Live and Die Like a Man: Gender Dynamics in Urban Egypt (Paperback)

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Watching the revolution of January 2011, the world saw Egyptians, men and women, come together to fight for freedom and social justice. These events gave renewed urgency to the fraught topic of gender in the Middle East. The role of women in public life, the meaning of manhood, and the future of gender inequalities are hotly debated by religious figures, government officials, activists, scholars, and ordinary citizens throughout Egypt. Live and Die Like a Man presents a unique twist on traditional understandings of gender and gender roles, shifting the attention to men and exploring how they are collectively produced as gendered subjects. It traces how masculinity is continuously maintained and reaffirmed by both men and women under changing socio-economic and political conditions.

Over a period of nearly twenty years, Farha Ghannam lived and conducted research in al-Zawiya, a low-income neighborhood not far from Tahrir Square in northern Cairo. Detailing her daily encounters and ongoing interviews, she develops life stories that reveal the everyday practices and struggles of the neighborhood over the years. We meet Hiba and her husband as they celebrate the birth of their first son and begin to teach him how to become a man; Samer, a forty-year-old man trying to find a suitable wife; Abu Hosni, who struggled with different illnesses; and other local men and women who share their reactions to the uprising and the changing situation in Egypt.

Against this backdrop of individual experiences, Ghannam develops the concept of masculine trajectories to account for the various paths men can take to embody social norms. In showing how men work to realize a male ideal, she counters the prevalent dehumanizing stereotypes of Middle Eastern men all too frequently reproduced in media reports, and opens new spaces for rethinking patriarchal structures and their constraining effects on both men and women.

About the Author

Farha Ghannam is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Swarthmore College and author of Remaking the Modern: Space, Relocation, and the Politics of Identity in a Global Cairo (2002). Listen to Farha Ghannam's presentations on The Life and Death of an Egyptian Man and Reflections on Masculinity and Violence in the Egyptian Revolution.

Praise For…

"Despite the profusion of works on gender in the Middle East, few studies are devoted to masculinity. This pathbreaking volume is the first to examine Egyptian manhood through an ethnographic lens, following the stories of 'boys-to-men' on the brink of a revolution. A must-read for those interested in Middle East gender studies, anthropology, and contemporary Egypt."—Marcia C. Inhorn, Yale University, author of The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East

"Farha Ghannam skillfully weaves the life stories of Egyptian men with an important accounting of the precarious balance between genders. This is a masterful treatise on masculinity in the Middle East and a timely contribution to understanding the Arab Spring and the socio-political changes facing the region. A book not to be missed."—Sherine Hafez, University of California, Riverside

"With Live and Die Like a Man, Farha Ghannam is far ahead of the academic curve, setting an imposing standard for future scholarship on the Arab Spring and gender across the Middle East and North Africa. This engrossing book breaks ground by using the study of men's experiences as a method for understanding contemporary societies."—Mark LeVine, University of California, Irvine

Product Details
ISBN: 9780804783293
ISBN-10: 0804783292
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication Date: September 4th, 2013
Pages: 240
Language: English