Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
4Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Zenana: Everyday Peace in a Karachi Apartment Building -- Chapter 4

Zenana: Everyday Peace in a Karachi Apartment Building -- Chapter 4

Ratings: (0)|Views: 570|Likes:
By Laura A. Ring; published Indiana University Press. You can purchase a copy of this book from IU Press at: http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=40963

Ethnic violence is a widespread concern, but we know little about the micro-mechanics of coexistence in the neighborhoods around the world where inter-group peace is maintained amidst civic strife. In this ethnographic study of a multi-ethnic, middle-class, high-rise apartment building in Karachi, Pakistan, Laura A. Ring argues that peace is the product of a relentless daily labor, much of it carried out in the zenana, or women's space. Women's exchanges between households--visiting, borrowing, helping--and management of male anger are forms of creative labor that regulate and make sense of ethnic differences. Linking psychological senses of "tension" with anthropological views of the social significance of exchange, Ring argues that social-cultural tension is not so much resolved as borne and sustained by women's practices. Framed by a vivid and highly personal narrative of the author's interactions with her neighbors, her Pakistani in-laws, and other residents of the city, Zenana provides a rare glimpse into contemporary urban life in a Muslim society.

Laura A. Ring lives in Chicago with her husband, photographer Sheheryar Hasnain, and their two sons. She received a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago, and continues to research and write about everyday life in Karachi.

ISBN 13 978-0-253-21884-1
ISBN 10-253-21884-5

By Laura A. Ring; published Indiana University Press. You can purchase a copy of this book from IU Press at: http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=40963

Ethnic violence is a widespread concern, but we know little about the micro-mechanics of coexistence in the neighborhoods around the world where inter-group peace is maintained amidst civic strife. In this ethnographic study of a multi-ethnic, middle-class, high-rise apartment building in Karachi, Pakistan, Laura A. Ring argues that peace is the product of a relentless daily labor, much of it carried out in the zenana, or women's space. Women's exchanges between households--visiting, borrowing, helping--and management of male anger are forms of creative labor that regulate and make sense of ethnic differences. Linking psychological senses of "tension" with anthropological views of the social significance of exchange, Ring argues that social-cultural tension is not so much resolved as borne and sustained by women's practices. Framed by a vivid and highly personal narrative of the author's interactions with her neighbors, her Pakistani in-laws, and other residents of the city, Zenana provides a rare glimpse into contemporary urban life in a Muslim society.

Laura A. Ring lives in Chicago with her husband, photographer Sheheryar Hasnain, and their two sons. She received a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago, and continues to research and write about everyday life in Karachi.

ISBN 13 978-0-253-21884-1
ISBN 10-253-21884-5

More info:

Published by: Voices and Visions Project on Oct 29, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

10/24/2012

pdf

text

original

 
4
 Anger
 T
hroughout my days in the Shipyard, from my first awkwardmeetings with neighbors to our final, warm good-byes, women would spontaneously—and, it often seemed to me, inexplicably—tell me stories. The question “
ek qissa sunaun?
(Shall I tell you a story?)punctuated many a hallway and drawing room conversation. Informants’tales are of great interest to anthropologists because of the way they pointto local genres, discourses, and cultural preoccupations less caught up in,or elicited by, the ethnographer’s questioning. In the Shipyard, there wasone such “genre” of stories that women never seemed to tire of telling:stories of angry men and victimized women.Zubaida’s is a more or less representative example:
“In a village near ours, there lived a beautiful woman. She was so pretty andso simple (
 sidhi 
) and innocent. Her parents married her to her first cousin, andhe took her away to his own house, where they lived apart from his family. She was so good. She spent her time reading the Quran and taking care of the houseand the food. She never went outside unless it was in full
burqa
.“But her husband was very jealous, and whenever he would come home, he would be angry, and ask her, ‘Did you see anyone today?’ She would alwaysanswer, ‘No, no one,’ and it was the truth.“If he took his wife out with him, even in
burqa,
her beauty would shinethrough—her hands, her feet, her eyes—and men would look her way. But shekept her eyes down, never flirted. Still her husband would get so angry. And
 
104 / Zenana
finally one day he killed her. He left her body lying in the courtyard and ranaway. It was many days later that her family came to ask after her, and they hadto find her there like that.”
 This was the first of what I initially labeled the “honor killing stories”that I was to hear. Zubaida told it to me at my doorstep one afternoon when she had come looking for her children, Meher and Zain. In themonths that followed, I heard many more like it—most so similar as to warrant little more than a scribble in my field notes: “Another honorkilling story today.” Ruhi told me one at our second meeting, as we satdrinking tea in her drawing room. Hers was about a woman in a
gaon
near Ruhi’s natal town of Nawabshah. The woman’s husband was gonefor several weeks looking for work, and while he was away, his wife wasordered to deliver some fruit to the landlord’s
haveli 
(mansion). Whenthe husband returned and came to hear of her errand, he was overcome with anger. Convinced that she had been unfaithful (
us ne ghalat kamkiya
),
1
he bombarded her with questions and accusations. This story, too,ended in violence, with the man killing his wife, chopping her up inpieces, and depositing them in front of the
haveli.
 Variations in the stories of this kind were remarkably minor, havingto do with details about the woman (she was rich or poor, beautiful orplain, veiled, childless, etc.) or the degree of violence visited upon her(beating, burning, maiming, but usually murder). Some were drawn out,detailed, and well told, like Zubaida’s. Many were mere headlines, terseand epigrammatic, like Hina’s mother’s comment: “A woman was killedby her husband in my village last week for no reason, no reason at all.” All the stories took place in villages, and all of them were represented as“true” (
 sach
)—a story, but not a fairy tale (
kahani 
). The more “honor killing” stories I heard, the more I struggled toascertain their meaning. Set, as they invariably were, in the
gaon,
couldthey have something to do with “the city” and migration? Were thesetales simply cenotaphs for the backward, ignorant village—experiments with crafting an “indigenous urbane”? In fact, I believe these stories dohave something to do with “the city” and “the village,” but not in the way I initially imagined. What about the relational character of the tell-ings? Were these grim tales of victimized women specifically directed at
 
 Anger / 105
me? Did they say something about my “structural” relationship with my neighbors? Were their narrators asserting a kind of “parity of modernity”or, conversely, claiming a preponderance of suffering—a “look at what we have to deal with” kind of statement? I believe these stories havesomething to do with me and my relationship with my neighbors, butnot in the manner, or even in the direction, that I first supposed. The closer I looked at the content of these accounts, the more I beganto question my casual label “honor killing story,” for who had said any-thing about honor? Certainly not the women narrators. In contrast tothe spellbinding nature of these stories—for narrator and audiencealike—discussions of infidelity or dishonor and their accompanying pun-ishment were largely matter-of-fact. Zubaida often shared gossip withme of friends who had “gone bad” and had affairs, remarking in wonderthat “if a woman in my family did that, our men would kill her (
uskoqatil kar dete
).” Zubaida, Aliya, and Ruhi all told me tales of women whomischievously invited attention—defied purdah, showed their curves,made flirtatious signs with their eyes—and incurred their husband’s orkinsmen’s wrath.But the striking common factor in this particular “genre” of tales Iam describing is the unimpeachable fact of women’s innocence. Theseare women wrongfully accused. Indeed, the murdered woman’s moralprobity is so pivotal to the tale that it forces a reconfiguration of thetruth as always apocryphal—or, rather, the story’s necessary truth is ac-complished only 
through
apocrypha. These stories are invariably told inthe “third person all knowing” tense. The teller and the audience areobligated to “know” what is in the woman’s heart; hence she tells herhusband she has seen no one, “and it is the truth”; she was killed “forno reason, no reason at all.” It is the senselessness of the husband’s angerand its limitless consequences that makes the story so compelling.On reflection, it was clear to me that these were not familiar tales of “honor” and its violation. Honor was not the star of the show at all. Onthe contrary, these were stories about anger—male anger—as a force in women’s lives. As many anthropologists have noted, “honor” has long been an objectof fascination for researchers of so-called circum-Mediterranean socie-ties. This, of course, is not without empirical justification, although Wi-

Activity (4)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 hundred reads
1 thousand reads
Angie Sakellaris liked this
John McGill liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->