Middle Eastern Belongings By Diane King, ed. (New York: Routledge, 2010. 165 pages.)

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Edith Szanto



Diane King captures the sentiment undergirding this book by quoting Virginia
Dominguez and “returning to ‘bonds of affection for people or places’”
(p. 10) in the conclusion of her introduction. She sums up the book’s chapters
as “hav[ing] in common attention to various ways of belonging in (and,
in the case of the European headscarf debates, adjacent to and with reference
to) the Middle East. All treat Middle Eastern collectives as sites of what Herzfeld
(2005: 6) calls the ‘cultural intimacy’ of nationalism, in which particular
nationalisms are composed of ‘the details of everyday life – symbolism, commensality,
family and friendship’” (p. 1). Each chapter shows how “belonging”
is contested and destabilized in and by imagined communities and
fragile states. By addressing questions of violence, moreover, each article
highlights “both belonging’s messiness and its joys” (p. 10).
King’s edited volume ties together six articles and an introduction, all
of which previously appeared in Identities, a peer-reviewed cultural anthropology
journal published by Routledge. With the exception of the fifth
article, which appeared in a separate volume, the articles were published as
a special edition, also entitled “Middle Eastern Belongings.” ...

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