Googling my mother, not Elizabeth Fernea

Curious if my meta tags and html text were correctly being indexed on Google, I did a search for my mother’s name “Liz Lobban” and was happy to see one of my web pages came up first in the search. As I scanned the page in the 10th or 11th spot, I found the entry below.

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Middle Eastern Women and the Invisible Economy: women and … – Google Books Result

by Richard Lobban, Elizabeth Warnock Fernea – 1998 – Social Science – 302 pages. This collection examines the “invisible” women of the Middle East and their vital economic activities.
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My life is full of surreal occurrences so this is just par. The universe brings me some interesting bits. You see above that my mother’s name is listed above created by the combo of Richard Lobban and Elizabeth Warnock Fernea. I don’t know Richard, but Elizabeth Fernea was the college professor at the University of Texas in Austin who deeply influenced me towards a degree in Middle Eastern Studies. Her books told stories of an American woman being dropped in the middle of the East and she survived. Her teaching style involved always allowing you to try for a better grade. I tried to take every class she offered and remember her being kind and serious, but really hoping to teach you something. I took her words with me to the Middle East and survived living in the West Bank, Syria and Jordan and took her teaching style to many of my own teaching experiences with children and adults.

Elizabeth Warnock FerneaI’ve search for her name a couple of times in the last 15 years, but Google fate would send me her way and yield a fantastic article from further searches reminding how positively she affected my life. How high she raised my standards by just giving me a chance to do better and not acting like the only person in the world who knew about the middle east. She was humble and fascinating and I believe she was the director of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies with only aB.A. She inspired me and motivated me with her gentle ways.

The most cherished thing I share with Elizabeth Fernea is her love of the Arab people and this area of the world. The Middle East is old school and serious and dangerous and spiritual and amazing. At many stopping points, it can be completely opposite of America but so often exactly the same thing. We all want safety and prosperity for our families. Food on the table. Bills paid. Someone to love. Music to dance. Something to be happy about. Some people care about the past, others the future. Some are good. Some bad. Some happy, some angry. Separated by space, language, the spices in the food and the sewing of the clothing, there are uncles and aunts, grandmothers, secret loves and forbidden taboos. Often the evil practices of rulers and military/government brand a whole culture withthat set of values. I don’t particularly want anyone to think President George W. Bush’s affairs represent my beliefs or life choices. Hell, I don’t want anyone to think they know be because I live in Texas, but I don’t have to tell any of that to Elizabeth Fernea. In fact, she is one of the people at UT who taught me to embrace the rest of the world without all the “give peace a chance” hippie stuff.

So if you think the towel headed, camel jockeys of the Middle East are all looking to blow up a building you should read one of Fernea’s books or try to catch find one of her films. Especially if the only info you get about this part of the world is on CNN or the nightly news. You’d get a more accurate account from the Daily Show. Elizabeth Fernea deals in real lives and history and the richness that makes the East so fascinating.

Cheers Elizabeth Fernea! You continue to inspired me.

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Elizabeth Warnock Fernea: Part of it all
She slips between countries and cultures with ease, never fully belonging but always at home

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2 Comments

  1. […] of things. I tried to sum up Elizabeth Fernea’s impact on my life in a recently post: Googling My Mother. My condolences to her family and friends. Possibly related posts: (automatically […]

  2. Thanks for this. I am in the process of writing the second of two obits for BJ and you really brought back all the wonderful times being in Austin, in graduate school in the ’70s when BJ and Bob were there.
    Sabra Webber


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