A Trade Like Any Other

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A Trade Like Any Other by Nieuwkerk, Karin Van, 9780292787230
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  • ISBN: 9780292787230 | 0292787235
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Copyright: 9/1/1995

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"This fascinating ethnography of professional female entertainers in Egypt brings together issues and ideas relevant to dance, anthropology, ethnomusicology, gender studies, and area studies.... By providing new insight into historical, political, economic, religious, and cultural forces, van Nieuwkerk accounts for the ambivalent attitudes towards female professional performers in Egyptian society as well as the way they cope with their status." --Ethnomusicology In Egypt, singing and dancing are considered essential on happy occasions. Professional entertainers often perform at weddings and other celebrations, and a host family's prestige rises with the number, expense, and fame of the entertainers they hire. Paradoxically, however, the entertainers themselves are often viewed as disreputable people and are accorded little prestige in Egyptian society. This paradox forms the starting point of Karin van Nieuwkerk's look at the Egyptian entertainment trade. She explores the lives of female performers and the reasons why work they regard as "a trade like any other" is considered disreputable in Egyptian society. In particular, she demonstrates that while male entertainers are often viewed as simply "making a living," female performers are almost always considered bad, seductive women engaged in dishonorable conduct. She traces this perception to the social definition of the female body as always and only sexual and enticing--a perception that stigmatizes women entertainers even as it simultaneously offers them a means of livelihood.

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