Reading in New Contexts

Essay by xhypekillsCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2007

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James C. Scott, in "Behind the Official Story", provides an approach to reading and understanding whenever the powerful and the disempowered connect with one another. In Honor and Shame, Lila Abu-Lughod is concerned about the new generation of Bedouins. The new generation is more concerned of being modernized rather than following the traditional way of Bedouin life. Abu-Lughod went to Egypt and lived with the Bedouins; she had encountered a bright young Bedouin girl called Kamla she was the daughter of the tribe’s chieftain. Abu-Lughod tells of Kamla’s story, she describes the complex relations among Bedouins and between Bedouins and outsiders: youths versus tradition-oriented elders, Bedouin tribes versus Egyptians, Bedouins versus Europeans, and so forth. In considering Abu-Lughod’s argument in terms of Scott’s work, it is apparent that there are several hidden transcripts present in Honor and Shame, someone familiar with the Bedouin culture is best suited to interpret these transcripts, and the work of these researchers is significant for the understanding of identities.

Honor and Shame focuses the reader’s attention on what Kamla stands to gain by breaking with her tradition and completing her education and what does she stand to lose. By telling Kamla's story in just this way, Abu-Lughod provokes the very emotions she wishes her readers to explore. Behind the Official Story describes Scott's permanent interest in the unruliness of the majority, as well as, his commitment to providing alternate perspective of the words and actions of the minority. Scott claims that by studying the discrepancies of public and hidden transcript, we can see how dominance affects behavior. This meaning that if we can notice how the two different societies, the majority and the minority, we can see how the majority behaves with the minority, and then by themselves. After we analyze the two groups,