Lila Abu-Shoud Vs Dubois

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Both Lila Abu-Lughod and Paul Willis detail acts of insurrection in their studied groups: Abu-Lughod draws on anecdotes about the Bedouin women of the Awlad ‘Ali while Willis describes the opposition of a group of English schoolboys to the school establishment. Although both groups demonstrate resistance through small acts of daily opposition, their fundamental approach to authority and power is very different. Abu-Lughod’s Bedouin women firmly believe in the moral values underlying their society, while Willis’ schoolboys want to undermine authority at every opportunity.

Both groups use humour to express their dissatisfaction with those in power. The rebellious schoolboys, who refer to themselves as “the lads” (Willis 1977: 11), use “having
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Similarly, the Awlad ‘Ali women use humour as a tool of resistance, making fun of men and manhood through their “sexually irreverent discourse” (Abu-Lughod 1990: 45). For example, one of the older women in the camp mocks the Bedouin preference for the birth of boys over girls by saying, “The boy’s name is exalted. He has a little pisser that dangles” (46). These are small, light-hearted acts of insubordination, yet they embody feelings of dissatisfaction with the status quo. And in both cases, weakness of character or physical attributes can often be the butt of their jokes. However, the schoolboys are more open and public in the expression of their feelings than the Bedouin women; also, they use humour constantly throughout the day and usually operate as a group, rather than as individuals, as is the case with the Awlad ‘Ali women.

There is a more fundamental difference in the nature and depth of the insubordination acted out by the two groups. In Willis’ schoolboys, there is a strong and ever-present opposition between the formal (school) and informal
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However, that these ghinnāwas exist at all is a testament to the fact that “Poetry…is exalted because a refusal to be dominated is key to Bedouin political life” (254).

Overall, there are some similarities between Willis’ rebellious schoolboys and Abu-Lughod’s Awlad ‘Ali women: both carry out acts of insurrection in response to authority and both use humour to great effect. However, the former rebel against the school system constantly and vociferously, while the latter generally accept the status quo and protest individually on a small scale if there is misuse of authority or their collective private life is disrupted. Also, such protests usually take a stylised form, in ghinnāwas, whereas “the lads” exhibit a variety of bold behaviours to indicate their
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