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Musharaka [ Cooperation ]  Calligraphy by Khaled Al-Saai

Family and Society

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A website for K-12 educators featuring innovative resource on the culture, geography, history and religions of the Middle East, including essays, classroom activities, downloadable multimedia content and interactive Google Earth tours.


This section contains video and audio materials, most of which have not appeared online before. While we have made an effort to keep the file sizes and running times small, some of the clips may take a long time to download, particularly from a dialup connection. Each clip comes with a text description, and many of the interviews have been transcribed. To view clips on our site, you will need the free QuickTime plugin

Collections of related audio and video materials are listed in tan. Items listed in grey are in the process of being digitized, and will be available soon.

QuickTime Audio and Video Clips

Interview with Amal Rassam
In this interview, professor of Anthropology Amal Rassam discusses the the Arab Family and the changes it is facing.

Arab Diaries
This series from First Run/Icarus Films , consists of five remarkable films with the titles Birth, Youth, Love and Marriage, Work and Home. Each film focuses on the lives of ordinary people at various stages of life. The films, which were originally in Arabic, are unusual in that they are documentaries produced without commentary from the filmmaker, in which those profiled are allowed to speak for themselves. Indeed, each film is put together by several teams of filmmakers scattered throughout the Arab world, including Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Palestine, Syria and Iraq. The one exception to this is the film Home: or Maids in My Family, in which a Moroccan woman goes home to examine the lives of the female servants in her own home and the relationship between them and her family. Below is a description of what you will see in each clip.

Interview with Nawal El Saadawi and Sherif Hetata
In the summer of 2001 a court in Egypt heard a case that attempted to dissolve the marriage between novelist Nawal El Saadawi, a psychiatrist and prominent activist for women’s rights in Egypt, and her husband, Sherif Hetata, also a novelist, medical doctor and human rights activist. But in this case, neither spouse had asked for a divorce. Outside parties were attempting to dissolve the marriage because of what they argued was Nawal El Saadawi’s apostasy, based on her views regarding the rights of women in Islamic systems. More information can be found on this case at the couple’s website, established shortly after this case, but it was not the first time that Nawal El Saadawi had been targeted for her outspoken views. Her book Memoirs from the Women's Prison (Mudhakkirat fi Sijn al-Nisa, 1984) was written while imprisoned by the Sadat regime for her outspoken critique of government policy. This interview was conducted in April 2003 in Portland, Maine when Professors El Saadawi and Hetata were visiting at the University of Southern Maine. In it they discuss the status of women in the Arab World, particularly Egypt, particularly in reference to the forces of globalization.

Interview with Marnia Lazreg [Audio Clip: 10.7 M]
In this interview Marnia Lazreg, Professor of Sociology at Hunter College of the City University of New York, begins by addressing the danger of discussing the "Middle East" with its very diverse economic structures as a unit. From there she addresses   more...

Halim Barakat on changes in Arab family structures [Audio Clip: 2.2 M]
In the essay "The Arab Family and the Challenge of Change," from his book The Arab World: Society, Culture and State, Halim Barakat, novelist and professor of Sociology at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies   more...

Half of Allah's Heaven [Video Clip: 5.7 M]
This remarkable film by Djamila Sahraoui documents the role of women in public life in Algeria since the Algerian war for independence from France. Filmed in 1995 when the violence that resulted from the cancellation of Algeria’s first free elections   more...

Religious Programming on Al Jazeera [Video Clip: 3.5 M]
This clip is from a 52 minute documentary examining the impact of the Al Jazeera satellite news channel in the Arab world and beyond. The station has generated   more...

Interview with Judith Tucker [Audio Clip: 10.9 M]
In this interview, Judith Tucker, Professor of History from Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, discusses the manner in which women’s history has been left out of most accounts of Arab history and the need to bring these   more...

Interview with Nicholas Hopkins [Video Clip: 24.1 M]
In this interview Nicholas Hopkins, Professor of Anthropology and Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the American University in Cairo, discusses a number of social changes that have been occurring in Egypt   more...

Interview with Jon Anderson [Audio Clip: 9.1 M]
In this interview John Anderson, Chair of the Anthropology Department of the Catholic University of America is interviewed about his observations on family structures in the Arab World. Many analogies to aspects of American culture will facilitate understanding   more...

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