This project was made possible by the cooperation, hospitality, and friendship of the people of al-Zawiya al-Hamra. To protect their privacy, I regret not being able to name each one of the men, women, and children whose words and practices are at the center of this book. I can only express my deep gratitude and appreciation for their kindness and warm friendship.
I am also grateful to my teachers and mentors at the University of Texas at Austin: James Brow, Bob Fernea, Clement Henry, Ian Manners, and Katie Stewart. My supervisor, Bob Fernea, has been a great source of inspiration during and after my graduate studies. His provocative questions and stimulating ideas have promoted my critical thinking and analysis of social life. I very much appreciate his deep knowledge of the Middle East and his dedication to his students. During my graduate studies at the University of Texas, I was fortunate to have the chance to study with two great teachers: James Brow and Katie Stewart. They both have been very influential in shaping my thoughts and have provided me with methodological and analytical tools that will continue to shape my work in years to come. I will always be indebted to them. Elizabeth Fernea has been extremely supportive since I first arrived in Austin. I very much appreciate her thoughtfulness and generosity.
I am grateful for the help and support of my friends and colleagues Jessica Chapin, Ben Feinberg, Petra Kuppinger, Barbara Ibrahim, Emily Lee, Sharon Nagy, Abou-Zeid Rageh, Lucine Taminian, Seteney Shami, and Huda Zurayk. Many thanks also to my friends at Swarthmore
My parents, although illiterate, have been strong believers in education, and their love has motivated my work throughout the years. Hans Löfgren, my husband, has been generous with his time and support since I started my fieldwork in Cairo. His love and unfailing support are present on every page of this book. I dedicate this book to him and to our wonderful daughter, Lena, who was born during the last stages of this project.
Thank you all very much.