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Feeding Desire- Chapter Notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Maggie Cummings

Feeding Desire Prologue Sahara desert: live abut for one million Moors, the ideal female beauty has for centuries been to be as fat as possible It is the look admired by men and women alike, and is considered sexually desirable In Azawagh Arab, should look as little like men as possible--round and fleshy Significance of outer appearance is anything but superficial Beauty universals and cultural particulars All societies have notions of what is beautiful and all societies modify the human body in some way Belief in changing our appearance is liberating in a world where people are not judged by appearance (Sander Gilman 1999:3)-cited from (Popenoe 2004:3) Appearance matters everywhere, and humans are in some way programmed to respond to beauty, in both its universally shared and its culturally particular manifestations (Nancy Etcoff 1999: 23)- cited from (Popenoe 2004: 3) Universal ideals of beauty seem to include symmetry, smooth skin, youthfulness. And, for women, hips that are wider than their waists (Etcoff 1999; Singh 1993) Nancy Etcoff (1999: 225) hypothesizes that the extreme thinness of catwalk fashion models is a consequence of competition: (for fatness) if looking plump is considered attractive, a little plumper than the woman in the next tent will be considered an advantage Fatness and fattening cross-culturally Among Jamaicans, Elaine Sobo (1993: 32) found that fatness is a positive trait, connoting happiness, vitality, and bodily health in general. Like Azawagh Arabs, Jamaicans also make a distinction between good, moist fat and bad, dry fat; the goal, especially for women, is a look of plump ripeness Plump body also indicated happiness, beauty, and sexual appeal for the working- class women in Egypt (Ghannam 1997: 17) www.notesolution.com Modern Western readings of fatness as indicative of laziness, lack of self-control, ill- health, low status, and unattractiveness In addition to its associations with female readiness for marriage or the achievement of a successful marriage, fatness has another set of associations around the globe that are ungendered: associations with royalty, power, and elite status Fatness is admired in numerous societies not for any practical function it is seen to achieve, such as fertility, but for its connotations of more abstract aesthetic and social values. For Moors the meanings of female fatness resonate with those found in other societies that value plump female bodies, with primary emphasis on beauty, sexiness, womanliness, and social status Yet there is no such universal cultural logic to fattening To the one generalization that can fairly be made in connection to bodily fattening around the world and that is crucial to the approach of this book: that all societies socialize the natural body in particular ways The natural body is never enough To modify and adorn the body so that the person inhabiting that body conforms to his or her particular society Preview of the book Arabs of Azawagh region considered it impossible to imagine that where Popenoe came from women did not want to be fat Fat is sexy and sex is not something one talks about openly in Azawagh By fattening, girls make their bodies desireable to men, but girls and women should be seen to relish their own sexiness, even though they are well aware of its significance As they fatten, they also learn to subdue their own behaviour, finally beginning to veil when their bodies become fully womanly, and fully sexually desirable, with the first signs of puberty The appeal of female fatness is in this way embedded in a particular Islamic vision of sexuality and desire Chapter 1 www.notesolution.com The structure of the Azawagh Arab society is dysfunctional. Females are forced to be fattened, they believe fattening is a form of beauty, and the society believes they are the most unique of mankind because they are the decedents of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). West Africa lies the Azawagh of Niger The Azawagh Heavy braids make up the stiff hairstyles of Arab women The windswept corner of Niger is today home to a patchwork of distinct ethnic groups, comprising a metropolitan desert world of different languages customs Dominant ethnic group in the region has been the Tuareg, silver-bejewelled women have appeared in the movies like the Sheltering Sky and Beau Geste Slave caste known as the Bouzou, who are a populous ethnic group in their own right Cattle-raising, nomadic Wodaabe Fulnai The Wodaabe, became Muslim only recently Hausa and Zarma, sub-Saharan black groups that dominate Niger politically and numerically, arrived in the north as civil servants, government officials, and traders The Azawagh has known fighting the violent French colonization of the Tuareg at the start of the twentieth century The Azawagh Arabs of Niger are concentrated in the north of the region Their de facto capital is the village of Tassara Tassara and Tchin Tabaraden came into being only in the last fifty years and are the products of outside intervention, not indigenous settlement alone Tchin was established by the French in the middle of the century Who are the Azawagh Arabs? Western parts of the Sahara desert known most commonly as for West as moors society coalesced between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries in the north western regions of the Sahara out of the mingling and intermarriages among local Berbers They speak a form of Arabic they call Galgaliyya www.notesolution.com Economy based on herding and trade, a caste like social structure that leaves much hard labour to former slaves, and many similarities of dress, poetry, ritual practices, and, not least, bodily ideals Azawagh Arabs are the same people as the Moors of Mauritania Moor is of European derivation The term also has a long history of European usage to refer to Berber and Arab peoples of other times and places, for example the Moor invasion of Spain and Othello the Moor, where it means Berber North Africans Azawagh Arabs are three main castes: o The white or free Arabs o The former slave caste, called Haratin o The small artisan caste, also called blacksmiths The hierarchy of these castes is imagined in terms of skin color The white Arabs lived in the center and at the southern end Peace Corps prelude: Tchin Tabaraden Tchin Tabaraden, a town of about 5000 people Sprawling, dusty place at the end of a long gravel road, Tchin Tabaraden consists of a grid of sandy laneslined by adobe walls Fieldwork: Tassara Religious leader (qadi) chief (sultan) Westerners (nesrani) Chapter 2 Anthropologists on fattening in the Sahara Fattening is said by the Tuareg to accelerate puberty and enhance the marriage ability of girls Although historically matrilineal, the Tuareg have adopted Arab patrilineality over the past several hundred years www.notesolution.com
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