The Physiognomy of Arak: Urban Anthropology
محتاط، محمد رضا. سيمای اراک: جامعه شناسى شهرى. تهران: نشر آگاه، ۱۳۶۸، ۲ جلد، ٨٩۶ص
Muhtat, Muhammad Riza. Sima-yi Arak: Jamiʻahshinasi-yi Shahri. Tehran: Nashr-i Agah, 1989, 2 Vols., 896pp.


The Physiognomy of Arak: Urban Anthropology

سيماي اراک: جامعه شناسى شهرى

This book provides the reader with a wide range of historical themes and contemporary topics about the city of Arak, the capital of Markazi Province in Iran. The encyclopaedic scope of the book ranges from ecological and geographical aspects, to demographical dimensions, to immigration, education, health, agriculture and the food industry. The sections on death rituals and graveyards and the carpet industry are among the more interesting and better organised sections of the book. The section on carpets, for instance, offers a good survey of less-discussed topics related to the industry, such as the sizes of carpets made in Arak, and the status of their exportation to other countries. 

The chief characteristic of the book, namely its encyclopaedic breadth, turns out to be the main problematic aspect of the volumes. The book does not follow a clearly defined plan and comes across as an unsystematic collection of data on different aspects of the city. The title suggests that this is a work on urban sociology but there is no single analytical or theoretical discussion that can substantiate this. 

The book can, however, provide some interesting raw data for further analysis, or direct the reader to consult relevant primary sources. The fact that the work was published by a well-known social science/humanities-focused publication house, Agah, illustrates the lack of work on sociological analysis until the early 1990s in Iran. 

Mohammadreza Hashemitaba
Hashemitaba, Mohammadreza. “English abstract of 'The Physiognomy of Arak: Urban Anthropology'". Translated by Mohammadreza Hashemitaba. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 120. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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