Middle Eastern Women and the Invisible Economy

Edited by Richard Lobban

Foreword by Elizabeth W. Fernea
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"Illuminates the economic behavior of a significant sector of Third World economies. For gender studies, this is a wonderful contribution not only on the resourcefulness of women, but on the ephemeral impact of Islamic culture on women."--Ghada Talhami, Lake Forest College

"A fascinating collection giving all sorts of insights into women’s lives in various Middle Eastern communities."--Arlene E. MacLeod, Bates College

This collection examines the "invisible" women of the Middle East and their vital economic activities. Focusing on daily and domestic life in communities where more than half the population lives and works, these essays highlight the struggles and hardships of women in the region and also establish the distance between this invisible world and the conflict over Islamic issues that dominate headlines in the West. Indeed, as these essays illustrate, from the perspective of this invisible population, Islam appears variegated and tempered by cultural, historical, and gender circumstances. This work also documents the general emergence of the female-centered informal economy from the shadows toward a central role in the lives of Middle Eastern women in their respective nations.

Part I. Strategies for Survival: Women at the Margins
Nubian Women and the Shadow Economy, by Anne M. Jennings
Baggara Women as Market Strategists, by Barbara J. Michael
Invisible Survivors: Women and Diversity in the Transitional Economy of Yemen, by Delores M. Walters
The Invisible Economy, Survival and Empowerment: Five Cases from Atbara, Sudan, by Nada Mustafa M. Ali

Part II. Women and Work: The Invisible Economy of Egypt
Urban Egyptian Women in the Informal Health Care Sector, by Marcia C. Inhorn
Nest Eggs of Gold and Beans: Baladi Egyptian Women's Invisible Capital, by Evelyn A. Early
Women, Work, and the Informal Economy in Rural Egypt, by Barbara K. Larson
Women and Home-Based Microenterprises, by Marie Butler

Part III. Methods and Measures: The Invisible Economy of Tunisia
"Invisible" Work, Work "at Home," and the Condition of Women in Tunisia, by Sophie Ferchiou
Women in the Invisible Economy in Tunis, by Richard A. Lobban, Jr.
The Invisible Economy at the Edges of the Medina of Tunis, by Isabelle Berry-Chikhaoui

Part IV. Locations and Linkages in the Invisible Economy
Marcel, Straddling Visible and Invisible Lebanese Economies, by Suad Joseph
Women in Cairo's (In)visible Economy: Linking Local and National Trends, by Homa Hoodfar
Engaging Informality: Women, Work, and Politics in Cairo, by
Diane Singerman

Richard Lobban is professor of anthropology and African studies at Rhode Island College. His most recent three books are on the history, culture, and politics of the Cape Verde Islands and Guinea-Bissau.

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"Useful for its examination of women individually and in groups at work in regions that have not been the subject of extensive discussion of this type."

"In producing a volume on the role of women in informal economic activities in the Middle East, Richard A. Lobban has provided a great service. . . . There is much to be learned from this book."-- Journal of Developing Areas
--Journal of Developing Areas

"These essays show women working in diverse ways: as sellers of butter and vegetables in markets; as midwives and fertility experts; as tour guides and textile workers; as cooks and garden weeders. In addition to examining the labor roles of Middle Eastern and North African women in the "invisible economy," these essays assess the importance of women's income for family, if not national, economies." --African Studies Review
--African Studies Review

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