A Toll of Two Cities

Unless you are a specialist on the Middle East, the chances are you have never heard of Aleppo and Sanaa, two of the oldest cities in the region with continual habitation. Aleppo has existed for at least 7,000 years and Sanaa is known as the legendary city where Shem (Sam in Arabic) settled after the […]

Clothed-Minded Views on Burqinis

In late August, a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice, France was forced to remove her top and was allegedly fined for wearing a burqini, a modest full-body swimsuit that has been banned in Nice and several French towns. The photo of the incident went viral, furthering the divisive debate in Europe about clothing that […]

Bint al-Wadi’i

Bint al-Wadi’i, Al-Ahjur, Yemen (circa 1944-2016), الله يرحمها ويعوض اهلها Written in memory of a friend whose support was crucial to my understanding of life and etiquette during my ethnographic research in Yemen. In 1978-79, my husband, Daniel Varisco, and I spent 18 months conducting dissertation fieldwork in the beautiful basin of al-Ahjur, located in […]