The Public and the Private in Middle Eastern History and Society

Filali-Ansary Abdou

in The Challenge of Pluralism

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780748639694
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653195 | DOI:
The Public and the Private in Middle Eastern History and Society

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This chapter explores the shifting and problematic private/public distinction in various contexts in Middle Eastern histories and societies. In so doing, the chapter introduces what is deemed a pertinent general point on ‘spheres’ before proceeding to the first section. The chapter firstly discusses the boundaries of the public and private spheres in social and spatial locations. These different locations, with their boundaries between public and private, were particular to specific groups and communities, with varying boundaries between them. The second section discusses censorship in Muslims societies of both public and private spheres of conduct. Censorship in Muslim societies was based on the concept of hisba or accountability before God. The third section focuses on law and religion in life, particularly on the issue of privacy and how it is protected from public exposure. The fourth section discusses the transformations brought about by modernity in the public sphere. The last section discusses the processes of the formation of the modern state and political fields, and of public spaces and sites of enunciation in the twentieth century.

Keywords: spheres; public sphere; private sphere; censorship; hisba; privacy; public exposure; public spaces

Chapter.  6315 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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