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Defiance and Compliance: Negotiating Gender in Low-Income Cairo

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Volume 15

New Directions in Anthropology

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Defiance and Compliance

Negotiating Gender in Low-Income Cairo

Heba Aziz El-Kholy

290 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-390-9 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (December 2002)

ISBN  978-1-57181-391-6 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (March 2003)

eISBN 978-1-78238-934-7 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - edit   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“[This book] is commended as being a thoughtful and thought-provoking survey which offers much-needed insights on economic ramifications and their lasting effects.”   · Midwest Book Review

"The 13th volume in the outstanding 'New Directions in Anthropology' series…is a collection of insightful observations and cogent interviews … and commended as being a thoughtful and thought-provoking survey which offers much-needed insights on economic ramifications and their lasting effects."   · The Bookwatch

"Dr.El-Kholy's powerful study of labouring women in four Cairo neighbourhoods shows them vigorously confronting gender inequalities. Mindful of their sexual reputations, they see marriage less as oppression, more as a risky entry into the 'real' world of womanhood. These women can be strong in negotiations over marriage contracts, and wage-rates. Crystal-clear analysis, persuasive writing, and contextualised ethnography combine to make this book an intellectual and political challenge."  · Peter Loizos, London School of Economics


The gap between rich and poor is widening in most countries, putting more pressure on women in particular who often find themselves with the ultimate responsibility to provide for their families, especially their children, in the face of economic and political discrimination. Based on participant observation and in-depth interviews in four low-income neighborhoods in Cairo, this book offers rich, novel and intimate data relating to poor women's lives and everyday forms of resistance to gender inequalities in the labor market and at home. In contrast to the common stereotype of Middle Eastern women as totally oppressed and devoid of agency, this study shows the complex and diverse ways in which low-income women devise strategies to contest existing gender arrangements and improve their situation. It is a significant contribution to current debates about poverty, gender, power, and resistance.

Heba El-Kholy is a development professional and social anthropologist. An Egyptian, she was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. She holds a PhD. in Anthropology and Sociology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and a Masters degree in development Sociology from Cornell University. Over the past 18 years, she has worked in the Arab world as a development practitioner, activist, researcher and programme advisor with a number of regional and international organizations, including the Ford Foundation, the Canadian International Devplopment Agency (CIDA), and International Quality International. She has published numerous articles related to development and poverty and is a founder and board member of the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, (ADEW), in Egypt. Dr. El-Kholy currently lives and works in New York where she is Policy Advisor at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Subject: Gender Studies and Sexuality Anthropology (General)
Area: Middle East & Israel


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