Archive for feature

A history of ‘honour’

This is another, far longer section of writing which was removed from my thesis after the advice of the examiners. It’s kind of a history of how ‘honour’-based violence may have developed in Mesopotamia.

This will be the first of four posts:

Part one: A history of honour
Part two: The cradle of patriarchy
Part three: The castrated woman
Part four: The making of the Mesopotamian sex class

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The Fatherline and the Republic of Cousins

The Fatherline

(Edited to change the findings graphic to something more striking.)

Way back when the thesis that’s now a great chunk of paper on the floor to my right was just a bunch of ideas rotating around my head, I decided that I would take a tack to explain HBV which based in kinship rather than culture.

One of the most important terms I’ve had to learn and use to accomplish this is patriline.

A patriline is:

a system in which an individual belongs to his or her father’s lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, names, or titles through the male line. A patriline is literally a father line; one’s patriline is one’s father and his father and his father… and so on….

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Not a matter of personal preference

People have recently been tweeting at me for some clarification around the motivations of perpetrators of HBV. It’s something that is, emotionally, very hard to grasp: many parents and siblings can’t imagine deliberately inflicting violence upon a sister, daughter or niece because of a sense of shame.

We have to recognise that when we think that we’d show support and solidarity to a ‘shamed’ family member, we are saying this from a very different starting point: we are speaking as members of individualistic, loose-knit societies. Aref Abu-Rabia (2011, p. 38), says that the perpetration of an ‘honour’ killing should be considered ‘an organized social act by the family, not a matter of personal preference.’ Collectivist, tight-knit societies place much heaver burdens upon their members and have harsher responses to deviance. A loose-knit society might find a little deviance acceptable, even adding a pleasing touch of eccentricity and character, and there is more tolerance for a diversity of opinions. However, tight societies will tend to punish comparatively minor transgressions. The ‘tightest’ societies are often the most homogenous, those which have recent histories of agrarian production, and those which have experienced societal trauma like war and occupation. Read more


Honor, Agnation and Collectivity: Emerging issues in risk management

My paper has been published by the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, and people can see it and read it and everything!

If you can’t access it, or want something shorter, you can check out some of my other posts like:

The most dangerous job in the world

Written at Deeyah‘s request

Being a lawyer, journalist or trade unionist can be a job with more risk of physical injury than working in a mine or construction site – if those legal, literary or organisational skills are directed at securing human rights. It is those who work to secure the human rights of women, sexual and ethnic minorities and the poor who are the least secure themselves – vulnerable to state and corporate harassment from hired thugs, the forces of law and order, and armed groups, vulnerable to smear campaigns presenting them as terrorists, security threats or immoral persons, invasions of their privacy, harassment of friends and relatives, intimidation, imprisonment, the seizure of their assets and so on. Read more