Welcome. :)

Welcome to my blog. Here I share my successes and failures along my journey to becoming an anthropologist. My most prominent interest anthropologically are the new approaches to handing food security/healthy eating in the US, particularly in urban "food deserts". I enjoy the Anthropology of Tourism as well; combining food and tourism has scholarly promise. My other interests which have converted into anthropological hobbies of sorts include converts to Islam, diaspora of Muslims, and MENA in general. I also have some interest in historical archaeology.

I welcome comments, discussion and even respectful debating. I will however keep discussions to a respectable level. I reserve the right to ban anyone from this forum.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Review: The Crisis of Islam:Holy War and Unholy Terror

Reviewed By: Tiffany George
Lewis, Bernard, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror (New York: Random House
Publishing Group, 2003) Pp. 190. $13.95 paper.

Bernard Lewis has had a sixty-year career writing about Middle East history and current events. In this book, he focuses on the grievances the Islamic world has against the West and why some Muslims have turned to violence. Here, he writes for the general public in a somewhat informal writing style, and he provides background information and maps to situate his discussion. The book is arranged topically with an introduction and an afterword. Additionally, he draws on historical references to illustrate his points.
We have all heard various words used for those who commit acts of violence and use religious justifications to back up their actions. Lewis chooses to use the word “fundamentalism” (Lewis 2003, 23) while occasionally using the word “extremism” (Lewis 2003, 138). Language choices used, among other things are important for credibility; alternative words other than “fundamentalism” and “extremism” (Lewis 2003, 138) may be more appropriate in this context. Even though, according to Lewis, the word “fundamentalism” was “transferred to them” (meaning Muslims) from Protestants (Lewis 2003, 24), he still continues to use the word and not suggest a better replacement. However, one person who has suggested a much better replacement is Khaled Abou El Fadl, Islamic scholar and professor at UCLA. He is author of the book, ‘The Great Theft’, a book discussing the roots of terrorism. In the book, he says using the word, ‘fundamentalists’ is “clearly problematic” (Fadl 2005, 18).To explain why, he says, “All Islamic groups and organizations claim to adhere to the fundamentals of Islam”. (Fadl 2005, 18) Suggesting a more appropriate word, Fadl says that the word ‘puritans’ is better “because the distinguishing characteristic of this group is the absolutist and uncompromising nature of its beliefs. “ (Fadl 2005, 18) He goes on to present reasons why other words (e.g. extremism) describing groups such as the Taliban, etc., are not appropriate and goes on to say, “the groups I am discussing in this book are not always, and on every issue fanatical, radical, or extremist, but they are always puritanical “ (Fadl 2005, 19).
In the beginning of the book, Lewis gives the impression that Islam is a violent faith, particularly focusing on modern examples of violence that have been perpetrated against Westerners or Western interests. Later, however, he presents points that go against that viewpoint. Still, the book seems to be slanted toward an unfavorable appraisal of Islam.
Lewis provides some basic information about Islam as a faith, but he emphasizes how Muslims have historically practiced their religion with a combination of ideology and politics. One of the ways he implies that Islam has a tendency toward violence is through using the example of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which is concerned, among other things, with “the international position of Islam and of Muslims” (Lewis 2003, 15). He makes it clear that this organization “does not look into human rights abuses and other domestic problems of member states” (Lewis 2003, 16) other than issues surrounding Palestine or other areas Muslims that are not being ruled by other Muslims. This seems to be a not so subtle way of implying that Islam as a faith is unjust and condones violence, implying that only the West and Christianity are concerned with justice and human rights.
Another way Lewis attempts to prove that Islam as a faith is at fault for recent violence in the Middle East is by using jihad as an example. Although he acknowledges the basic moral meaning of jihad as striving for the path of God, he puts more emphasis on the places in the Qur’an where jihad seems to imply an armed struggle. As an example, Lewis quotes an hadith regarding “holy war” (Lewis 2003, 32). This seems to suggest that, for Lewis, the ultimate meaning of jihad is to justify violent acts based upon the faith.
Later in the book, however, Lewis defends the Islamic faith against charges of terrorism. Regarding the attacks of September 11, 2001, he says clearly that they had “no justification in Islamic doctrine or law and no precedent in Islamic history” (Lewis 2003, 154). He goes on to say that those acts have been considered blasphemy by other Muslims because they were done in the name of the Islamic faith.
Finally, from an anthropological perspective, the book exhibits some ethnocentricity. An example is his claim that one of the benefits of colonial rule in the Middle East was “the considerable reduction though not elimination of polygamy” (Lewis 2003, 57). Lewis neglects to consider that having more than one spouse has had and continues to have positive social functions in different societies around the world. In Islam, polygyny (having more than one wife) is allowed with some restrictions because historically men were sometimes killed in wars and women needed protectors. While it is true that Muslim women today may sometimes be critical of polygamy that is not an issue for the West (or more specifically, non-Muslims) to decide.
In summary, I did not find this book to be as informative or as balanced as I had hoped it would be. In my view, there are better books on the market about Islam written for the general public. Here, Lewis seems to have exploited his qualifications to create a book that would vastly appeal to the non-Muslim uninformed public while not doing much to increase the bridge of acceptance we so desperately need in this world.
Work Cited
El Fadl, Khaled Abou. 2005. The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists. New York.
HarperCollins Publishers.

Pakistan news

I am not sure if Obama is walking the talk regarding his desire for peace with the Muslim world. Check this one out.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

archeology showing

I am in there...to the right of the girls in the red shirt. Gastly me. lol


The National Enquirer

If I can tell The National Enquirer ONE THING it would be STOP RUINING OTHER PEOPLES LIVES FOR MONEY!! Its true that celebs have been defamed by this trashy "magazine" but the one I am about to describe to you is the last straw for me personally. I am all in favor of free speech bullshit but there needs to be boundaries. Ok, here is what I am talking about...

I was in line at Publix. I was buying dinner items (shrimp, ect) and I glanced at the NE magazine and on the cover, Obama is there and the caption reads something like this (not exact): Obama in Secret Meetings with Muslims: conspiring with the enemy!

How the hell does that advance understanding and peace??? How?? It doesn't. Obviously. I am so angry....sigh.....

If I was a hijabi wearing woman, I would be scared for my life.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Daddy's little girl?

I have to discuss this because I am very upset about this situation. I have had lots of experiences with Pakistani's in particular and with some Indians and the thing to do for women is to get a nose ring. I have been wanting one forever so heck..I grabbed the bull by the horns and did it last weekend! I love it and I don't regret it. I sent an email to my Dad and he sure had some unfriendly comments to tell me. I have given up pleasing my dad because I know I never can. I need to please Tiffany. here is what he wrote...let me know what you think...

"As for the nose piercing, promise you'll refrain from wearing a nose ring when you come to see us. I'm not a fan of body piercing, as it seems too primitive. I don't wish to tell S*****e (his wife)* that you did this, nor even ask her how she feels about the practice; but, if I did, I doubt she would give me a thumbs up, considering she doesn't even have pierced ears. Nearly 40 going on 15. Ha, ha."

I was NOT asking for your APPROVAL DAD! I did it because I wanted to. Plus, the word PRIMITIVE is offensive to anthropologists! So there. lol



Today I have a bunch of things to do while hubby is working. I have to read two chapters in my archaeology book and do the chapter summaries of them. Easy enough. I need to do a little cleaning of the apt and run some Sea World tickets over to a friend.

Anyhow, I have been thinking of wearing hijab. I think that would sealing the deal regarding my committment or lack thereof to Islam. I don't pray but I don't eat pork or dress immodestly. Once I do, particularly at school, I have to follow through.
What is my motivation? I want to be taken more seriously at school. I am a big believer that modesty is a way to do that. I just don't know if I am doing it for the right reasons.

I will say that my husband is NOT Muslim and never will be and may scoff at this choice. I mean, he won't fight me on it but...he won't be super supportive.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


My vacation will be quite short but I am also looking forward to it. My husband, my sister and her family and me of course will be going to Largo and it is 10 minutes away from the ocean...sweet.

I started my new job yesterday and they gave all of the trainees about 3 pounds of shrimp each. That is awsome! They took us out for a nice lunch too. The new job will start for me next weekend, as this weekend I will be away. I do have to drive around with her tomorrow to meet store managers of the places I will be working.

I have an archaeology class starting next week as well. I am looking forward to having more structure in my life again. Seems the more I have going on, the more I accomplish. I don't know why that is.

I am still fiddling with the schedule for next year. I theoretically have 3 semesters left. Time will tell regarding that because I applied for an internship with the US State Dept. I may want to get into diplomacy/government service as a career. If I get the internship, I will NOT do Honors in the Major. If I don't, I will do the HIM program (I should get accepted).

Just some hodgepodge stuff to talk about.