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Women in Middle Eastern History: Shifting Boundaries in Sex and Gender

by Beth Baron Nikki R. Keddie

This history of Middle Eastern women is the first to survey gender relations in the Middle East from the earliest Islamic period to the present. Outstanding scholars analyze a rich array of sources ranging from histories, biographical dictionaries, law books, prescriptive treatises, and archival records, to the Traditions (hadith) of the Prophet and imaginative works like the Thousand and One Nights, to modern writings by Middle Eastern women and by Western writers. They show that gender boundaries in the Middle East have been neither fixed nor immutable: changes in family patterns, religious rituals, socio-economic necessity, myth and ideology-and not least, women's attitudes-have expanded or circumscribed women's roles and behavior through the ages.

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