QUESTIONS FOR CRITICAL THINKING
1. Refer to the author’s interview with Latifa, pp. 98-105. Critically evaluate this interview. What questions do you believe the author leaves out? If you were conducting this interview, what questions would you ask?
2. Review the text, searching for the words of Abdul-Haq. List, describe and explore the themes that Abdul-Haq expresses in his opinions. Given that Abdul-Haq is only one informant, do you think that his opinions are marginal, or are they representative of larger themes in Moroccan society? To what extent do his themes reflect the ideas of other speakers in the text? Is he a trustworthy informant—why or why not?
3. Sometimes the words of informants in the text contradict their observed behavior. Find examples of these sorts of contradictions. What do these contradictions mean? Do people in other societies exhibit such contradictions in spoken words and actual behavior? What does this say about the process of fieldwork?
4. Argue for or against the following statement: Work in the factory improves the status of females in Moroccan society. Select at least three specific examples from your text to support your argument.
5. What information does the text provide about gender relations, marriage practices, and household structure? Choose one of these issues and use material from the text to explore and describe. Compare this aspect of Moroccan society with contemporary U.S. culture, as you know it.
6. Describe at least three ways in which this ethnography would be different if you, yourself, had done the research. Take into consideration: What issues mentioned interest you most? Are there research threads you would pursue that remained unexplored by the author? How would your age/gender/ethnic identity affect your access to the people studied, or their response to you? Which of your own personality traits might help or hinder your ability to live/conduct research in this culture?
7. Through tone, writing style, and direct response, the author often makes value judgments about what she is witnessing. Find instances in the text where the author seems to be approving, or disapproving, of the informants’ words or behaviors. Find instances where the author appears to be emotionally affected by her informants. Do you think her response affects the research? Discuss.
8. Do you believe there are moments in the text when the author could have and should have taken action to inform, assist, or argue with her informants? Describe those moments in the text and argue for or against intervention by the researcher.
9. What did you understand least about this book? Are there issues in the book--behaviors the author observed, words spoken by informants, ideas or arguments the author has made--that remain puzzling to you? List these issues, and write about what you do not understand.
10. Does this book change your understanding of everyday life in the Middle East? Does it alter your beliefs about gender issues in the Middle East? If so, describe how the book has changed your conceptions.
11. This book is based on knowledge gained from intensive field research, or ethnography. Of what value is this knowledge? Do you see any way this information can be applied?