WOMEN OF DEH KOH by Erika Friedl


Lives in an Iranian Village
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Friedl (Anthropology/Western Michigan Univ.) brings a poetic touch to this vibrant document on the women of an Iranian village. Friedl has spent five of the past 20 years living in Deh Koh (whose name literally means "mountain village"). Here, she tells 12 stories about the women of the village--with subjects ranging from the commonplace (marrriage and family relationships) to the unusual (rape and theft) to the more abstract (the conflict between rich and poor, past and present). There's the story of Gogol, for instance, who left her husband and then returned to him, and one of Setara (whose tale Friedl tells in the first person) and her several husbands. Friedl's underlying theme is the strength of spirit with which these women approach the challenges of everyday life and the conflicting conventions of a changing society. Deb Koh's women are isolated from city and country politics, yet touched by affairs of state (particularly the war with Iraq); most, preferring their old ways to the new, simply want to live within the confines of their traditions. An unusual and accessible anthropological study, told in satiny prose. (For another look at common folks' life behind Iran's borders, see Dodwell's A Traveller on Horseback, reviewed above.)

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