An Invitation to Laughter: A Lebanese Anthropologist in the Arab World

Paperback | May 15, 2007

byFuad I. Khuri

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For the late Fuad I. Khuri, a distinguished career as an anthropologist began not because of typical concerns like accessibility, money, or status, but because the very idea of an occupation that baffled his countrymen made them—and him—laugh. “When I tell them that ‘anthropology’ is my profession . . . they think I am either speaking a strange language or referring to a new medicine.” This profound appreciation for humor, especially in the contradictions inherent in the study of cultures, is a distinctive theme of An Invitation to Laughter, Khuri’s astute memoir of life as an anthropologist in the Middle East.

A Christian Lebanese, Khuri offers up in this unusual autobiography both an insider’s and an outsider’s perspective on life in Lebanon, elsewhere in the Middle East, and in West Africa. Khuri entertains and informs with clever insights into such issues as the mentality of Arabs toward women, eating habits of the Arab world, the impact of Islam on West Africa, and the extravagant lifestyles of wealthy Arabs, and even offers a vision for a type of democracy that could succeed in the Middle East. In his life and work, as these astonishing essays make evident, Khuri demonstrated how the discipline of anthropology continues to make a difference in bridging dangerous divides.

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For the late Fuad I. Khuri, a distinguished career as an anthropologist began not because of typical concerns like accessibility, money, or status, but because the very idea of an occupation that baffled his countrymen made them—and him—laugh. “When I tell them that ‘anthropology’ is my profession . . . they think I am either speaking ...

Fuad I. Khuri (1935–2003) was professor of anthropology at the American University of Beirut from 1964 to 1987. Khuri held a series of visiting professorships at the London School of Economics, University of Manchester, University of Chicago, and University of Oregon. Among his many books are From Village to Suburb, Tribe and State in ...

other books by Fuad I. Khuri

Imams and Emirs: State, Religion and Sects in Islam
Imams and Emirs: State, Religion and Sects in Islam

Kobo ebook|Feb 1 2014

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.5 inPublished:May 15, 2007Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226434788

ISBN - 13:9780226434780

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Table of Contents

Foreword, by Richard Antoun
Prologue: The man himself, by Sonia Jalbout Khuri
Note on Arabic words

Introduction            Why “laughter”?
Chapter 1               Exploring origins: The choice of anthropology
Chapter 2               Studying anthropology in Oregon: “How wonderful!”
Chapter 3               Being Lebanese: A nationality or a profession?
Chapter 4               Religious syncretism: “I offer sacrifices to my ancestors on Friday because I am a Muslim”
Chapter 5               Lebanese traders in West Africa: Always ending the day in losses
Chapter 6               Change as faith: The restless Americans
Chapter 7               Teaching in Beirut: “Sir, keep this information to yourself”
Chapter 8               Establishing an Arab association for the social sciences: The tyranny of consensus
Chapter 9               The exotic in the suburbs of Beirut: “It is written”
Chapter 10             Alumni and ‘ulama in Bahrain: “We all seek knowledge”
Chapter 11             Open secrets: Discussable but not publishable
Chapter 12             Table manners in Yemen: Eat! Do not talk!
Chapter 13             The official policy toward emigration in Lebanon: “We eat bread, not potatoes”
Chapter 14             The Arab rich: “An ugly horse that wins the race is praised for its good looks”
Chapter 15             Who wants to be a za‘im? The agony of fame
Chapter 16             Living in Great Britain: “The best in the world”
 
Appendix 1            List of Research Projects
Appendix 2            List of Publications
Index

Editorial Reviews

"A book that every student of the Middle East and anthropology at large should read: a witty, well-written account of a life full of anthroplogical adventure."