Within the Circle: Parents and Children in an Arab Village

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When American anthropologist Andrea Rugh rented a room in a small Syrian village, hoping to find the time to finish a book she was writing, she never expected to be drawn so deeply into the lives of her neighbours. But she developed close friendships with two households - those of her landlady and her landlady's sister. For eight months Rugh observed the lives of these two families and their ten children. The result is an intimate account of family life and child rearing in a traditional society in the midst of modernization. Within the Circle is a vividly crafted portrait of families in a changing world, chronicling the day-to-day textures of life among family members, between parents and children, and between families and the larger world of the village, noting the close-knit family relationships and rigid patterns of authority and responsibility. Rugh contrasts her experiences as an American mother raising three independent boys with the experiences of the village parents striving to form a clost-knit family unit. A fascinating glimpse of village life in the contemporary Middle East, Within the Circle offers a powerful basis for comparing the significant differences in family organization and dynamics between Middle Eastern and American cultures.