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Three New Books by Marcia Inhorn

The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East, by Marcia C. Inhorn (Princeton University Press, 2012)

Since September 11th, 2001, Middle Eastern Muslim men have been particularly vilified as terrorists, religious zealots, and brutal oppressors of women. Against this backdrop of neo-Orientalist representation, anthropologist Marcia C. Inhorn presents a humanizing portrayal of ordinary Middle Eastern men as they struggle to overcome their infertility and childlessness. Based on two decades of ethnographic research with hundreds of Middle Eastern men from multiple nations, The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities and Islam in the Middle East presents the first book-length exploration of Middle Eastern men’s changing manhood. Through an “emergent masculinities” approach that challenges the concept of “hegemonic masculinity, Middle Eastern-style,” the book highlights emerging masculine subjectivities, marital commitments, and family formations. “New Arab men” are quite different from their forefathers, self-consciously rethinking the four notorious P’s—patriarchy, patrilineality, patrilocality, and polygyny—which are said to characterize family life across the Middle Eastern region. Instead, Middle Eastern men from a variety of social classes and religious backgrounds are unseating received wisdoms. This is especially true in childless marriages where, contrary to popular expectation, male infertility is more common than female infertility, and many men and women are devoted to their infertile spouses. Through in-depth ethnography undertaken in assisted reproductive technology (ART) clinics in four countries, Inhorn captures the marital, moral, and material commitments of infertile Middle Eastern couples undergoing assisted reproduction. Emerging technologies—particularly intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to overcome male infertility and egg donation to overcome age-related female infertility—are changing Middle Eastern couples’ lives and religious moralities. Although Islamic authorities have condoned assisted reproduction as a solution to human suffering, third-party reproductive assistance (sperm donation, egg donation, embryo donation, surrogacy) is still widely banned across the Sunni Muslim world from Morocco to Malaysia.  However, recent Shia Muslim fatwas have challenged this ban, leading to a thriving donor technology industry in both Iran and Lebanon, the only two Muslim countries to allow this practice. In today’s Middle East, men are rethinking their “Islamic masculinities” as they undertake transnational “egg quests” out of devotion to the infertile wives they love. Their quests for conception—set against the backdrop of war and economic uncertainty—are the compelling subject matter of this one-of-a-kind volume. The New Arab Man questions many taken-for-granted assumptions about Middle Eastern men as men in an era of emerging science and technology.

Medical Anthropology at the Intersections, edited by Marcia C. Inhorn and Emily A. Wentzell (Duke University Press, Spring 2012)

Medical Anthropology at the Intersections presents cutting-edge scholarship on the key areas of interdisciplinary connection that will shape the future of medical anthropology. Medical anthropology is the fastest growing anthropological subfield, likely because it addresses the discipline’s core concerns – including personhood, embodiment, the co-construction of biology and culture, and alleviation of social suffering – by linking them concretely to health advocacy and activism.  The subfield combines theory and practice in inherently interdisciplinary ways that excite scholars and practitioners from a range of disciplines. The forthcoming volume theorizes this interdisciplinarity, mapping the current state of the subfield and, most importantly, proposing key new directions that it may take.  Following an introduction by the editors outlining the subfield’s inherent interdisciplinarity, the book features chapters by some of the best-known and most influential scholars working in the field today, including: Lawrence Cohen, Didier Fassin, Emily Martin, Lynn Morgan, Arthur Kleinman, Margaret Lock, Richard Parker, Rayna Rapp and Faye Ginsburg, and Merrill Singer. Their chapters are revised and expanded versions of the plenary presentations given at the September 2009 Society for Medical Anthropology conference organized by the volume editors (www.yale.edu/macmillan/smaconference/). Held at Yale University, this conference was international in scope and drew more than 1,000 registrants from 50 countries. The meeting celebrated Medical Anthropology’s first 50 years of existence and sought to generate innovative plans for its future. Thus, this volume is intended to present world-famous scholars’ prescriptions for innovative new work in medical anthropology and the key fields with which it interacts. Once published, the book is bound to become a foundational text for medical anthropologists in the new millennium, and will also be useful for scholars and  practitioners from related fields, who are seeking to incorporate anthropological insights into their health research and activism.

Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies:  Sunni and Shia Perspectives, edited by Marcia C. Inhorn and Soraya Tremayne (Berghahn Books, Spring 2012)

This path-breaking volume explores the influence of Islamic attitudes on assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Since the birth in 1978 of England’s Louise Brown, the world’s first test-tube baby, ARTs designed to create human life have spread rapidly around the globe. With virtually all ARTs, sperm and eggs are retrieved from bodies, embryos are returned to bodies, and sometimes these reproductive materials are donated to other bodies or are used for the purposes of stem cell research. How and to what extent have Islamic legal scholars and Middle Eastern lawmakers, as well as Middle Eastern Muslim physicians and patients, grappled with the complex bioethical, legal and social issues that are raised in the process of attempting to conceive life in the face of infertility? The ten chapters in this volume point to interesting variations in both the Islamic jurisprudence and the cultural responses to ARTs, particularly between the majority Sunni and minority Shia branches of Islam. The scholars take a wide variety of approaches to studying ARTs in the Muslim world; these range from situating religious rulings on ARTs within Islamic history to examining contemporary intellectual and political discourses through field-based ethnography. The complex topics of marriage and a child’s lineage (nasab) are historically analyzed and positioned within the framework of both Sunni and Shia legal thought. The contemporary “Iranian ART revolution”—which has allowed third-party donor technologies for Shia Muslims—is analyzed from the perspective of “reproductive tourists,” as well as donors, surrogates, and infertile patients within and outside Iran. Throughout the volume, the key role of religious leaders and beliefs in determining the reproductive decisions of infertile couples comes across clearly; at the same time, the important role of the Middle Eastern nation-state is also highlighted through discussions of recent ART legislation. Unintended repercussions of some ARTs, such as sperm and egg donation, are also explored, and the issue of the rights of donor children is engaged as a topic of critical importance for the Muslim world. In this volume, cross-cultural comparisons between Sunni- and Shia-dominant Muslim countries, and between Muslim and non-Muslim nation-states, reveal striking similarities and differences, effectively defying East-West stereotypes. The ultimate goal of the volume is to further develop understandings of the rich nuances that define the practice of ARTs in the Muslim world.

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