding party about life, work, and her husband. The women help to fix her outfit, give her a pin to secure the dress over her bra, and compliment her well-shaped breasts – before noticing that they benefit from extra padding. Two young men stop by to snap photos on their phones, and young girls hover about asking to join the dancing: “There are no women who can’t dance.” So she first dances for women, teens, and young girls in a small room before entering the large, garishly decorated wedding space packed with men. Onstage she works hard to prevent enthusiastic men from touching her or from making overtly sexual moves.

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1001 Likes – June 2016

Lynette Harper finds belly dance plays a role in two powerful films. Reprinted with permission from the Middle Eastern Dance Association newsletter, Sahda, June 2016. This term, I’m teaching an anthropology course about Arab women in the Middle East and the diaspora. Two of the most influential films that we watch are “Four Women of Egypt,” a 1997… Read more…

Ethnographies worth reading

Ethnographies worth reading

Guests of the Sheik: Ethnography of an Iraqi village Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, Random House, re-issue 1995 Though Elizabeth Warnock Fernea’s book was first published in 1969,  her writing provides useful insights into daily life, for Arab women in  a particular place (rural Iraq) and time period. “A delightful, well-written, and vastly informative ethnographic study, this… Read more…

ANTH 390D Arab Women in the Middle East and Diaspora

ANTH 390D  Arab Women in the Middle East and Diaspora

Anthropological perspectives   (offered May 2014; tentatively scheduled May 2016)  Lynette.Harper@viu.ca A veil of mystery and stereotyping obscures Arab women’s lives in the Middle East and the global Arab diaspora. This course investigates Arab women’s dilemmas and perspectives on identity, faith, politics and representation through readings and discussion based on ethnographies and cultural studies. Examine gender/power… Read more…

Unveiled: Performing identities in the Arab diaspora

Unveiled: Performing identities in the Arab diaspora

On Canada’s west coast, a large and active bellydance community has grown and thrived distinct from Middle Eastern ethnic communities.  Orientalist fantasies and Egyptian stylings regularly appear onstage alongside western tribal and other ethnic bellydance fusions.  These performances do not challenge popular media stereotypes about the Middle East; they comfortably coexist with ideologies linking veiled… Read more…

Anth 307 Culture and Education in Global Context

Anth 307 Culture and Education in Global Context

September 8 – December 1, 2010 Instructor:  Lynette Harper, Ph.D. Email: Lynette.Harper@viu.ca     A cross-cultural analysis of education addressing cultural, social, political, and economic dynamics in North America and abroad. Topics include ethnography in the classroom; critical analysis of multicultural, anti-racist, and indigenous forms of education; theories of cultural difference and production; and practical… Read more…