March 3, 2009
Life in a World Under Pashto
Secrets From The Field by Benedicte Grima, a female ethnographer, follows the author through her involvement in fieldwork in the Muslim world of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This area being as hostile and unfair to women as it is, Grima was received many questions by the ethnography community of life as woman under those circumstances. In her years there working with a society alien to her own, she has made cultural blunders from a lack of knowledge of how society operated, just as any other ethnographer would, which she gained valuable experience from to better fulfill the role of a woman in this culture.
The Grima is constantly working under the social idea of Pashto, which our author defines as a set of cultural beliefs and behavioral expectations held by all members within the society. Pashto is displayed in several situations throughout the text. For example, Men and women did not eat together. It was accepted that the men ate together and the women were in a separate room during dinner.
When Grima originally ented the area and culture, she was not completely seen as a functioning member of society. At first, she was still seen as a foreigner, not so much a woman under Pashto, which made it possible for her to associate with the men. As she immersed herself into the Pashto and picked up the customs and beliefs as well as take up the role of a woman there, they began to see her as one of the native women and she slowly lost her acknowledgment as an outsider and gained the responsibilities to conform to the culture. After she became a woman of Pashto, the men did not associate with her, just as they wouldn’t for any other woman.
In Grima‘s years there, she experienced many hard times. At one point in the text, the author was arrested for traveling with a man with whom she was not related to. She could have been beaten or executed for this offense, but...