During the revolution of January, 2011, the Egyptians, both men and women, united to fight for their right to social justice and freedom. This revolution brought on debates on issues such as the future of gender inequality, the role of women in public eyes, and what manhood means. These topics generated a heated discussion among the scholars, activists, religious leaders, members of the public, and politicians in Egypt. The book, “Live and Die Like a man”, presents a unique discussion on the topic of traditional understanding on the subject of gender and gender roles. The author focuses her arguments on men and she delves deeply into the subject and discusses how men are generally produced as gender subjects. The book further emphasizes how masculinity is maintained and endorsed by men and women alike in the society under the influence of the fluctuating political and socio-economic conditions (Ghannam 9). Farha lived and conducted her study in Al-Zawiya, a low-income region in the northern Cairo.
Farha Ghannam studied the region for twenty years. With her interviews of the local residents and her daily encounters and experiences, the author was able to create stories that portrayed the daily struggles that the people are going through in Al-Zawiya. In the book, we are introduced to Hiba and her husband, who are blessed with a son. They teach their son how to grow up to be a man. We meet Samer, who is forty-years-old and is struggling to find a suitable wife, and Abu Hosni, a man who has been struggling with a variety of illnesses. We also get to read the opinion of local men and women on the uprising and they all hope that it was going to change the situation in Egypt. Farha also develops the concept of masculine trajectories to explain the different methods that men use express themselves as per social norms. She shows the dehumanizing stereotypes of men from the Middle East that are frequently shown in the media reports (Ghannam 11). She creates a new space for rethinking and discussion of male-controlled structures in society and how they affect men and women in a community.
In “The Land of Open Grave-Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail”, anthropologist Jason De Leon discusses the most complex political issues in the world. Jason focuses on the issue of the human impacts of United States immigration policy. The land of Open Graves discloses the miseries and the deaths that occur on a daily basis on the Sonoran Desert in Arizona (De León 19). The undocumented migrants trying to cross the Mexican border into the United States use the route passing across this desert. Using ethnography, forensic science, archeology, and linguistics, the author presents an argument against the “Prevention through Deterrence” policy of America, which is adopted by the federal border enforcement officers and requires the migrants to cross the United States border through areas that experience extreme weather conditions entailing very are high chances of death for the person attempting it. For more than two decades, the “Prevention through Deterrence” policy has not been successful in preventing border crossing. It has only turned the rugged landscape of southern Arizona to a killing field because of the extreme environmental conditions.
Similarities in The Two Books
The books talk about social injustices that exist in a society anywhere in the world. In the “Live and Die Like a man,” the author focuses on the issue of gender inequality in the community. She brings to our attention how the superiority of masculinity has been retained and recognized by both men and women in a society. In the book, we meet Hiba and her husband, who want to teach their son to be a man (Ghannam 32). This action shows that even women contribute to the issue of male dominance because of the way they raise their male children. The male children are always raised to dominate over the women in the society. There is also the issue of social justice and freedom in the book, as there was a revolution in Egypt and the revolution helped the Egyptians fight for their right to freedom and social justice. When the local men and women in Al-Zawiya are asked about their opinion on the revolution, they all supported it because they hoped that it would soon bring changes to the situation in Egypt.
“The Land of Open Grave – Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail” by Jason De Leon provides the details of the journey of the undocumented immigrants, who are trying to cross the Mexican border and enter the United States. The journey is filled with sufferings and even death for the immigrants as they cross the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. The immigrants lack water and food. Therefore, most of them die of starvation. Some of those, who fall sick in the course of the journey, die due to lack of medication. Thus, the policy enforced by the federal border enforcement officers, “Prevention through Deterrence”, has forced the immigrants to cross the border through the rugged southern Arizona desert under extreme climatic conditions. Most of the immigrants have failed in this risky mission and have lost their lives. The federal border enforcement policy has not been effective in preventing illegal border crossing. However, the federal government has held onto the policy even after seeing the negative impacts of the policy (De León 40). The immigrants have been denied their freedom of movement by the federal government.
Differences in The Two Books
There are several differences between the two books. The “Live and Die Like a man”, by Farha Ghannam, focuses on the issue of social injustice in the society. The author lived in the Al-Zawiya neighborhood for twenty years studying the small community and how social injustice exhibited itself in the community. The author also talks about the issue of male dominance in society. Farha states how men and women contribute to the development and the reaffirmation of the issue of male dominance in the society (Ghannam 104). Young male children are always raised to dominate the society in what many parents refer to as “teaching their child to become a man.” The author also studies some of the male-controlled structures in society and how they affect men and women in society.
“The Land of Open Grave-Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail” by Jason De Leon focuses on the social injustices that the immigrants are experiencing on their journey to the United States through the Mexican border. The author provides the details of the misery and perils of the journey and the many cases of the death that occur in the course of the journey (De León 120). The immigrants are unjustly treated by the federal border policy, which requires them to cross the southern border through the desert, which experiences extreme environmental conditions and has a rugged topography, resulting in many deaths.
De León, Jason. The land of open graves: Living and dying on the migrant trail. Vol. 36. Univ of California Press, 2015.
Ghannam, Farha. Live and die like a man: Gender dynamics in urban Egypt. Stanford University Press, 2013.