Playlist:  Urban Yemen and Rural Iran: Through An Ethnographic Lens by Jenna Makowski, Alexander Street Press

The clips in this playlist focus on two vastly different social groups living in the Middle East: urban Yemeni in the country's capital and the Turkmen in rural Iran. Connecting the dots between the two is an underlying ethnographic lens, shedding light on the nuance of cultural tradition and social change. In Yemen, a wedding ceremony is viewed in the context of qat, a mild recreational narcotic whose effects - both positive and negative - have become entwined in Yemeni culture. In rural Iran, major change is wrought upon traditional Turkmen society at the sudden introduction of electricity and television in the late 1990s, with drastic implications for social structure, the economy and gender roles.
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Introduction: Turkmens in Iran (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
The Turkmen are an ethnic minority living in the vast expanse of desert in northern and eastern Iran. Until the late 1990s, they lived in relative isolation, in small, family-oriented villages.
04:58
12 Aug 2013
Clip
History and Social Structure of the Turkmen (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
Historically, the Turkmen were nomadic, traveling from Central Asia to Mongolia, China and Iran. There is large-scale division between genders, and women have very little autonomy. The division is explained in the legend of a strong woman who could only be tamed by a ram. Thus, the ram horns are a powerful and overt symbol of Turkmen society, appearing in art, weaving patterns, architecture and daily life.
04:01
12 Aug 2013
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Circumcision and Religion (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
Most Turkmen villages have a mosque, and the ritual of circumcision for young boys is considered as important as a wedding day. The ritual is often accompanied by a festival, and is a rite of passage for all boys.
03:08
12 Aug 2013
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Marriage in Turkmen Culture (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
Marriage is always arranged in Turkmen culture, and the age at which two people may be married ranges from 9 to 40. The concept of women being owned by their fathers, husbands and sons underlies the entire social strata, and women are married with dowries.
05:37
12 Aug 2013
Clip
Labor in Turkmen Culture (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
Women take on most of the manual labor, including working the fields and weaving. They often work to the breaking point, and suicide is common.
03:48
12 Aug 2013
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Shamans, Disease and Healing (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
Shamans are considered a village's doctor, psychiatrist and healer. Demons are believed to be the root of disease, and healing comes with a shaman's spinning and warding off a demon with a sword. Lines blur between psychological attitude and illness, and the mind's control over the body.
04:49
12 Aug 2013
Clip
A Nomadic Way of Life: The Kashgai (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
Though most Turkmen in Iran live in villages, a small percentage still continue a nomadic way of life, following their sheep. The Kashgai of the southern Turkmen desert, for example, carry their entire villages on the backs of camels. In this clip, the anthropologist converses with a nomadic Turkmen, debating the advantages and disadvantages of life in Iran's capital.
03:44
12 Aug 2013
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Horses in Turkmen Culture (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
Wedding celebrations are often held in conjunction with games such as wrestling and horse racing, serving as a way to both remember and remedy a history tinged with war and conflict.
02:10
12 Aug 2013
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TV and Electricity Are Introduced to Turkmen Villages (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
Three years after their initial fieldwork, the anthropologists return to the Turkmen villages to find a drastically changed scene. Electricity, cars, buses and televisions have become part of daily life, changing peoples' habits and patterns. Many TVs pick up stations out of Russia, where the Turkmen are exposed to Western programs otherwise censured in Iran.
06:55
12 Aug 2013
Clip
From Camels to Cars (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
Another major change in Turkmen villages included the replacement of camels with cars. With it came changes in tradition and culture. Once a staple of the Turkmen economy and tradition, camels are now useless targets of children's games.
04:11
12 Aug 2013
Clip
New Markets and New Economies (Devil on the Roof)
written by Babak Karimi; directed by Babak Karimi; produced by Babak Karimi (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 2001), 1 hour 1 mins  
With changes in transportation and lifestyle, women in Turkmen villages now travel to urban areas to sell the products they create. There is increased interaction between urban and rural communities in Iran.
06:23
12 Aug 2013
Clip
Introduction: Qat in Yemen and Abroad (Yemen's Cultural Drug: Qat)
written by Damien Lewis, fl. 1997 and Dawn Hurley; directed by John Miles; produced by John Miles, Equilibrium Films (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1998), 54 mins  
Qat, a green plant chewed for its narcotic effects, is intertwined in Yemeni society. Fom its cultural significance as a tool for solidifying family ties through marriage to its economic impact on an increasingly dependent society, this film explores both the positive and negative effects of qat on individuals, families and Yemeni society.
05:46
12 Aug 2013
Clip
History of Yemen (Yemen's Cultural Drug: Qat)
written by Damien Lewis, fl. 1997 and Dawn Hurley; directed by John Miles; produced by John Miles, Equilibrium Films (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1998), 54 mins  
Located on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, Yemen's geography consists of vast desert expanses and isolated mountains. The capital of Yemen, Sana'a, is one of the oldest cities in the world and a center for qat trade, purchase and use.
03:36
12 Aug 2013
Clip
The Culture of Qat (Yemen's Cultural Drug: Qat)
written by Damien Lewis, fl. 1997 and Dawn Hurley; directed by John Miles; produced by John Miles, Equilibrium Films (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1998), 54 mins  
Qat is one of the primary goods sold at markets in Sana'a, an ecomonic lifeline for growers and distributors. Craftsmen, carvers, dagger-makers and their apprentices chew qat openly in the market for its attention-focusing qualities. By mid-afternoon, most Yemeni men and women join the ritual, often spending 3-4 hours chewing. Qat grower Abdulaziz is adament that qat-chewing is also a ritual that binds tribes together, and it will be an essential component of his upcoming wedding ceremony.
04:58
12 Aug 2013
Clip
History of Qat (Yemen's Cultural Drug: Qat)
written by Damien Lewis, fl. 1997 and Dawn Hurley; directed by John Miles; produced by John Miles, Equilibrium Films (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1998), 54 mins  
Qat is believed to have been discovered by a shepherd who noticed his goats were drawn to a certain plant, becoming hyperactive upon eating it. Though chewed throughout the southern Arabian peninsula and eastern Africa, it's only in Yemen that qat's addictive quality has become ingrained in cultural habits. During the civil war of the 1990s, both sides agreed to daily cease-fires in order to chew. The plant is Yemen's primary crop, filling mountains of terraced sides and picked daily for local markets.
07:02
12 Aug 2013
Clip
Negative Effects of Qat on Families (Yemen's Cultural Drug: Qat)
written by Damien Lewis, fl. 1997 and Dawn Hurley; directed by John Miles; produced by John Miles, Equilibrium Films (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1998), 54 mins  
Qat negatively affects impoverished families in Yemen, where addicted parents often spend money on the drug rather than food. Interviews with university students, many of whom are addicted to qat themselves, tell stories of family disfunction in the name of qat.
02:23
12 Aug 2013
Clip
Traditional Yemeni Wedding Ceremony and Qat (Yemen's Cultural Drug: Qat)
written by Damien Lewis, fl. 1997 and Dawn Hurley; directed by John Miles; produced by John Miles, Equilibrium Films (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1998), 54 mins  
The wedding of Abdulaziz is a hopeful catalyst for larger peace negotiations between two families. Deep-seated rituals and traditions underlie the multi-day ceremony, in which arguments and disputes are settled with the help of a sheik. Music, dance and qat all play critical roles in the ceremonies and the larger social functions at the heart of the wedding. According to the groom, qat was an essential tool that helped to mediate the dispute.
11:15
12 Aug 2013
Clip
The Highs and Lows of Qat (Yemen's Cultural Drug: Qat)
written by Damien Lewis, fl. 1997 and Dawn Hurley; directed by John Miles; produced by John Miles, Equilibrium Films (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1998), 54 mins  
One of the characteristics of qat is its ability to pull the user through periods of hyperactivity followed by lethargy. In the context of a wedding, this process shifts from intense dancing and music to poetry reading.
07:34
12 Aug 2013
Clip
The Science Behind Qat and Its Health Risks
written by Damien Lewis, fl. 1997 and Dawn Hurley; directed by John Miles; produced by John Miles, Equilibrium Films (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1998), 54 mins  
Qat's effects are caused by cathinone, an ingredient of amphetamines. In addition to the social risks of addiction, qat negatively affects sleep, diet, dental hygiene and heart rate. Furthermore, qat is grown with potentially deadly pesticides that don't always wash away before being chewed.
02:49
12 Aug 2013
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The Controversy of Qat (Yemen's Cultural Drug: Qat)
written by Damien Lewis, fl. 1997 and Dawn Hurley; directed by John Miles; produced by John Miles, Equilibrium Films (New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1998), 54 mins  
Controversy surrounds qat's addictive nature. While Yemeni expats and citizens like Abdulaziz claim qat is a tool used to bind communities and families together through mild recreational drug use, university students in Yemen recognize its addictive nature and the subsequent problems it causes. One thing remains certain: Removing qat from Yemeni culture is an impossible endeavor.
06:59
12 Aug 2013
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