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Guest Of The Sheik Essay

972 words - 4 pages

There are many countries in the world and every country is unique and individualistic with many exclusive qualities. Everyone in the world has a culture but it is not easy to accept or agree with other people’s culture. The ethnography, “Guests of the Sheik”, written by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea really captures what it is like to live and to be immersed into another culture. Ethnography is “comprised of the writings of the anthropologist, detailing the life ways of a particular culture, investigated by means of direct fieldwork” (Arenson, and Miller-Thayer 1). Elizabeth Fernea lived in a small village of El Nahra in southern Iraq for two years to gather data for her anthropologist husband Bob. In the beginning, she had limited knowledge of Iraq, its religion or culture, but as she started connecting with the women of the society, she came to learn both about this foreign country and about herself. Acculturation is “the process of acceptance resulting for the contact between two cultures, or an individual interacting in at least two cultures” (517). As she builds relationships with the woman’s, she is acculturated.
As Elizabeth Fernea first arrived at Diwaniya station, she was the only woman without an abayah. She said, “I began to be self-conscious. This is ridiculous, I told myself. Why should I have to war that ugly thing-it’s not my custom; the arguments with Bob about the abayah returned in a rush” (Fernea 5). This shows that she could not accept wearing something that she thinks is unnecessary because in the United States, women don’t wear such clothing’s. In anthropology this is call ethnocentrism which means, “The idea that what is present in your own culture represents the natural and best way to do things” (Arenson, and Miller-Thayer 512). She refuses to hide herself in the abayah, but almost immediately realizes her mistake when she is treated like an alien from another planet. Not only does she wear the abayah, but she also agrees to live like an Iraqi woman, living behind walls and not mixing with men other than her husband. I feel that everyone is ethnocentric because people will always find some aspect of another culture that they don’t like. However, as cultural anthropologists, it is something they should constantly be aware of, so that when we are tempted to make value judgments about another way of life.
I can imagine in my mind the details of Elizabeth Fernea and Bob’s house as I read. I imagine that if I was Elizabeth Fernea then I will not accept the conditions. As Elizabeth Fernea first saw their house she experience culture shock. Culture shock means in the textbook “Cultures of the United State”, “the change or adjustment period of becoming socialized into a new culture with its own life ways” (9). Moving to a new place for anyone is hard at first because we...

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