Elizabeth Warnock Fernea (1927-2008) worked closely with her husband Robert A. Fernea for years as an ethnologist of African and Middle Eastern cultures. She has earned a reputation as a brilliant filmmaker and author. As a woman, her work in the field of ethnology bears special relevance. She was one of the first women to pursue such a career. Spending most of her time abroad in the various countries which she was researching, Fernea devoted her life to bringing the appreciation of these cultures home to America.
Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village was published in 1965. It is Fernea's second book. Largely, this edition precedes the highpoint of Fernea's career. She was still relatively anonymous to the public, but this volume along with her book Women and the Family in the Middle East: New Voices of Change, made a significant impact in American academy. In Guests of the Sheik, Fernea brings her feminine perspective into the study of ethnography by detailing her interactions with a sheik while in Iraq. The book shares a dual purpose: to educate Americans about Iraqi culture and to de-stigmatize the work of women in the Middle East.