Establishing an Arab association for the social sciences

in An Invitation to Laughter

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226434766
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226434759 | DOI:
Establishing an Arab association for the social sciences

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Feeling confident of his position at the American University of Beirut, the author turned to lobbying for anthropology in the Middle East. Of the many local and international institutions and foundations he approached for funds, only the Ford Foundation showed interest and concern. This was thanks to Courtney Nelson, the head of the foundation in Beirut at the time, and the anthropologist Peter Benedict, both of whom had adopted a holistic approach to modernity. This was important because Arabs, in general, lived in an unfulfilled dream; namely, that it would be possible to acquire the technological skills and institutions of modern times while retaining old-fashioned value systems and traditions. This attitude ignored one of the basic lessons in history: change in the moral order of society in the West (that is, the Renaissance) preceded the industrial revolution by more than three centuries. Some Arab countries, especially in the Gulf, made this unfulfilled dream into official government policy, which at times was enforced so blindly that it verged on the ridiculous.

Keywords: anthropology; Middle East; Ford Foundation; Arab countries; American University of Beirut

Chapter.  2103 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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