Syrian Episodes: Sons, Fathers, and an Anthropologist in Aleppo

Syrian Episodes: Sons, Fathers, and an Anthropologist in Aleppo

By: John Borneman (author)Paperback

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When Princeton anthropologist John Borneman arrived in Syria's second-largest city in 2004 as a visiting Fulbright professor, he took up residence in what many consider a "rogue state" on the frontline of a "clash of civilizations" between the Orient and the West. Hoping to understand intimate interactions of religious, political, and familial authority in this secular republic, Borneman spent much time among different men, observing and becoming part of their everyday lives. Syrian Episodes is the striking result. Recounting his experience of living and lecturing in Aleppo, Syria's second-largest city, John Borneman offers deft, first-person stories of the longings and discontents expressed by Syrian sons and fathers, as well as a prescient analysis of the precarious power held by the regime, its relation to domestic authority, and the conditions of its demise. Combining literary imagination and anthropological insight, the book's discrete narratives converge in an unforgettable portrait of contemporary culture in Aleppo. We read of romantic seductions, rumors of spying, the play of light in rooms, the bargaining of tourists in bazaars, and an attack of wild dogs. With unflinching honesty and frequent humor, Borneman describes his encounters with students and teachers, customers and merchants, and women and families, many of whom are as intrigued with the anthropologist as he is with them. Refusing to patronize those he meets or to minimize his differences with them, Borneman provokes his interlocutors, teasing out unexpected confidences, comic responses, and mutual misunderstandings. He engages the curiosity and desire of encounter and the possibility of ethical conduct that is willing to expose cultural differences. Combining literary imagination and anthropological insight, Syrian Episodes offers an unforgettable portrait of contemporary culture in Aleppo.

About Author

John Borneman is professor of anthropology at Princeton University. His books include Death of the Father: An Anthropology of the End in Political Authority and Settling Accounts: Violence, Justice, and Accountability in Postsocialist Europe (Princeton)


List of Illustrations vii Preface ix Acknowledgments xxix Chapter I: P Aleppo 1 "Prayer is better than sleep" 1 Imad's Japanese Girlfriend 7 Farce 11 "I would rather have children than fly" 13 "Once you love deeply, you never forget" 21 "My father says he saves for me" 23 "As long as she gets along with me, she will have no problems with my mother" 26 "Do you desire your mother?" 29 Traffic, or the Normal Order of Things 31 Preparing to Teach 42 Administrative Pleasantries 43 "But we are homophobic!" 52 "So, what do you think of Muslims?" 62 "I'd like to be the next president" 68 "The religious people see this and hate it, but they cannot turn it off" 74 "God will tell us when we have to do something" 84 "Kiss Daddy! Kiss Daddy!" 88 Chapter II: P The Souk 96 "Come into my shop and let me take you" 96 "Do you have a brother?" 100 "Ossi oder NorMAL?" 103 The Souk's Logic of Exchange 107 Fathers, Sons, Brothers, and Inheritance 112 Dream Collector 115 Dream of the Mistress 117 "How great is my disappointment when I see my dreams breaking down" 119 "Every woman thinks I only want to sleep with her" 123 Cell Phone, Cassettes, String Underwear 127 "That is fieldwork!" 128 "A father, perhaps a brother" 130 Fathers and Sons 145 "It is a blessing" 149 The Rumor 153 Chapter III: P Syria 156 "These are my children" 156 Aleppian Food, in Public 162 Obtaining an Exit Visa 166 The Ba'ath Party 169 Student Radicals 175 Teaching Anthropology and American Culture 178 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 187 Wild Dog Attack 190 Chapter IV: P Reflections on Teaching and Learning in Syria 192 Pedagogy 192 Lectures 194 Films 196 Coda: January 2006 200 Further Reading 225 Index 233

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780691158037
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 248
  • ID: 9780691158037
  • weight: 369
  • ISBN10: 0691158037
  • translations: English
  • language of text: English

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