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Distinguished Anthropologist’s Convocation Address to Focus on Revolution in One Egyptian Village

May 2, 2012

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Lila Abu Lughod, Carleton Class of 1974 and a prominent anthropologist whose studies have focused largely on Egypt, will present Carleton College’s weekly convocation address on Friday, May 4 at 10:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Entitled “Taking Back the Village: Egyptian Youth in Revolution,” this event is free and open to the public.

Western media’s coverage of Egypt’s 2011 revolution focused almost exclusively on the massive protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Instead, Abu Lughod will examine the way in which the revolution played out in the countryside through the lens of the village where she has spent much of her career studying gender, media, and modernity.  After decades living under a repressive and corrupt regime whose policies led to the disenfranchisement and impoverishment of the village, the revolution led the community’s youth to work to solve local problems within their community, framing their actions in terms of a strong sense of social morality rather than more media-friendly language of rights and democracy.

Abu Lughod is known for challenging simplistic and universalistic readings of culture, arguing forcefully for the importance of diversity and complexity within cultures. Her work has largely focused on women in the postcolonial context, with an emphasis the Arab world. Her ethnographic work on sentiment and cultural expression among Egyptian Bedouins resulted in her first book, Veiled Sentiments (University of California Press, 1986), which earned honorable mention from the Chicago Folklore Prize. Additionally, she has worked on a wide range of subjects, including nationalism, feminism, global media, and historical memory.

A Carleton alumnus with a Ph.D. from Harvard University, Abu Lughod is currently the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science and the Co-Director of the Center for Critical Analysis of Social Difference at Columbia University. In addition to Veiled Sentiments, Abu Lughod is the author of Writing Women’s Worlds: Bedouin Stories (University of California Press, 1993) and Dramas of Nationhood: the Politics of Television in Egypt (University of Chicago Press, 2005), and has served as the editor for numerous anthologies.

The Convocation speaker series is sponsored by the Carleton College Office of College Relations. For more information or disability accommodations, contact kraadt@carleton.edu or call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First Street, between the corners of College and Winona Streets, in Northfield.

Written by Alex Korsunsky '12