May 14, 2008
Reading from the recent New York Times series of articles on Saudi youth and dating (from the perspective of men, from the perspective of women, and on a much more grave topic, journalistic methodology and the threat of rape, which recollected this widely publicized court case in Saudi Arabia last year), I was nostalgically reminded of my time in Jeddah some 15 years ago, when my Saudi girlfriends met men in malls and dated surreptitiously by cell phone, and teachers at the Saudi girls’ school where I worked told hilarious stories about their sons dressing up brooms with `abayas and veils and putting them in the back of their car and driving around to see how many men would follow, trying to flirt with the broom-women.
More than ten years ago, I wrote a short article for Middle East Report on the phenomenon of dating in Saudi Arabia and how it was mediated by commodity culture. In the Times article, it seems that just about the only difference between now and then is (a) the way that Bluetooth technology is mediating the flirting of Saudi youth, and (b) the fact that New York Times reporters have gained enough access to Saudi society to write about the phenomenon.
March 3, 2008
Yet more on language, which somehow seems to be the common factor in most of our postings and comments this past week. AP is reporting that an unnamed official in Saudi Arabia is likening Israel’s attack on Gaza, in which more than 70 have been killed, to Nazi war crimes:
“Saudi Arabia, which condemns the Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people and the threats of Israeli officials to turn Gaza into an inferno, sees that Israel through its actions is copying the war crimes of the Nazis.”
AP describes this remark as coming in response to Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai’s use of the word “shoah,” which can be translated as “holocaust,” to describe what the Gazans were “bringing onto themselves” with the continued firing of rockets into Israel. The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, has settled for just calling Israeli actions “war crimes” without likening them to Nazism.
February 25, 2008
[cross-posted at Culture Matters]
Ralph Nader has announced that he is again running for president in the United States. As the BBC notes, the 2% of votes that he received in the 2000 elections when he represented the Green Party was a deciding factor in Bush’s win over Gore, and this time around, Republicans again welcome his candidacy, since it is again expected to split the Democratic vote.
So, on the occasion of Ralph Nader’s entry into the 2008 U.S. presidential election, let me tell you how I first found out who Ralph Nader was.
It was the summer of 1994, the year before my last year of undergrad at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and I was in Walnut Creek, visiting my grandparents. I was also getting ready to apply to grad school to do a PhD in anthropology, and we had a family link to Berkeley, since my parents had met there in the 60s, and it just so happened that one of my anthropology heroines was on the faculty of the anthropology department there. So I made an appointment to go talk to Professor Laura Nader. Read the rest of this entry »