donderdag 21 juli 2011

Framing the Family Law: A Case Study of Bahrain's Identity Politics

This article argues that an important debate about improving the family law in Bahrain was derailed over issues of identity politics that had little to do with the law's content. Efforts made by the government in 2004–9 to codify Bahrain's family law stalled in the face of strong opposition from much of the country's Shia community, including many women, who were ostensibly to be the beneficiaries of a codified law. The article analyses the ways in which the family law was exploited as a symbolic issue in a wider struggle for political authority and representation in Bahrain. In particular, it seeks to explain why many Shia women themselves opposed the law, in solidarity with a perceived community of Bahraini Shia, an identity that appeared to trump the appeal of a perceived community of Bahraini women. The nuances of the debate are not well understood; much of the arguments were over who should have the right to define and approve the law. Importantly, Bahrain's clerics argued that the portions of the law applying to Shia should be legitimised by Shia religious leaders in Iran and Iraq, a sensitive issue that touched a nerve in government circles, given longstanding government suspicions that Shia loyalties to religious leaders in Iran and Iraq would also compromise Shia political loyalties to the state of Bahrain. For both parties — government and clerics — the content of the law, and the rights of women, became a secondary concern compared with this debate over power and authority. They employed various strategies to “frame” the debate and to mobilise support behind them, which are described in detail in the paper. Overall, the furore over the family law, and the use of identity politics in the power struggle between the Sunni-dominated government and the Shia clerics, has contributed to further political polarisation between sectarian groups in Bahrain, while leaving genuine problems over women's rights unresolved.

Jane Kinninmont (2011): Framing the Family Law: A Case Study of Bahrain's
Identity Politics, Journal of Arabian Studies, 1:1, 53-68

maandag 11 juli 2011

Policing Housemaids: The Criminalization of Domestic Workers in Bahrain

By Staci Strobl
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York

This research stems from ethnographic observations in 2005 and 2006 of the women’s sections of
police stations in Bahrain. It uncovered details of a larger social and economic problem in the
Arabian Gulf countries involving the unique legal status of the female expatriate guest workers.
Housemaids or former housemaids formed the majority of female defendants who were ethnographically observed at Bahrain’s local police stations. Observations revealed that this refl ected an overall trend of criminalization of domestic worker-related labour disputes. This research presents the types of cases observed and discusses the women police as agents of social control whose job involves handling a larger socio-economic problem at the backend, through policing.

British Journal of Criminology
October, 2008

The Women's Police Directorate in Bahrain: An Ethnographic Exploration of Gender Segregation and the Likelihood of Future Integration

By Staci Strobl
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York

This article explores Bahrain's Women's Police Directorate, a separate unit for policewomen. Historically, the segregation of female police in separate units has charazterized the development of women in policing. The most popular theory describing women's entrance into policing involves a linear, developmental model in which segregation is a step toward full gender integration. This model has never been applied to contexts involving Muslim and Arab social constructions of gender. The article suggests that gender integration of the Bahraini police is unlikely, considering internal perceptions and dominant social and cultural Islamicization trends, which contract with the apparent state feminism operating in Bahrain. It thus suggests that a linear theory is too constricting in positing the inevitability of gender integration in all societies in which policewomen exist. Using a postcolonial theoretical framework, Bahraini trends preliminarily suggest a hybrid outcome in which some police units are gender segregated and others are integrated.

International Criminal Justice Review
Vol. 18, No. 1
March 2008 pp. 39-58

zondag 10 juli 2011

Intifada und Reformprozeß in Bahrain. Das Ölscheichtum als Beispiel für Demokratisierung?

Im Zentrum des Vortrages steht der politische Reformprozeß in Bahrain, der nach einer Welle von jahrelangen sporadischen Unruhen - von Aktivisten als Intifada bezeichnet - im Jahre 2001 initiiert wurde. Der Aufruhr in Bahrain hatte zahlreiche miteinander verwobene Ursachen. Die These ist, daß aufgestaute Wut vor allem unter ausgegrenzten Jugendlichen ein Hauptfaktor war. Das Beispiel Bahrain zeigt, daß Wut zu einem wichtigen politischen Faktor werden kann, dem nicht mit immer mehr Repressionsmaßnahmen beizukommen ist. Intifada ist zu einem Schlüsselbegriff des kollektiven arabischen Bewußtseins geworden, und es ist anzunehmen, daß Straßenproteste in zahlreichen Ländern der Region in Zukunft zunehmen werden. Die Diskussion über die Wirksamkeit bahrainischer Strategien zur Befriedung der Unruhen sind daher von großer Bedeutung.

Das strategisch wichtige Land am Persischen Golf ist bisher von der deutschen Forschung vernachlässigt worden. Bahrain wird sowohl in arabischen als auch amerikanischen Medien als Beispiel für Demokratisierung im Nahen Osten gepriesen. Es soll erläutert werden, inwieweit diese Einschätzung zutrifft.

Dr. Ute Devika Meinel, Cairo, 2003

Neopatriarchy: A Theory of Distorted Change in Arab Society

By Hisham Sharabi

Focusing on the region of the Arab world--comprising some two hundred million people and twenty-one sovereign states extending from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf--this book develops a theory of social change that demystifies the setbacks this region has experienced on the road to transformation. Professor Sharabi pinpoints economic, political, social, and cultural changes in the last century that led the Arab world, as well as other developing countries, not to modernity but to neopatriarchy--a modernized form of patriarchy. He shows how authentic change was blocked and distorted forms and practices subsequently came to dominate all aspects of social existence and activity--among them militant religious fundamentalism, an ideology symptomatic of neopatriarchal culture. Presenting itself as the only valid option, Muslim fundamentalism now confronts the elements calling for secularism and democracy in a bitter battle whose outcome is likely to determine the future of the Arab world as well as that of other Muslim societies in Africa and Asia.

Beyond the Ubaid: Transformation and integration in the late prehistoric societies of the Middle East

Originally coined to signify a style of pottery in southern Iraq, and by extension an associated people and a chronological period, the term "Ubaid" is now very often used loosely to denote a vast Near Eastern interaction zone, characterized by similarities in material culture, particularly ceramic styles, which existed during the sixth and fifth millennia B.C. This zone extended over 2000 km from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Straits of Hormuz, including parts of Anatolia and perhaps even the Caucasus. The volume contains twenty-tree papers that explore what the "Ubaid" is, how it is identified, and how the Ubaid in one location compares to another in a distant location.

The papers are the result of the Ubaid Expansion? Cultural Meaning, Identity and the Lead-up to Urbanism, an International Workshop held at Grey College, University of Durham, 20-22 April 2006.