[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the first in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise one-to-three parts, depending on the number of articles included.]
Anatolian Studies (Volume 67):
Agricultural innovation and resilience in a long-lived early farming community: the 1,500-year sequence at Neolithic to early Chalcolithic Çatalhöyük, central Anatolia
By: Amy Bogaard, Dragana Filipović, Andrew Fairbairn, Laura Green, Elizabeth Stroud, Dorian Fuller, Michael Charles
Abstract: Intensive archaeobotanical investigations at Çatalhöyük have created a unique opportunity to explore change and continuity in plant use through the ca 1,500-year Neolithic to early Chalcolithic sequence of an early established farming community. The combination of crops and herd animals in the earliest (Aceramic) part of the sequence reflects a distinct and diverse central Anatolian ‘package’ at the end of the eighth millennium cal. BC. Here we report evidence for near continual adjustment of cropping regimes through time at Çatalhöyük, featuring recruitment of minor crops or crop contaminants to become major staples. We use panarchy theory to frame an understanding of Çatalhöyük’s long-term sustainability, arguing that its resilience was a function of three key factors: its diverse initial crop spectrum, which acted as an archive for later innovations; its modular social structure, enabling small-scale experimentation and innovation in cropping at the household level; and its agglomerated social morphology, allowing successful developments to be scaled up across the wider community. This case study in long-term sustainability through flexible, changeable cropping strategies is significant not only for understanding so-called boom and bust cycles elsewhere but also for informing wider agro-ecological understanding of sustainable development in central Anatolia and beyond.
Reflections of faraway places: the Chalcolithic personal ornaments of Canhasan I
By: Emma L. Baysal
Abstract: Excavations during the 1960s of the site of Canhasan I in Karaman province in central Turkey revealed that the Chalcolithic ornaments of the region were both complex and varied. The ornaments of the site, consisting of beads (including pendants and plaques), bracelets and plugs or labrets, were made in many forms and from a variety of different materials, and thus hint at a connected world where ideas, resources and products moved from one place to another. While a catalogue of some of the artefacts has been produced previously (French 2010), this article details these ornaments and considers their temporal and geographical positions within the history of beads, bracelets and other decorative items for the first time. It explores legacies from the past, new fashions and the complicated relationships between material sources, technology, forms, style and use during a period and in an artefact category that have often been overlooked.
Patterns of metal procurement, manufacture and exchange in Early Bronze Age northwestern Anatolia: Demircihüyük and beyond
By: Michele Massa, Orlene McIlfatrick, Erkan Fidan
Abstract: This paper adds a new interpretive layer to the already extremely well-investigated site of Demircihüyük, a small Early Bronze Age settlement at the northwestern fringes of the central Anatolian plateau. It presents a reassessment of the evidence for prehistoric mining in the region, as well as a new programme of chemical composition analysis integrated with an object functional and technological typology of the site’s metal assemblages. The results reveal complex manufacturing techniques (such as bivalve mould casting, plating and lost wax) and the co-occurrence of several alloying types, including the earliest tin bronzes in the region. Object typology further indicates that the Demircihüyük community was at the intersection of two distinct metallurgical networks: one centred on the western Anatolian highlands, the other spanning the northern part of the central plateau. Additionally, several strands of evidence suggest that the beginning of interregional exchanges, linking central Anatolia to northern Levantine and Mesopotamian societies, may have started at an earlier date than the commonly assumed ca 3000–2800 BC.
Figurines of the Anatolian Early Bronze Age: the assemblage from Koçumbeli-Ankara
By: Çiğdem Atakuman
Abstract: Through analysis of a figurine assemblage from the site of Koçumbeli-Ankara, this study aims to re-evaluate the origins, meanings and functions of the Early Bronze Age (third millennium BC) anthropomorphic figurines of Anatolia. Conventional typological approaches to figurines are often focused on their origins and sex; however, such approaches hinder an understanding of the context of the norms of production, display and discard within which the figurines become more meaningful. Following an examination of breakage patterns and the decorative aspects of the Koçumbeli assemblage, a comparative review of figurine find contexts, raw materials and abstraction scales in Anatolia is provided, so that the social concerns underlying the use of these figurines can be explored. It is concluded that the origins of the figurines are difficult to pinpoint, due to the presence of similar items across a variety of regions of the Near East from the later Neolithic onwards. The sex of the figurines is equally ambiguous; while some human sexual features can be discerned, it is difficult to decide whether these features are ‘male’, ‘female’, both or beyond classification. Alternatively, the decoration, breakage and find contexts of the figurines suggest that the imagery was embedded in more complex perceptions of social status, death and social regeneration. The need for materialisation of these concerns in the form of the figurines could be related to the development of a new social landscape of interaction leading to political centralisation by the second millennium BC. Furthermore, the figurines were produced through a meaningful linking of particular raw materials and particular abstraction scales to particular use contexts, which seems to have shifted during the centralisation process.
The Hittite title Tuhkanti revisited: towards a precise characterisation of the office
By: Albert Planelles Orozco
Abstract: It is nowadays commonly accepted that the Hittite title Tuhkanti refers to the heir to the throne of Hattusa. However, while there are plenty of biographical works about individuals who held the title, there is a remarkable lack of studies about the position itself. Furthermore, there has until now been no complete compilation of the attestations of the word. With the aim of revisiting the role and the identity of the officer, this article catalogues all the occurrences of the term in Hittite contexts. Secondly, it offers a partially new characterisation of the office based on consideration of all the (currently known) attestations. The final picture that emerges diverts from the regular definition of a crown prince and reveals a type of emergency office, instituted in exceptional circumstances in order to reinforce the reigning dynasty.
Surface surveys in the northern Troad and the identification of Çiğlitepe as ancient Arisbe
By: Nurettin Arslan
Abstract: The region known as the Troad in western Anatolia is famed not only as the setting of Homer’s Iliad but also for the Hellespont strait (modern Çanakkale Boğazı) linking the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean. In addition to large cities such as Sigeum, Abydus and Lampsacus, ancient writers also mention smaller cities located on the Hellespont. In this article, the location of the ancient city of Arisbe, presumed to have existed between Abydus and Lampsacus, is examined in the light of new archaeological data. Between 2002 and 2010, the author conducted surveys in the northern Troad. These surveys revealed an ancient settlement with archaeological material belonging to the Late Bronze Age, late Geometric, Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods. The location of this settlement, the archaeological data and information from ancient literary sources all indicate that this site should be identified as Arisbe.
Funerary and votive monuments in Graeco-Roman Cilicia: Hellenistic, Roman and early Byzantine examples in the museums of Mersin and Alanya
By: Ergün Laflı
Abstract: In this contribution, 13 previously unpublished grave and votive monuments are analysed, plus two boundary markers. These monuments, housed in the museums of Mersin and Alanya in Cilicia in southern Asia Minor, are both artistic and epigraphic documents. Most of them were made in this region, but three were imported from Antioch-on-the-Orontes, Pisidia and the island of Delos, as can be deduced from their iconography. These new examples from Cilicia and eastern Pamphylia offer insights into the different concepts of μνῆμα or μνημεῖον (memorial) popular in Hellenistic and Roman times throughout Asia Minor.
Fortresses of the Tur Abdin and the confrontation between Rome and Persia
By: Anthony Comfort
Abstract: Although research is currently impossible on the ground, satellite photographs allow some further information to be gleaned concerning the region of the Tur Abdin, of crucial importance during the wars between the late Roman Empire and Sassanian Persia in the fourth to seventh century AD. This article examines the ancient sources and the reports of visitors to the area in the light of what is now visible to all via Google Earth and other suppliers of free satellite imagery. Apart from describing the remains of the fortresses and their role in defending an important redoubt against Persian attacks, it draws attention to the urgent necessity for proper ground surveys of what remains of the fortifications of various periods before these are completely destroyed by looting and reuse of building materials. Dams also present a substantial risk to some of the monuments discussed here.
Crimean Tatars in explorative and travel writing: 1782–1802
By: Beatrice Teissier
Abstract: This article discusses the portrayal of Crimea, particularly Crimean Tatars and their culture, through the writings of nine men and women who travelled in the region in the late 18th century. These writers travelled in different capacities and represent a diversity of viewpoints; they include figures of the Russian academic and political establishment and western European travellers, with or without Russian affiliations. The article sets their writings in the context of the imperial Russian rhetoric of conquest associated with the annexation of Crimea in 1783 and Catherine II’s tour of the area four years later. This rhetoric remains relevant today through the marked persistence of certain historic tropes in contemporary Russian attitudes towards Crimea. The article also discusses the writers’ responses to Crimea in the light of broader Enlightenment tropes in travel writing and ethnographic observation. It examines the extent to which the travellers’ accounts of Crimea were shaped by notions of ancient Greek heritage, Scythians and ‘Tartar hordes’, attitudes towards the Ottoman Empire (Crimea had previously been an Ottoman protectorate) and Islam, and 18th-century orientalism.
Arab Law Quarterly (Volume 31, Issue 2):
Kuwait’s Administrative Risk-based Model for the Prevention of Money Laundering: Costs and Benefits of Compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Standards
By: Asim Jusic
Abstract: During the period from 2013-2015, Kuwait adopted the new administrative risk-based anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regulatory framework. This article analyses the costs and benefits of the compliance of the new framework with the FATF’s standards, focusing on the structural changes: (1) a move from a hybrid-prosecutorial to a fully-fledged administrative model of financial intelligence unit; (2) adoption of the risk-based approach to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF); and (3) the increase in reporting obligations and preventive measures. The main argument advanced in the article is that while the new framework is highly compliant with FATF standards and will maintain the already low level of ML/TF in Kuwait, in comparison with the pre-2013 anti-money laundering regulations, the costs of compliance for reporting parties and clients are higher, and outweigh the benefits. The article suggests how to respond to this and other challenges.
The Radical Application of the Islamist Concept of Takfir
By: Mohamed Badar, Masaki Nagata, Tiphanie Tueni
Abstract: The ideology and actions of certain militant groups in the Middle East are often condemned as a perversion of Islamic precepts. In order to achieve a theologically ideal society, these groups espouse takfirism, a minority ideology that endorses violence, and in particular advocates the killing of other Muslims who are declared to be unbelievers. These groups justify their words and deeds with direct quotations from the Qur’an and the Sunna, which are the sources of Islamic law (Shari‘a), as well as by citing historical precedents such as the Khawarij movement and Ibn Taymiyya’s fatawa. This article aims to analyse how these groups (and in some cases state actors) defend their actions in legal terms and how mainstream Islamic scholars respond to what they consider to be doctrinal deviations.
The Caliphate State in Theory and Practice
By: Bawar Bammarny
Abstract: The history of Islām shows clearly how the question of the Caliphate is of central, enduring and great ongoing importance. While Christianity was split into different religious denominations, in particular during the 5th century due to theological questions about the divine and human nature of Christ, the biggest split in Islām was due to questions about the Caliphate. This article offers an introduction to the divergent approaches to government in Islām and a discussion of recent efforts to restore an Islāmic Caliphate.
Indexation of Mahr (Dower): A Precursor of the Law of Inflation in Iran
By: M.A. Ansari-pour
Abstract: One legal issue that has not been clarified properly by Muslim jurists is whether the creditor can claim the rate of inflation from the debtor, especially when the economy is suffering from a high inflation rate. One area where the issue of inflation was taken seriously was the payment of dower (mahr) fixed in Iranian money. Generally speaking, there was no clear ruling in the law allowing women to claim more than the face value of their dower, while the purchasing power of Iranian money had dropped steeply in comparison with the date of marriage. In order to tackle this problem, Parliament passed a very important law in 1997 (reiterated in 2013), that provides for the indexation of dower. This article deals with the indexation of money-dower and the way it is assessed under Iranian law. This law is the foundation of the law of inflation in Iran.
Arab Studies Quarterly (Volume 39 Issue 3):
Clovis Maksoud: The Departed, Who Is Forever Present
By: Walid Keilani
How Can I Ever Hope? In Memory of Clovis Maksoud
By: Samar Attar
Unrequited Hope: Obama and Palestine
By: Janice J. Terry
Abstract: The early hope that the two-state solution would be implemented during the Obama presidency faded as both the Mitchell and Kerry negotiations failed. Only during his final weeks in office did Obama agree to the US abstaining on a UN vote condemning the ongoing Israeli settlements in territory earmarked as part of a future Palestinian state. After he leaves the presidency, there is a slim chance that Obama might join Jimmy Cater in working to mobilize American voters and taxpayers around efforts by Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) and other movements to oppose pro-Zionist lobbies, especially American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and to force Congress and the President to pressure Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories and enable the creation of a de-militarized Palestinian state.
Unity on Palestine Without Arab Unity? US Policy and the Post-Maksoud Arab World
By: Khalil Mousa Marrar
Abstract: Taking off from Clovis Maksoud’s idea about the centrality of the Palestinians to Arab unity, this article traces out the historic struggle between secular nationalism and Islamism throughout and after the Arab Spring-turned-Winter and the complex interactions with American foreign policy. The trajectory of Middle Eastern and North African countries and politicized identity within them are analyzed in relation to that unsettled context. The article concludes with an evaluation of the possibilities for moving beyond the violence and authoritarianism in the Arab world using the lessons imparted by Maksoud.
The Palestinian Resistance Movement In Lebanon 1967–82: Survival, Challenges, and Opportunities
By: Rami Siklawi
Abstract: This article addresses the issue of the Palestinian resistance movement and its evolution and survival in the deeply divided state of Lebanon between 1967 and 1982. The Arab defeat in the 1967 war allowed the Palestinian resistance to present itself as the main resistance movement in the Arab World, and this automatically gave the Palestinians wider support in the Arab World. However, clashes between the Palestinian resistance and the right-wing Lebanese factions (who opposed the Palestinians and their military presence in Lebanon) eroded support for the Palestinian resistance, especially as the divisions and frictions spread during the Lebanese Civil War. This created seemingly endless clashes between the Palestinians and the Lebanese. These developments led to the fragmentation of the Palestinian resistance, which had always been an Israeli objective. Finally, the Israeli invasion of 1982 led to the ouster of the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Lebanon.
Arabica (Volume 64, Issue 3-4):
From Ġāyat al-ḥakīm to Šams al-maʿārif: Ways of Knowing and Paths of Power in Medieval Islam
By: Liana Saif
Abstract: In recent years, we have witnessed an efflorescence of research on Islamic esoteric traditions and occult thought. Such scholarly activity has established that the occult sciences are part of Islamic intellectual history that cannot be overlooked; rather, they constituted a primary mode by which people thought about the hidden, the extraordinary, and their potential for partaking in the divine and wondrous. Occult beliefs and practices are thus inextricably embedded in philosophical, scientific, and religious discourses. This article focuses on occult thought in medieval Islam (second-seventh/eighth-thirteenth centuries), particularly in its relation to the ways in which nature and the divine were perceived and experienced. I argue that medieval Islamic occult sciences distinguished themselves from forbidden siḥr or sorcery by identifying legitimate conditions of acquiring power on the basis of two differing paradigms: by association with natural philosophy on the one hand, and by association with Sufism on the other. A shift of emphasis occurred in the medieval period: from the second/eighth to the fifth/eleventh centuries, legitimisation of occult practices derived mainly from natural philosophy, stressing causation and knowledge of signs as the core principles of magical efficacy. By the seventh/thirteenth century, however, occult practices were increasingly justified on the basis of mystical and Sufi doctrines. During the first phase, magic was generally deemed natural, inasmuch as it functioned according to a causality proven empirically and understood rationally; during the second phase, the power of extraordinary acts, including magic, became the prerogative of a select group who has achieved non-rationalised revelation and theophany, which undermined natural causality and transformed signs from indicators of natural links into tokens of God and the spiritual agents mediating between Him and the gnostic. Scholars such as Pierre Lory, Constant Hamès, and Toufic Fahd have noted the difference between the magic of early Islam and that of the later Middle Period; however, this article elaborates on the epistemological transformations in this period and their implications for cosmological and ontological structures that had a direct impact on magical theory and practice. This article is in English.
In Defense of Geomancy: Šaraf al-Dīn Yazdī Rebuts Ibn Ḫaldūn’s Critique of the Occult Sciences
By: Matthew Melvin-Koushki
Abstract: The late 8th/14th century saw a renaissance of high occultism throughout Islamdom—a development alarming to puritan scholars. This includes Ibn Ḫaldūn (d. 808/1406), whose anti-occultist position in the Muqaddima is often assumed to be an example of his visionary empiricism; yet his goal is simply the recategorization of all occult sciences under the twin rubrics of magic and divination, and his veto persuades more on religious and social grounds than natural-scientific. Restoring the historian’s argument to its original state of debate with the burgeoning occultist movement associated with the Mamluk sultan Barqūq’s (r. 784/1382-791/1389 and 792/1390-801/1399) court reveals it to be not forward-thinking but rather conservative, fideist and indeed reactionary, as such closely allied with Ibn Qayyim al-Ǧawziyya’s (d. 751/1350) puritanical project in particular; and in any event, the eager patronage and pursuit of the occult sciences by early modern ruling and scholarly elites suggests that his appeal could only fall on deaf ears. That it also flatly opposed the forms of millennial sovereignty that would define the post-Mongol era was equally disqualifying. I here take Šaraf al‑Dīn ʿAlī Yazdī (d. 858/1454), Ibn Ḫaldūn’s younger colleague and fellow resident in Cairo, as his sparring partner from the opposing camp: the Timurid historian was a card-carrying occultist and member of the Iḫwān al-Ṣafāʾ network of neopythagorean-neoplatonic-monist thinkers then gaining prominence from India to Anatolia via Egypt. I further take geomancy (ʿilm al-raml) as a test case, since Yazdī wrote a tract in defense of the popular divinatory science that directly rebuts Ibn Ḫaldūn’s arguments in the Muqaddima. To set the stage for their debate, I briefly introduce contemporary geomantic theory and practice, then discuss Ibn Ḫaldūn’s and Yazdī’s respective theories of occultism with a view toward establishing points of agreement and disagreement; I also append a translation of Yazdī’s tract as a basis for this comparison. This article is in English.
Esotericist Reading Communities and the Early Circulation of the Sufi Occultist Aḥmad al-Būnī’s Works
By: Noah Gardiner
Abstract: The Ifrīqiyan cum Cairene Sufi Aḥmad al-Būnī (d. ca 622/1225 or 630/1232-1233) is a key figure in the history of the Islamicate occult sciences, particularly with regard to the “science of letters and names” (ʿilm al-ḥurūf wa-l-asmāʾ). Drawing on textual and manuscript evidence, this paper examines the role of esotericism—religious secrecy and exclusivity—in al-Būnī’s thought and in the promulgation and early circulation of his works in Egypt and environs. It is argued that al-Būnī intended his works only for elite Sufi initiates, and that, in the century or so after his death, they indeed circulated primarily in “esotericist reading communities,” groups of learned Sufis who guarded their contents from those outside their own circles. This tendency toward esotericism, and the eventual exposure of al-Būnī’s texts to a wider readership, are contextualized in relation to broader developments in late-medieval Mediterranean culture.This article is in English.
Illuminating the Lunar Mansions (manāzil al-qamar) in Šams al-maʿārif
By: Daniel Martin Varisco
Abstract: The lunar zodiac, generally known as the manāzil al-qamar in Arabic, served both as an astronomical and an astrological system. This was a system of 28 lunar “mansions” or “stations” in which the moon was said to station (nazala) each night of the sidereal month. For each of the asterisms of the mansions there were prognostications, astrological and mystical connections. One of the more widely traveled sources on this astrological content in the past three centuries has been based on the work of the 7th/13th century Aḥmad b. ʿAlī l-Būnī (d. ca 622/1225 or 630/1232-1233), especially the text known as Šams al-maʿārif. This article provides a translation and edition of the relevant section on the lunar mansions with a critical commentary. It is based primarily on a 11th/17th century manuscript preserved in Istanbul’s Süleymaniye library and attributed to al-Būnī.This article is in English.
In Search of ʿIzz al-Dīn Aydamir al-Ǧildakī, Mamlūk Alchemist
By: Nicholas G. Harris
Abstract: This article attempts to establish basic biographical information about the prolific Egyptian alchemist ʿIzz al-Dīn Aydamir al-Ǧildakī, more specifically his birth and death dates and his origin. To this end, the article makes use of and critics manuscripts and secondary sources in order to untangle probable facts from unsubstantiated assumptions. The result moves closer to identifying the time and place, and thus the historical context, for an influential alchemist in the medieval Islamic world.This article is in English.
Reading the Stars at the Ottoman Court: Bāyezīd II (r. 886/1481-918/1512) and His Celestial Interests
By: Ahmet Tunç Şen
Abstract: This study seeks to determine the extent of the patronage of the science of the stars (ʿilm al-nuǧūm) at the court of the eighth Ottoman sultan Bāyezīd II (r. 886/1481-918/1512). Throughout the medieval and early modern Islamicate world munaǧǧims (astronomer-astrologers) offered rulers their expertise in calculating heavenly configurations and interpreting them with a view to predicting future events; here the Ottoman polity is no exception. In the case of Bāyezīd II, however, the sheer number of munaǧǧims employed and texts and instruments commissioned by or dedicated to the sultan unequivocally singles him out and makes it possible to further argue that his deliberate attempt to personally study and cultivate the science of the stars was inextricably related to the broader political, ideological, and cultural agendas at the time. The first part of the article provides statistical evidence on the exceptional nature of Bāyezīd’s patronization of the science of the stars based upon a number of archival documents, taqwīms (annual almanac-prognostications) and related texts presented to the sultan. Here a number of key munaǧǧims active at his court will also be introduced. The second part focuses upon Bāyezīd’s own learned interests and intellectual aspirations, and examine the celestial inquiries of the sultan in light of a few curious archival reports, textual evidence from surviving manuscripts, and testimonies of his contemporaries.This article is in English.
Physiognomy (ʿilm-i firāsat) and Ottoman Statecraft: Discerning Morality and Justice
By: Emin Lelić
Abstract: In the tenth/sixteenth century six treatises on physiognomy (ʿilm-i firāsat)—a science widely considered able to predict inner moral dispositions (aḫlāq-i bāṭina) based on external appearances (aḥwāl-i ẓāhira)—were written for the Ottoman court. In a world in which statecraft and politics were ultimately based on questions of morality (aḫlāq), physiognomy was presented as a particularly useful skill for the Ottoman court due to its ability to evaluate inner moral character with scientific precision. Based on such knowledge, a partial conception of justice could be implemented with an instrumental coating of impartiality. Moreover, men with prized moral qualities could be selected for the ruling elite. The science also offered the sultan and his court a modus operandi for attaining self-knowledge and, if combined with moral self-disciplining (riyāḍat), a way to acquire divine characteristics.This article is in English.
Fears, Hopes, and Dreams: The Talismanic Shirts of Murād III
By: Özgen Felek
Abstract: There is much evidence that Ottoman Turks were interested in talismans and magic. However, this area has not yet been studied in depth. A few recent studies present information about material artifacts, but without deep analysis of the use of talismans and magic among Ottoman Sufis. The present study examines talismanic shirts prepared for the Ottoman sultans, in particular the shirts of Murād III (r. 982/1574-1003/1595), who was a devout disciple of a Ḫalwatī master, Šuǧāʿ Dede. After a brief introduction to talismanic shirts prepared for Ottoman sultans, I analyze the motifs, symbols, and divine words on the talismanic shirts produced for Murād III. I also explore what insights can be gained when his shirts are read together with his dream letters that he sent to his spiritual master. Intertextual reading of significant symbols on Sulṭān Murād’s shirts, when taken in conjunction with his letters, demonstrates that his shirts are infused with a more complex meaning than is evident at first glance.This article is in English.
Objectifying the Occult: Studying an Islamic Talismanic Shirt as an Embodied Object
By: Rose E. Muravchick
Abstract: Islamic talismanic shirts from pre-Mughal South Asia form a stylistically cohesive subset within the larger corpus of Islamic talismanic shirts from the patrimonial-bureaucratic period. These objects have eluded sustained study due, in large part, to their wide geographical purview and dissimilarity from other period textiles. While these objects bear some similarities with talismans of smaller shape and disparate media, their form as garments has yet to be considered as integral to their function. In analyzing one of these South Asian shirts, from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, parallels between the arts of the book and the construction of armor highlight the apotropaic function of Koranic text when placed on the human body.This article is in English.
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 44, Issue 3):
Israel, the Arab Spring, and the unfolding regional order in the Middle East: a strategic assessment
By: Philipp O. Amour
Abstract: Since 2011, geo-strategic interactions have exerted pressure on various political communities. In particular, uncertainty over the foreign policy intentions of new leadership elites and the nature of the unfolding regional security system in the Middle East have impacted the strategic questions Israel must answer: how can Israel rationally assess the new environment? What foreign policy approach would best serve Israel’s distinct national interests? Using insights from the levels-of-analysis framework and from the realist theory of International Relations, this article aims to explore Israel’s reading of recent regional developments and its attitudes and behaviours towards the attendant and emerging strategic challenges. The analysis reveals that the Arab Spring uprisings exacerbated the already anarchic Middle East environment, aggravating mistrust and antagonism in Israel. The urgency of the attraction of protectionism and militarism in Israel was an expression of the realist approach to Israel’s primary strategic consolidation. With time, the regional dynamic has evolved into a more predictable—but still complex—structure than it was during its early phase (2010–2013). Although there have been signs of potential regional political eruptions, other developments have promoted continuity in the Middle East, which plays to Israel’s strategic advantage.
Participatory governance or deliberative disjuncture? Exploring the state–civil society policy nexus in the gender mainstreaming programmes of seven Middle Eastern states 2005–2015
Abstract: To better understand why Middle Eastern states continue to languish at the bottom of world rankings on gender equality, this study presents critical discourse analysis of state and civil society organizations’ implementation of the Participative Democratic Model of gender mainstreaming. A requirement of the 1995 United Nations Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Participative Democratic Model entails state–civil society engagement to embed gender equality concerns in every stage of the policy process. It is in this context that the original contribution of the article is twofold. In methodological terms, it is argued that contemporary analysis of mainstreaming needs to examine the formative phase of policy implementation and the discourse between state elites and civil society organizations. This is integral to effective agenda-setting and coordinated action—and thus to securing successful gender-equality outcomes. In empirical terms, the study findings show how presently, across the Middle East, there are marked contrasts in state and civil society policy framing and issue prioritization. The resulting disjuncture is a hitherto under-examined pathology preventing the realization of the normative vision of gender equality in the region.
Contested modernity: divided rule and the birth of sectarianism, nationalism, and absolutism in Bahrain
By: Omar Hesham AlShehabi
Abstract: This study argues that political mobilization based on ethnosectarian identities in Bahrain is a modernist product of the contestations that occurred in the period of increasing British colonial involvement in the early twentieth century. Two concepts are utilized. The first is the colonial ‘ethnosectarian gaze’, marked primarily by its underlying epistemology that saw ethnosectarian cleavages as the main analytic units for approaching local political power, practice, and discourse. The second is ‘contested and divided rule’. With the advent of Curzon’s ‘forward policy’ in the Gulf, Britain actively divided sovereignty between itself and the local ruler, with actors on the island faced with two conflicting sources of jurisdiction. The British viewed issues of jurisdiction primarily through an ethnosectarian lens, and increasingly so did other actors, creating an inter-feeding dynamic between ethnosectarianism, nationalism, and divided rule. Two emergent forms of political mobilization are emphasized. The first mobilized based on ethnosectarian identity-specific demands and grievances. The other took an overtly nationalist, trans-sectarian, anti-colonial tone, having its roots in the al-Nahda renaissance that swept the Arab world in the nineteenth century. Thus, colonialism, absolutism, ethnosectarianism, and nationalism went hand in hand, products of a similar period of divided rule, their lingering effects still felt today.
Jordan’s self-fulfilling prophecy: the production of feeble political parties and the perceived perils of democracy
By: José Ciro Martínez
Abstract: This article analyses the depiction of political parties in a ‘hybrid regime’ so as to explain how state-sponsored articulatory practices contribute to the discrediting of potential opponents. Through an examination of textbooks, speeches and government documents combined with semi-structured interviews and participant observation, it dissects how tropes concerning party weakness or extremism make Jordan appear unprepared for democracy. Making the legal opposition seem menacing or incompetent helps the Hashemite regime legitimize the haphazard pace of political reforms. It is a crucial strategy through which the monarchy maintains the backing or tepid compliance of foreign and local supporters. Yet still, the discursive features of authoritarianism, in Jordan and elsewhere, continue to receive short shrift. Far from epiphenomenal, the monarchy’s discursive practices shape the conceptual universe and institutional contexts in which politics takes place.
The wall has feet but so do we: Palestinian workers in Israel and the ‘separation’ wall
By: Rachel Busbridge
Abstract: While the Israeli-constructed wall in the occupied West Bank seemingly signifies a shift to a policy of separation, every year thousands of West Bank Palestinians legally and illegally cross its bounds into Israel for work. In this article, I explore the varying regimes of (il)legality and (im)mobility that have accompanied the construction of the Israel–West Bank separation wall, which decisively impact the lives of Palestinians who work in Israel. The peculiar separation legislated by the wall, which is often treated as a de facto ‘border’, obscures the ways in which it facilitates continued Israeli territorial expansion and deepens the subjugation of the Palestinian population. As a border, the separation wall functions more as a colonial frontier, the asymmetry of which has powerful implications for the border crossings of documented and undocumented workers, as well as their respective experiences of illegality inside the West Bank and in Israel. It is in the context of West Banker Palestinians who work in Israel, I argue, that the doctrine of separation embodied in the wall is exposed as not only deceptive, but also obfuscating of the relation of asymmetrical dependence between the two entities.
A proper study of the discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Methodological implications of a large-scale study of the first Gaza war
By: David Kaposi
Abstract: Drawing on a large-scale study examining the British broadsheets’ coverage of the first Gaza war, this paper proposes some methodological considerations for analyzing the particularly emotive discourse on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and suggests a reflective multi-methodological approach to account for both the complexities and the intensities of the conflict. The paper starts by arguing that, working with a large data-set, quantitative data are both required and required to be interpreted by acts of contextualisation. Two strategies of contextualization are then introduced: interpreting patterns and associations in the numerical data. Following this, the paper continues by examining the findings and dilemmas that have emerged from quantitative analysis, using qualitative analysis of editorial extracts. It therefore shows examples for how quantitative codes can be built into and built up by narratives and arguments. Doing this, it also demonstrates possible ways of connecting qualitative to quantitative research: explanation, extension, and transformation/subversion.
Ziya Gökalp’s idea of cultural hybridity
By: Nedim Nomer
Abstract: This paper is a reflection on the distinctiveness and scope of the ideas of Ziya Gökalp (1876–1924), who played a key role in the formation of the ideology of the Turkish Republic created in 1923. Gökalp is generally cast by interpreters as a ‘Westernist’ or ‘modernist’ nationalist thinker, like many other thinkers in late developing societies, whose chief concern was the establishment of a modern Turkish nation-state and who, therefore, tried to combine Western knowledge with the culture of his own society. Contrary to received wisdom, I argue that Gökalp developed not just a model of modernity befitting Muslim Turks but also a distinctive general theory of social life, according to which the cultures of all societies are hybrid, i.e. blends of other (past and present) cultures. If this is correct, then Gökalp’s social thought is more than a mere specimen of late nationalist ideologies; it is applicable to all forms of social life just as much as the ideas of the European social theorists he cited.
Islamic political activism among Israel’s Negev Bedouin population
By: Lawrence Rubin
Abstract: This paper examines Islamic political activism among the Bedouin Arab citizens of Israel who reside in the Negev/Naqab (southern Israel). It describes how a religious-political movement became the dominant political force among the non-Jewish communities of the Negev, in doing so, this paper explores the link between religious-political ideology, represented by the Islamic movement, and tribalism, the dominant social-cultural influence among this population. While this paper is a first cut at trying to understand these linkages, I suggest that Israeli Islamist political leaders have mobilized support in two interconnected ways. First, they have attracted support through dawa (religious education), social-welfare activities, and mobilizing symbols. Second, Islamic political activists have worked within and exploited one of the most salient features of Bedouin life, tribalism, by recruiting support from the lower-status, largely urbanized, and landless tribes. These activities have taken place within the broader context of a changing landscape of identity within these communities of the Negev.
The Israeli–Egyptian talks at kilometer 101
By: Yinon Shlomo
Abstract: This article deals with the Israeli–Egyptian talks after the October 1973 War, which are known as the Kilometer 101 talks since most of them took place at this spot on the Suez–Cairo road. After 17 years of indirect Israeli–Egyptian discussions, representatives from both sides met for direct talks that led to an agreement that allowed solving the exigent problems, like prisoners of war exchange and supplies for the encircled Egyptian Third Army. After about a month the talks ended, allegedly due to disagreement on disengagement and separation of forces.
Contemporary Arab Affairs (Volume 10 Issue 3):
The Arab National Conference (ANC) and the resurgence of Arab nationalism
By: Ziad Hafez
Abstract: The Arab National Conference (ANC) is the prime popular Arab nationalist institution in the Arab world. Over the last three decades it has managed to reframe the Arab nationalist narrative and redefine the concept of Arab nationalism. The positions and statements of the ANC are key to the resurgence of Arab nationalism and to the understanding of events currently taking place in the Arab homeland.
Educational and economic dimensions in the Israeli project against occupied Jerusalem
By: Nadia Sa’d Al-Deen
Abstract: Emboldened by American partiality for the Israeli occupation and the feeble Arab-Islamic support for the Palestinian cause, Israel has been taking advantage, over the last five years, of the current events and changing conditions prevailing in the regional Arab system. The Israeli occupation authority employs the two contingent devices of education and the economy in occupied Jerusalem as a base for counter-action in its desperate effort to hit the collective political consciousness that demands terminating occupation, liberation and self-determination. The occupation authority in occupied Jerusalem has employed a systematic scheme to isolate the city from the rest of the West Bank territories. Their aim is to destroy its trade movement in order to tighten the loop of hegemony around the vital economic and social sectors, and to deprive the Palestinian Authority from returns of tourism. Life for the residents of the city has become complicated in every possible way, prompting them to abandon their city. All this would be a part of a ‘voluntary immigration’ policy as a prelude to Judaizing the city, evacuating its residents, replacing them with settlers and, ultimately, dropping the city off the partition claims. The measures adopted by the occupation authorities take advantage of the educational and economic dimensions and employ them as leverage for penetrating the articulating points of the resisting Jerusalemite society. This goal is being achieved by shaking the foundations of the educational system and by obstructing endeavours seeking to improve and propagate it. The occupation authority continued to perpetrate its scheme of ‘displacement/settlement’ when it recently expelled 100,000 Jerusalemites from their city. In light of the aforesaid, this research examines, as its main theme, the impact of putting the educational and economic dimensions to use in the Israeli project against occupied Jerusalem, on the fate of the city, and on the equation of the Arab–Israeli conflict. The paper also argues that it would be natural that a popular youth movement emerging in the face of Israel’s intransigence will nominate its own political leadership, dissociated from the political leadership of the Palestinian factions, so that insurrection can continue.
China and the Middle East security governance in the new era
By: Degang Sun
Abstract: In the 21st century, conflicts in the Middle East can generally be classified into four types, namely: conflicts between outside powers and Middle Eastern countries; between Middle Eastern countries themselves; between different political parties and religious sects within a sovereign country; as well as transnational and cross-border conflicts. The mode of China’s participation in Middle Eastern security governance includes political, security and social conflicts. There are three categories of domestic mechanisms in Chinese practice, specifically: the special envoy mechanism by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the procession and peace-keeping mechanisms by the Chinese Ministry of National Defense; and the foreign aid mechanism by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The China–Arab States Cooperation Forum, the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation, the United Nations and other international organizations constitute the major international regimes for China’s security governance. China’s Middle Eastern security governance creates not only ‘public goods’ for the region but also a means for China to build constructive great power relations with the United States, the European Union and Russia, among others. The styles of Chinese and Western security governance in the Middle East vary with the Chinese side placing most emphasis on improving the well-being of Middle Eastern peoples and placing this as the top priority on the agenda, followed by a ‘bottom-up’ roadmap, and the seeking of incremental, consultative, inclusive and selective governance in Middle East conflict resolution.
Civil society and democratic transformation in Mauritania: the paradigm of transition and the antecedents of political change
By: Ismail Bouganour
Abstract: Mauritania is among the poorest of the world’s nations due, in good measure, to its itinerant Bedouin population that has moved gradually towards urbanization in accordance with the new world order. The country has undergone extensive transformation in the face of international pressure and influence that were brought to bear on it, and their effects have affected the process of transformation, especially those pertaining to the acknowledgement of human rights and freedoms of citizens. The democratic transformation of Mauritania has to be understood in the context of factors interplaying between the social and cultural spheres, in particular the tribal nature of Mauritanian society which, in a de facto sense, designs the roadmap for action on the basis of the citizen’s perpetual tribal affiliation and belonging, as well as the interaction between economic and political reform conforming to economic demands. This study clarifies the democratic transformation that has taken place in Mauritania through particular phases. Although the transformation did not necessarily bring about change in the prevailing political modus operandi of the state, it did, nonetheless, change the balance of the ‘powers that be’ in favour of reform. The latter arose through the role played by political parties that enabled the development of civil society and the possibility for political reforms in future. The study analyses the Mauritanian experience with regard to the success of civil society institutions in furthering their goal of complete reciprocity between the people and their members, and in placing these issues at the heart of the discussion and achieving pioneering successes.
Culture of law at Arab universities
By: Adnan El Amine
Abstract: The prevalence of a culture of law at a sample of 36 Arab universities is studied in this study. It examines four dimensions of the culture of law: reference to law and its related terms in the universities discourse; teaching of law programmes and law courses; activities practised at the university that raise legal topics; and perceptions of faculty and students on the existence of a culture of law at the university. The results showed that the culture of law is fair to weak. There was not a single university in the sample that was classified as ‘above average’ in terms of the four dimensions. Five universities – all private – were classified as ‘below average’, one of which was religious and the others for-profit. Both expressions ‘rule of law’ and ‘culture of law’ were absent from the discourse. Unlike the discourse, there was not a single university lacking in the law curricula, be it programmes or courses. The existence of a college of law at a university contributes to the expansion of the culture of law at the university. The culture of law is further expanded as well at private not-for-profit universities in comparison with for-profit ones. Public universities in Tunisia lag behind other Arab universities in discourse due to their lack of interest in developing websites, whereas they are ahead in curricula and perceptions. Paradoxically, almost nothing has been written about the issue of culture of law (and the rule of law) in Arab universities. Although there is an abundance of writing on academic freedom, it does not fill the gap. It is not the remit of this paper to investigate the rule of law at Arab universities; that would require data collection on facts, practices and stories, although such a project is badly needed. Instead, it investigates the culture of law, since the author believes it is a reliable indicator of the status of the rule of law.
Civic engagement at Arab universities
By: Ghada Jouny
Abstract: This paper addresses the civic engagement concept within the discourse and curriculum of 36 universities in 15 Arab countries. Several keywords, such as ‘civic/civil’, ‘public affairs’ and ‘civil responsibility’, were searched for in the official discourse, as well as in programmes and courses. The findings showed that these words were used with different meanings and connotations in different circumstances. Most importantly, they were unrelated to the civic engagement concept and did not reflect the true adoption of, or serious orientation towards, the cause of civic engagement that was claimed to be championed when several of these 36 universities became part of the Ma’an Alliance and ratified the Talloires Declaration.
Democracy in Arab universities
By: Mounir Saidani
Abstract: The procedural concept of university democracy as relying on an existing customary or written law that guarantees a real, forthright, integral system of power and counter-power that can ensure the widest participation for all stakeholders in the management of university affairs, and in the management of the symbiotic relationship between the university and its social environment, was adopted for this study. In an attempt to measure the presence of democracy in the discourses, practices, courses and education curricula of 36 Arab universities in 18 Arab countries, the study was based on the findings of a survey collected on the discourses of the universities in question. Analytical material that detailed and documented examples of each of the ‘connotations on democracy’ was scrutinized. Conclusions show the ‘weakness’ to ‘no presence’ of democracy in some Arab universities’ curricula, programmes and courses. This may not be the result of a premeditated planning strategy, but rather one that is undoubtedly absent on coordination between the discourse of university leaders and the spread of the democracy in its meaning, behaviour and ethics within college life activities and course contents. In addition, there are forces that hinder democratic practice within the very university institutions that host democratic practice incentives. Analysis of both internal and external environments indicates an emphasis on the negative and stringent resistance to evolution by a large proportion of teachers, along with resistance to change in leaders.
International Journal of Middle East Studies (Volume 49, Issue 3):
Singing Heaven On Earth: Coptic Counterpublics and Popular Song At Egyptian Mūlid Festivals
By: Carolyn M. Ramzy
Abstract: This article explores the performative politics of devotional soundscapes at Coptic Christian mūlid festivals. Echoing the state’s reformist efforts in the 1990s to transform Muslim saint festivals into utilitarian spaces and their goers into “modern” Egyptian citizens, today the Coptic Church works to refashion these popular festivals from places of debauchery into morally productive spaces. Aided by affluent Cairene-based volunteers, church choirs travel from Cairo’s poshest neighborhoods to these festivals to actively sing, disseminate, and teach popular religious songs (taratīl) in an effort to develop poorer Christian pilgrims into modern, pious, and more audible “citizens of heaven.” Through the analysis of one church choir’s taratīl ministry at the mūlid, I illustrate how middle-class spiritual volunteers disrupt and, at times, reinscribe the Coptic Church’s disciplinary efforts on the festival’s poorer pilgrims, particularly as they look to modernize popular festivity into grounds of Christian ethical transformation.
The Social Life of Academic Discourse: Reflections on the Analysis of Piety Politics
By: Dunya D. Cakir
Abstract: Examining the writings of prominent Islamist women intellectuals in Turkey, including Fatma Barbarosoğlu, Cihan Aktaş, Yıldız Ramazanoğlu, and Nazife Şişman, this article explores the repercussions of their intellectual activism for how scholars understand and study piety politics. These Islamist women intellectuals, whose discourse and subjectivities have been translated into analytical categories by scholars of piety politics, contest the terms of their encounters with academics and, more broadly, the conversion of Muslim women into objects of research. Their writings shed light on the complex interpretative interplay between academic and lay discourse when the objects of scholarly study speak back to social scientists. I argue that these kinds of critical engagements between Islamist women intellectuals and social scientific discourses attest to the mobility and circularity of social scientific categories, which have infused and reconstituted Islamist debates in Turkey. Rather than uncritically endorse or dispute these intellectuals’ interpretations of social scientific accounts, I leverage their claims to underscore the social life of academic discourse and to promote an enriched vision of piety politics and reflexive methodology.
Salafi Thought in Turkish Public Discourse Since 1980
By: Andrew Hammond
Abstract: Turkey has been absent from the growing literature on the phenomenon of transnational Salafism. A tendency among Middle East specialists to focus on Arab regions and in Turkey on the Islamist movement and its long struggle with the Kemalist establishment has perpetuated the notion of Turkey as a category apart. This article argues that, on the contrary, Salafism is a fringe strand of Turkish Islam that began to evolve in the context of the state’s effort in the 1980s to recalibrate religion as a complement to nationalism. Salafism became a topic of discussion in media and scholarly writing in Turkish religious studies faculties, while self-styled Salafi preachers trained in Saudi Arabia found a niche through publishing houses. These publishers facilitated the translation into Turkish of Arabic texts by important Saudi religious scholars in an effort to change the discursive landscape of Islam in Turkey. I show that contra assumptions of a rich Sufi tradition acting as a block against modern Salafi ideas, Salafism managed to gain a foothold in Turkey, facilitated in part by the republic’s experience of secular materialism.
Censoring the Kishkophone: Religion and State Power in Mubarak’s Egypt
By: Aaron Rock-Singer
Abstract: How do states produce religion and how can the study of state censorship cast light on this phenomenon? This article examines the logic by which two Egyptian government bodies, the Ministry of Culture and the Islamic Research Academy, censored the sermons of a premier Islamist preacher, Shaykh ʿAbd al-Hamid Kishk (d. 1999), between 1987 and 1993. To do so, it draws on two distinct sets of sources: a sixteen-volume printed edition of Kishk’s sermons published in Egypt and MP3s of original performances recorded initially by audiocassette. While previous studies on religion and state power in the Middle East emphasize the strategies by which states use religion to assert their interests, this article uses the censorship of a leading antiregime preacher to probe the undertheorized distinction between claiming and producing religion. A focus on the strategies, in turn, casts light on both the internal diversity of religious visions within the Egyptian state and on the subtle, yet significant, ways in which state actors not only censor but also are shaped by their Islamist challengers.
Cleansing the Nations of the “Dogs of Hell”: ʿAli Jumʿa’s Nationalist Legal Reasoning in Support of the 2013 Egyptian Coup and its Bloody Aftermath
By: David H. Warren
Abstract: This article contributes to an emerging scholarly debate over the support displayed by key Azhari ʿulamaʾ for the 3 July 2013 coup in Egypt and the subsequent massacres of anticoup protesters. I focus on the Islamic legal justifications articulated by the former grand mufti of Egypt ʿAli Jumʿa, which academics have contextualized primarily in relation to quietist precedents from late medieval Islamic political thought or his Sufi background. By contrast, I consider Jumʿa’s justifications as representative of a nationalist discourse that has its historical origins in the protonationalism of Rifaʿa al-Tahtawi (d. 1873). My argument has wider implications for our conceptualization of the contemporary Islamic tradition. If, as scholars have argued, the Islamic tradition is a framework for inquiry rather than a set of doctrines, then in the 19th century a concern for the nation and its future became a key part of that framework. I contend that these additions came to redefine the worldview and politics of the ʿulamaʾ in terms of national progress and its horizon of expectations.
Rentier Islamism in the Absence of Elections: The Political Role of Muslim Brotherhood Affiliates in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates
By: Courtney Freer
Abstract: Drawing on contemporary history and empirical research, this article revises traditional rentier state theory, which fails to account for the existence of Islamist movements in states accruing substantial outside wealth. Rentier state theory expects that citizens of such states will form opposition blocs only when their stake in rent income is threatened. Examining the development of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in two archetypal rentier states, or super-rentiers, in the Gulf—Qatar and the United Arab Emirates—this article shows that ideology rather than rent motivated the formation of independent Islamist movements. This research helps to break the causal link established by rentier state theory between oil rents and lack of politically relevant Islamist organizations. We find that the presence of oil rents, instead of rendering Islamist complaint politically irrelevant, shapes the ways in which Islamist movements seek to influence government policies.
Iranian Studies (Volume 50, Issue 5):
Pioneering Iranian Studies in Meiji Japan: Between Modern Academia and International Strategy
By: Kenji Kuroda
Abstract: This article explores the relationship between academic studies concerning Iran in Meiji Japan (1868‒1912) and Orientalism in Western scholarship. Many researchers who have limited their definition of Iranian studies to the professional works published since the 1930s have concluded that there is an indirect relation between Iranian studies in Japan and Orientalism. In contrast, this paper takes it in a wider sense to mean all academic studies regarding Iran. The paper focuses on two such important proto-academic fields regarding foreign countries in Meiji Japan: geography and international politics. It concludes that the pioneering Iranian studies scholars in the Meiji period were not totally immune to Orientalism on the one hand but, on the other, that their research on Iran was less closely connected to imperialism than the Western scholarship that Edward Said famously critiqued.
Rethinking the Ottoman Imitation of Persian Poetry
By: Murat Umut Inan
Abstract: This article revisits the common discourse that Ottoman poetry is a derivative imitation of Persian poetry. I begin by surveying and discussing the discourse of imitation that has pervaded approaches to Ottoman poetry in particular and Ottoman literature in general. Then I turn to explore how Ottoman poets engaged with Persian poetry by focusing on a lyric poem composed by the Ottoman sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (1494‒1566) in imitation of the Persian master poet Hafiz of Shiraz (ca. 1315‒90). In light of intertextual analysis, I illustrate and discuss the intricate ways in which Süleyman models himself on Hafiz in crafting his poem. I conclude with the idea that a closer analytical look at Ottoman poets’ intertextual dialogue with Persian poetry can offer better insights into the Ottoman reception of Persian poetic models as well as into the meaning and workings of imitation in the Ottoman literary context.
From Bukhara to Dushanbe: Outlining the Evolution of Soviet Tajik Fiction
By: Evelin Grassi
Abstract: This article offers an overview of Soviet Tajik Fiction under Stalinism (1920s–1950s) and during de-Stalinization (1950s–1970s) by contemplating the move from Bukhara to Dushanbe as a setting for Tajik stories and novels. In particular, it details the two main literary genres of the period, namely historical and psychological fiction. It argues that when tracing the main stages of evolution of Soviet Tajik fiction from the point of view of the setting one should mainly consider the works by Sadriddin Ayni, Jalol Ikromi and Fazliddin Muhammadiev.
Division and Discord among the Shia ʿUlamāʾ: New Lights on the Failure of the 1927 Anti-Conscription Movement in Iran
By: Najm al-Din Yousefi
Abstract: This essay delves into the 1927 anti-conscription movement and the causes of its failure. It argues that the Shia ʿulamāʾ of Iran and Iraq suffered from endemic divisions within their ranks, which in turn kept them from agreeing on a unified position against the extensive socioeconomic and military reforms under Reza Shah. The essay sheds light on the government’s use of religious justification that facilitated modern reforms. It also demonstrates how certain elements within the clerical establishment helped the Reza Shah government to win the senior clerics over or at least neutralize their opposition. This allows us to discern the fluid boundaries of tradition and modernity as modernizing reforms checked the Shia ʿulamāʾ’s long-standing authority in Iranian society.
Iranian Studies (Volume 50, Issue 6):
Persianisms: The Achaemenid Court in Greek Art, 380–330 BCE
By: Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones
Abstract: The Persians held sway over the Greek imagination for more than 200 years. The image of Persia shifted in that time from xenophobic hostility, caused through fear of the encroaching presence of the Persian empire, through to curious acceptance of its dominance. Much study has been given to the formative decades of the construction of the Persian “Other” in Greek art, but the fourth-century image of Persia has remained relatively unexplored. This paper demonstrates how Greek artists of the period 380–330 BCE fixated on the life and accomplishments of the court of the Achaemenid Great Kings and argues that instead of offering an orientalist clichéd view of Persian life, it attempted to understand and disseminate bone fide Iranian images of court society.
Who Has the Biggest Bulls? Royal Power and the Persepolis Apadāna
By: Janett Morgan
Abstract: Relationships between power and architecture are a feature of all great civilizations and the Achaemenid world was no exception to this. The architecture of Achaemenid buildings and their relief sculpture was designed to reflect and reinforce the power and status of the Great King. At the heart of this visual program lay the audience hall (apadāna) at Persepolis. In seeking to explain and understand the messages written into this building, we tend to approach the structure as a completed work and view it from the last point in its lifecycle. As a result, we focus on its tribute procession relief and allow ideas of empire to dominate our gaze. This limits our ability to understand how and why the building’s intended audience and message of power might have diverged at different stages in its construction. This article re-examines the art and architecture of the audience hall at Persepolis and redirects the viewer’s gaze to the images of bulls rather than the tribute procession. In focusing on the role of bulls in the scheme of decoration, the article presents a more nuanced reading of the building in its historical, social and architectural context. It shows how Darius I used the Persepolis apadāna to display his authority to rule and to assert the primacy of his status amongst his fellow elites.
Illustrating History: Rashid al-Din and his Compendium of Chronicles
By: Sheila Blair
Abstract: The Arabic copy of Rashid al-Din’s Jāmiʿ al-tavārīkh dated 714/1314‒15 and divided between Edinburgh University Library (Or. ms. 20) and the Khalili Collection in London (ms. 727) is of seminal importance as one of the first and most extensively illustrated histories produced in Iran. This article examines four paintings from the manuscript to suggest why the patron wanted to add illustrations and how artists in his atelier adopted and adapted elements from Chinese painting in order to disseminate the text and enhance its meaning.
Holy Figures Portrayed in the Edinburgh Fragment of Rashīd al-Dīn’s World History
By: Robert Hillenbrand
Abstract: This paper has two purposes. One is to look carefully at the way that the stories of Sālih and Samson are told in the Edinburgh fragment of Rashīd al-Dīn’s World History and its accompanying illustrations, and the messages that these convey. The second is to explore the interplay of text and image in what might be termed “the Moses cycle” and to consider the motivation for the unusual textual and pictorial emphasis on Moses. Several aspects of the cycle are analyzed: Moses as an antetype of Rashīd al-Dīn himself, the impact of the Qur’anic text and Moses as a precursor of the Prophet Muhammad.
Persia through the Lens: Poetics and Politics of Architectural Photographs in Pahlavi Iran
By: Yuka Kadoi
Abstract: Having been introduced to the scholarly community and the general public through a variety of photographic presentations during the inter-war period, monuments in Iran, particularly those of pre-modern Islamic periods, became key buildings to be seized upon as the ultimate embodiment of Persian beauty. The lasting image of Persian Islamic architecture that was articulated through photographs continues not only to set an important benchmark for the understanding of the aesthetic and political matrix of the early twentieth century but also to provoke a methodological question as to the future of Persian architectural studies.
“Art is a Sincere Martyrdom”: Circumventing Censorship by Encryption in the Work of Alireza Espahbod
By: Aida Foroutan
Abstract: This paper focuses on various aspects of Alireza Espahbod’s style of painting that encrypt his work. The period considered is from the just after the Iranian revolution until the artist’s death in 2007: in these years censorship had become severe, resulting in banning prohibition on his work being exhibited. Apart from the striking symbols that recur throughout his work, it is noticeable that he favors certain visual metaphors for encryption of humanitarian and satirical meanings. The discussion also focuses on the ways in which sequences of his individual paintings create narratives, like scenes in a play or a film. Unlike some preceding modernists, Espahbod is firmly rooted in his Iranian cultural milieu, and is in a line of artists who have used surrealism, beginning with Sadegh Hedayat in the modern literary world. He also follows a much older tradition that goes back to classical poetry and miniature art, in which image and word coalesce and are interchangeable, and where literature and visual art reflect one another. He uses these older techniques to comment allusively on the dramatic events and conditions of his own time. It is argued that his work amounts to more than that of an artist who merely fought against censorship, as his art rises above it and responds to it with a positive message for his audience.
Peripherality and Humor in the Iranian Art Film
By: Chris Lippard
Abstract: This paper examines a range of post-revolutionary Iranian art films, mostly those watched primarily outside the country via festival screenings, in the context of the relationship between the tropes of peripherality and humor. It argues for the significance and complexity of both terms in the context of this cinema and of the global image of Iran and its peoples. Having examined a kind of humor based on the geographic periphery, specifically derived from relationships between technology, car, and camera, it concludes by reflecting on the advent of new technologies, and social constraints and opportunities in the Iranian art cinema today.
Shooting the Isolation and Marginality of Masculinities in Iranian Cinema
By: Nacim Pak-Shiraz
Abstract: This article examines the isolation and marginality of Iranian men living in contemporary Iran with a focus on three post-2005 films. As a patriarchal society, Iran has been the subject of many studies on the subjugation and marginality of women. This study demonstrates how recent Iranian films have skillfully employed the cinematic language to narrate men’s stories of alienation and despair. These filmic constructions provide a valuable and complex insight into masculine identities, challenging perceptions of the essentialized image of the Middle Eastern male. By employing Connell’s hierarchy of masculinities, the article demonstrates the position of marginalized men in relation to the dominant ideals of masculinity and the influence of these discourses on the lives of such men. The films discussed here do not perpetuate the construction of the ‘true’ gender, but instead challenge ideas of heroism, manliness and patriarchy.
Islamic Law and Society (Volume 24, Issue 3):
Divine Purposiveness and its Implications in Legal Theory: The Interplay of Kalām and Uṣūl al-Fiqh
By: Rami Koujah
Abstract: While jurisprudents agree that the Sharīʿa serves to benefit human beings because God is wise and merciful, they disagree as to the nature of the correlation between God’s rulings and these benefits. Does God legislate with the purpose of benefitting consumers of the law? In this essay I investigate the Ashʿarī doctrine on whether God can be said to act purposively and how this doctrine influences legal theory (uṣūl al-fiqh). I will examine Sayf al-Dīn al-Āmidī’s position on this issue in his theological writings and his work on legal theory. By focusing on one particular aspect of legal theory, I will demonstrate how the issue of purposiveness in God’s acts substantively impacts methodologies for the derivation of legal rules. I will then highlight the mechanisms al-Āmidī develops as a means of constructing a theory that maintains consistency and integrity, and compare his view to that of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s (d. 606/1209).
Qurʾān and Sunna or the Madhhabs?: A Salafi Polemic Against Islamic Legal Tradition
By: Emad Hamdeh
Abstract: The Albanian scholar Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī (d. 1999) established a unique type of Salafism, a movement whose adherents follow a puritanical model of Muslim creed, exegesis, and conduct that is critical of madhhab Traditionalism. In this article I present an annotated translation of an audio lecture in which Albānī attempted to defend Salafism against its anti-madhhab image. I shed light on the religious and social climate that played a critical role in triggering Albānī’s disdain for Traditionalism and led him to discredit madhhab Traditionalist fiqh and replace it with his own interpretation of the jurisprudential requirements of Islamic scripture. Among the arguments I make is that Albānī’s claim to follow only the Qurʾān and Sunna is a rhetorical strategy designed to present Salafism as the absolute truth and distinguish it from being categorized as another madhhab or religious movement.
Islamic Norms, Common Law, and Legal Reasoning: Muslim Personal Law and the Economic Consequences of Divorce in India
By: Narendra Subramanian
Abstract: Two major judgments of the Indian Supreme Court that awarded Muslim women alimony had very different consequences: Shah Bano (1985) evoked extensive conservative Muslim protest that led to legislation meant to limit alimony among Muslims, while Danial Latifi (2001) faced no overt opposition and was not overturned. These consequences were related to the sources and modes of reasoning used. Shah Bano independently interpreted Qurʾanic verses, suggested that commonly applicable laws may override religious law provisions, and called for uniform family laws. Danial Latifi relied solely on statutes of Indian Muslim law and Islamic norms. It thus followed the Indian state’s usual approach to personal law, which is sensitive to public preference that family life should be regulated according to religious and other cultural norms. However, public opinion provided support to change Muslim law earlier than the 1970s. More extensive changes could be introduced over the next decade in Muslim law based on Islamic norms and Muslim opinion.
Israel Studies (Volume 22, Issue 2):
Like a Phoenix: The Renaissance of Sephardic/Mizrahi Identity in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s
By: Avi Picard
Abstract: During Israel’s first decades, conflict between immigrants from Islamic countries and the Israeli establishment focused on questions regarding equality. The immigrants protested against discrimination in the labor market, against poor housing conditions, and against police brutality. The question of Mizrahi culture and identity was barely mentioned. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, the ethnic discourse in Israel shifted from economic issues to cultural issues. Different groups challenged the school curriculum, asking for more attention to the history and literature of Jews from Islamic countries. Mizrahi music started to develop on the fringe of the Israeli musical scene and moved slowly into the mainstream. Political parties (Tami and Shas) identified with Mizrahi identity and emphasizing it, started to appear and to achieve success. This article provides examples of the expression of identity and culture in different fields and analyzes the causes of this change.
Philoumenos of Jacob’s Well: The Birth of a Contemporary Ritual Murder Narrative
By: David Gurevich, Yisca Harani
Abstract: In 1979, the Orthodox monk Philoumenos Hasapis was violently murdered in Jacob’s Well Church in Nablus. His death was described as a ritual murder performed by a fanatical Jewish-Israeli group. Philoumenos was later sanctified by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The story gained publicity among Orthodox Christian communities around the world and was accredited by various NGOs and scholars. However, the factual basis of the event dismissed any ritualistic motives or collective accusations for the murder. The development patterns of the popular narrative are assessed against the backdrop of similar accusations levied against medieval Jewish communities in Europe, as well as contemporary framing of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in the media. The conclusions suggest reasons for the wide publicity that the narrative received, based on the cultural context of its target audience, the interests of the Orthodox Church, and the role of political actors involved.
William James in the Holy Land: Religious Experience and Secular-Believer Jewish Women in Israel
By: Hagar Lahav
Abstract: The article attempts to broaden our understanding of faith and belief (Hebrew: emuna) in non-religious spheres in Israel, defining Israeli Jewish secular-believers as self-identified secular (Hebrew: hiloni) people who believe in “whatever may be considered as the divine”. It analyzes the emuna discourse of secular-believer women, as manifested in their religious/spiritual feelings, experiences, and interpretations. Employing the theoretical lens provided by William James (1842–1910) and his contemporary successors, the analysis reveals the deep-seated role of the Western, Protestant-oriented understanding of religiosity/spirituality as an individual and therapeutic path in the emuna discourse of secular-believer women. Furthermore, it underscores the centrality of gender and Jewish symbolism in this discourse, thereby resisting the universalistic impulse characteristic of James and his followers and suggesting that social particularities originating in religion and gender (and perhaps also ethnicity, class, and the like) should be taken into account in analysis of non-religious discourses concerning emuna.
“Belfast Is Not Here”: The Israeli Press and the Good Friday Agreement
By: Aidan Beatty
Abstract: In April 1998, Catholic Nationalists and Protestant Unionists in Northern Ireland signed a historic peace agreement, The Good Friday Agreement. The article examines how the news of this peace agreement was received in Israel, which was dealing with its own issues of peace agreements and peace processes. Israeli press coverage of peace in Northern Ireland ranged from the jealous to the congratulatory, from a dovish desire to find lessons for Israel/Palestine in the example of Northern Ireland to a hawkish refusal to make the comparison. Shared vocabularies of violence, religiosity, and supposedly ancient conflicts also made regular appearances. In other words, Israeli journalists and political commentators discussed the events in distant Northern Ireland in terms of their own local realities and thus highlighted the tensions and fractures of Israeli self-perceptions in the years after the Oslo Accords and before the Second Intifada.
The Kibbutz and the Development Town: The Economic Dimension of Their Reciprocal Relations—The Case of the Hula Valley
By: Amir Goldstein
Abstract: The article examines the socio-economic interaction between the kibbutzim of the Upper Galilee and Kiryat Shmona during the first decade of the town’s existence. The main consideration behind the support of most Upper Galilee kibbutzim for the establishment of Kiryat Shmona was the urgent need for laborers to help dominate the new extensive areas belonging to Arab villages in the Hula Valley. The completion of the draining of the Hula swamp a decade later likewise left tens of thousands of dunams available for cultivation and an urgent need for workers.
The massive growth of the town, including eight thousand new immigrants from North Africa in the late 1950s, despite the socio-economic vacuum and the absence of economic infrastructure, suited the needs of the Regional Council. The dearth of opportunities in Kiryat Shmona caused heavy reliance on unstable seasonal agricultural work in the surrounding kibbutzim and public works that advanced mainly kibbutz infrastructures. Not only after the fact but even during the establishment of Kiryat Shmona and its development from a ma’abara into a town, there were clear warnings as to the social consequences of the growing gaps. The frustration and helplessness they engendered erupted in riots in May 1956.
Kibbutz Under Fire: Back to the Days of Sickle and Bayonet
By: Zeev Drory, Eyal Lewin, Eyal Ben-Ari
Abstract: For two months during the war in Gaza (summer of 2014) Hamas bombarded the kibbutzim in the vicinity using rockets and mortar shells, and exercising tunnel warfare. A century after its establishment dilemmas about kibbutz life similar to those arising during the decades of struggle were raised by members when they had to stand the test of survival under fire: with rockets and mortars landing should they stay or leave? Consequently, should those who left be referred to as “deserters” betraying the oath to stand bravely against all hazards or should they be tolerated and excused? To answer these questions, we review Israeli ideological connections of security and settlement in the Zionist Movement and the Kibbutz Movement and present quantitative and qualitative research about kibbutz members from the north and south of the country. We show that the fundamental values of the Kibbutz Movement, and particularly commitment to the collective and bearing the burden of national and societal missions, continue to exist despite growing individualism. The dual symbol of the sickle and the bayonet standing for a combination of security and settlement has not faded away. Rather it has changed its form. Going beyond this specific case study we call for a re-evaluation of the perception of conflict between seemingly contradictory orientations of contemporary kibbutz members and link our analysis to collectivist and individualist attitudes in current-day Israeli society and the kibbutz social environment in particular. We show the emergence of intertwined orientations that simultaneously promote each other in practice thus awarding significance to a new, more conditional, concept of sickle and bayonet.
The Fiscal Path to the State of Israel: Social Policy and State Building in the Yishuv during the Mandate
By: Michal Koreh, Daniel Béland
Abstract: Social policy and state building have long been central themes in the study of Israeli history. By shifting the focus from the spending side of social programs to their revenue side (dues and contributions), the article explores the fiscal dimension that connected social policy with state building in the Israeli pre-state period, 1920–48 (the Yishuv Jewish-Zionist settlement). The findings show that social programs served the broader agenda of a state-in-the-making, not just through its allocative functions (providing health services and basic income), but also through creating the domestic fiscal capacity necessary to its emergence. This account calls for some important revisions in the understanding of key issues in the political economy of the Yishuv.
What is Israeli in Israeli Art?: A Psychoanalytic Solution
By: Efrat Biberman
Abstract: In what sense can works of art constitute a community? How can an artist’s particular subject position participate in a social connection established by art? Taking issue with current claims that community precedes works of art and determines them ideologically, the article argues that a community is what might be generated by works of art and the subject position behind them. Since my argument revolves around the tension between the social and subjective aspects of works of art, the article begins by returning to two major articulations of the decline of the subjective in Western art. It then examines two canonical essays about Israeli art that embody the tension between subjectivity and the constitution of a community. The solution I offer is based on Freud’s notion of social bonds and their relation to the unconscious.
Journal of Arabic Literature (Volume 48, Issue 2):
The Political Darwīsh: “… In Defense of Little Differences”
By: Abdul-Rahim al-Shaikh
Abstract: Maḥmūd Darwīsh spent his life as a poet, a public intellectual, and a politician working “in defense of little differences,” and he is often quoted by Palestinian compatriots to explain their seemingly inexplicable history. After the Nakbah of 1948—the rules of engagement in flux, and Palestinians subject to harsh colonial conditions—Eden, Troy, al-Andalus, and Exodus became not only terrains of metaphor and political rhetoric in Darwīsh’s poetic lexica, but also fleeting heterotopias, heavily employed in his public intellectualism in constructing the phraseme of “little differences.” This article is not a critical reading of Darwīsh’s poetry but rather of his prose texts, and argues that the would-be dichotomy between aesthetics and politics was mediated by Darwīsh through the “little differences” between the roles of poetry and prose in defending national and universal causes; and the “little differences” that make up Palestine’s relation to myth and history. Triumph and defeat come to mean through Troy as a metaphor for Palestine, the fall of al-Andalus standing in for Palestine’s fall to Euro-Zionist colonial projects, the location of the Palestinian ever on the periphery of modern Jewish ethics, ever re-enacting Biblical scenes. Reading the polemics of such cultural landscapes and political geographies, this article maps Darwīsh’s vision for justice in historic Palestine and its diaspora.
Revolt in the Novel: Muḥammad Muṣṭafā Ghandūr’s Thaʾr al-damm (Blood Revenge) and the 1936-1939 Rebellion in Palestine
By: Pasquale Macaluso
Abstract: Contrary to the inveterate opinion of most scholars, a Palestinian author actually dealt with political issues before the Nakbah in the novel Thaʾr al-damm (Blood Revenge). Published in Damascus in 1939 by Muḥammad Muṣṭafā Ghandūr from Acre, this work of fiction remained in oblivion for decades because the French Mandate authorities confiscated most of its copies soon after publication. It narrates the story of a young physician who forms an armed band to avenge the rape of his younger sister by British soldiers during the 1936-1939 uprising in Palestine; the woman, disguised as a man, joins the rebels and eventually dies in a fight.Through the symbolism behind the retaliation for the maiden’s rape, Thaʾr al-damm provides a literary interpretation of the Palestinians’ shift to organized insurgency against the British Mandate in the late 1930s. By pivoting the plot around the tropes of injury and revenge, Ghandūr translated the feelings of humiliation and threat, and the consequent quest for revenge and liberation shared by many Palestinians into a novel. The action of this story takes place in the Palestinian countryside, in a village community portrayed as a spotless model of national solidarity and harmoniously merged with its environment. Ghandūr sketches a protagonist who exemplifies the theme of the political radicalization of modern-educated youth and argues for the leading role that they should assume in the struggle, while the only female character illustrates village women’s actual involvement in the revolt.
Out of Time: Jabrā Ibrāhīm Jabrā and the Politics of Palestinian Exile
By: Asma al-Naser
Abstract: This article analyses Jabrā Ibrāhīm Jabrā’s representations of Palestinian exile by focusing on his 1970 novel, al-Safīnah (The Ship, 1985). Critics have argued over whether Jabrā adequately connects his characters to “reality” on land. By attending to the Palestinian character Wadīʿ’s narrative in the novel, I argue that it is through this retreat from “reality,” or from realistic representations of Wadīʿ’s life in Palestine, that the novel shapes Palestinian exile as a dislocation in both time and space. Dream-like memories and utopic fantasies of return mirror the structure of that other fantasy, of returning in historico-political time. Thus the novel signals the time-space of Palestinian exile as both a separation from the historical land of Palestine, and an exile in history: an alienation not only from Palestine as a geographical area, but also from Palestine before the catastrophe of the Nakbah.
The Grandchildren of Yūnis: Palestinian Protest Camps, Infiltration, and Ilyās Khūrī’s Bāb al-shams
By: Drew Paul
Abstract: In January 2013, Palestinian activists set up a camp on Israeli-occupied land in the West Bank to protest Israeli settlement plans. They named their village “Bāb al-shams,” or “Gate of the Sun,” after Ilyās Khūrī’s novel by the same name that chronicles the Palestinian refugee experience from the beginning of the conflict to the present. A subsequent protest camp, called “Aḥfād Yūnis” or “the Grandchildren of Yūnis,” positioned the protesters as the heirs to the struggle waged by the novel’s hero, Yūnis, an aging Palestinian freedom fighter who has fallen into a coma. They drew upon the novel’s narrative and characters to create videos, images, and songs in support of their protest. This article uses this moment of interaction between literature and politics to consider how the protesters’ invocation of the novel complicates the relationship between literature, memory, and political activism. Just as the novel critiques an overreliance on certain forms of memory of Palestine, the protesters use the novel’s narrative to move beyond memory as a primary mode of articulating Palestinian political aims in the present. They seek a mode of engaging with the past that is not bound by the fragmented and unreliable recollections of earlier generations, but rather one that is dynamic and constituted through acts of infiltration and movement.
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 13, Issue 2):
Beyond Islamic versus Secular Framing: A Critical Analysis of Reproductive Rights Debates in Turkey
By: Ana Frank, Ayşe Betül Çelik
Abstract: Reproductive rights are shaped by different political ideologies and remain a hotly contested policy issue in most parts of the world. In Turkey the disputes concerning these rights have grown since 2002, when a conservative government assumed power. Analyzing how both governmental and civil society actors have discussed and framed reproductive policies primarily in reference to religion since the ascension of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party; AKP), this article focuses on debates that took place in 2012 about abortion and caesarean birth. The critical discourse and frame analysis, based on online speeches and media articles of these actors from November 2002 through 2014, reveal a remarkable diversity both in the interpretation of Islamic teachings and in a group of actors with similar ideological orientation. The article concludes by arguing for the need to move beyond the Islamic versus secular divide and to denaturalize and dehomogenize the role of religion in the public sphere.
Threats to Public Order and Health: Mobile Men as Syphilis Vectors in Late Ottoman Medical Discourse and Practice
By: Seçil Yılmaz
Abstract: Late Ottoman physicians used medical advice literature to impact syphilis transmission and treatment by cultivating men’s rather than women’s hygiene, self-care, and sexual practices. Soldiers and migrant workers were understood to be the main vectors of syphilis beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Efforts to control the disease were complicated by a lack of effective treatment until the 1910s, inadequate investment in health care, disparate agendas at the provincial and imperial level, and resistance to treatment by men who feared loss of status and jobs. Transmission intensified during World War I. By the war’s end attempts to regulate and cultivate syphilitic men aligned with the loss of Ottoman control over territory and population and new anxieties concerned with establishing a new state built on “proper” healthy marital reproduction. Sources examined include regulations, medical advice literature, and encounters between syphilitic men and medical authorities captured in archival sources.
Class and Habitus in the Formation of Gay Identities, Masculinities, and Respectability in Turkey
By: Haktan Ural, Fatma Umut Beşpınar
Abstract: This article examines how gay men engage with masculine respectability in urban Turkey. Our analysis of twenty-four in-depth interviews in Ankara shows that gay men’s self-presentation generally conforms to the expectations of masculine appearance and behavior in their class-based social circles. Thus we argue that social class and habitus are important for the norms of masculine respectability with a marked difference between lower-class/traditional middle-class and professional middle-class milieus. While family-dependent gay men in the lower class and traditional middle class often conform to hegemonic masculinity through their “family guy” performances and limit their sexual desires, professional middle-class gay men mobilize their social, economic, and cultural capital to carve out a gay life where they can perform a “sophisticated” gay identity and participate in a gay community, albeit in certain permitted domains.
Go Underground, Young Women: Writing Selves in Miral al-Tahawy’s The Tent
By: Diya Abdo
Abstract: Readings of the Egyptian writer Miral al-Tahawy’s first novel, al-Khibaʾ (1996), typically view it as autobiographical, casting its first-person narrator Fatima as the author’s oppressed double. Equally dismissive, nonautobiographical readings cast her as passive “madwoman.” This article argues that an autobiographical reading attentive to Fatima’s style, language, and technique reveals her to be al-Tahawy’s dramatized interpretation of her writing self and its aspirational potential. The novel demands such a reading because of its overt modeling of autobiographical agential creation by Fatima, who creates her own authorial double, Zahwa. Neither submissive madwoman nor her creator’s wretched double, Fatima adopts strategies that offer us a guide to the necessary (if risky) creative methods of the woman “desert writer.” These methods rely on deep-diving into text and subtext (symbolized by Zahwa’s underground world), where imagination and code can resist oppression, escape censoring, interrogate the sacred, excavate sources of power, subvert the normative, and evade Western co-optation.
Performers or Prostitutes?: Artistes during the French Mandate over Syria and Lebanon, 1921–1946
By: Camila Pastor de Maria Campos
Abstract: Analyzing memoirs from the Arab diaspora and Mashriq, colonial archives, interviews, League of Nations reports, and mandate legal literature, this article tracks the circulation and regulation of mobile women engaging in performance and sex work in French Mandate Syria and Lebanon (1921–46). The French metropolitan system of regulated prostitution was imported yet transformed in the mandate region as women performers were sorted into legitimate, if morally suspect, foreign artistes and autochthonous performers defined as prostitutes by decrees and codes. Regional and transnational mobility and the institutionalization of borders by colonial administrations destabilized their own distinctions between foreign and autochthonous, however. Women used these contradictions, overlapping legal frameworks, and artistry to continue to work and limit the extraction of their resources by a variety of institutional actors who nevertheless expected sexual and entertainment services to be afforded to foreign and local men.
Queer Visual Excavations: Akram Zaatari, Hashem El Madani, and the Reframing of History in Lebanon
By: Gayatri Gopinath
Entering and Remaking Spaces: Young Palestinian Feminists in Jerusalem
By: Frances S. Hasso
Journal of Palestine Studies (Volume 46, Issue 4)
Bedouin Sumud and the Struggle for Education
By: Michal Rotem, Neve Gordon
Abstract: The struggle between Zionists and Palestinian Bedouin over land in the Negev/Naqab has lasted at least a century. Notwithstanding the state’s continuing efforts to concentrate the Bedouin population within a small swath of land, scholars have documented how the Bedouin have adopted their own means of resistance, including different practices of sumud. In this paper we maintain, however, that by focusing on planning policies and the spatio-legal mechanisms deployed by the state to expropriate Bedouin land, one overlooks additional technologies and processes that have had a significant impact on the social production of space in the Negev. One such site is the struggle over the right to education, which, as we show, is intricately tied to the organization of space and the population inhabiting that space. We illustrate how the right to education has been utilized as an instrument of tacit displacement deployed to relocate and concentrate the Bedouin population in planned governmental towns. Simultaneously, however, we show how Bedouin activists have continuously invoked the right to education, using it as a tool for reinforcing their sumud. The struggle for education in the Israeli Negev is, in other words, an integral part of the struggle for and over land.
Olive Cultivation in the Galilee, 1948–1955: Hegemony and Resistance
By: Jeffrey D. Reger
Abstract: Drawing on Arabic, English, and Hebrew language sources from the British and Israeli archives, this article seeks to bridge the catastrophic rupture of 1948 to the early 1950s and to trace the changing relationship between ordinary Palestinian olive cultivators in the Galilee and the newly established Israeli state. In contrast with studies that center on the continued expulsion of Palestinians and extension of control over land by the state and state-supported actors in the aftermath of the Nakba, this study examines those Palestinians who stayed on their land and how they responded to Israeli agricultural and food control policies that they saw as discriminatory to the point of being existential threats. Beyond analysis of Israeli state policy toward olive growers and olive oil producers, this article brings in rare Palestinian voices from the time, highlighting examples of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli state’s practices of confiscation and discrimination.
Gendered Violence in Israeli Detention
By: Sahar Francis
Abstract: Women have been instrumental to the Palestinian liberation struggle from its inception, and the role they have played in political, civil, and armed resistance has been as critical, if not as visible, as that of their male counterparts. In addition to experiencing the same forms of repression as men, be it arrest, indefinite detention, or incarceration, Palestinian women have also been subjected to sexual violence and other gendered forms of coercion at the hands of the Israeli occupation regime. Drawing on testimonies from former and current female prisoners, this paper details Israel’s incarceration policies and examines their consequences for Palestinian women and their families. It argues that Israel uses the incarceration of women as a weapon to undermine Palestinian resistance and to fracture traditionally cohesive social relations; and more specifically, that the prison authorities subject female prisoners to sexual and gender-based violence as a psychological weapon to break them and, by extension, their children.
The Idolatry of Force: How Israel Embraced Targeted Killing
By: Paul Gaston Aaron
Abstract: Not until the Second Intifada did assassination emerge as an explicit, legally codified, and publicly announced doctrine of so-called targeted killing in Israel. This study, the first of a two-part series, explores the doctrine’s historical roots and ideological lineage and tracks its rise under the premiership of Ariel Sharon. Targeted killing became institutionalized not just to reduce direct and imminent threats against Israelis but also to mobilize electoral support, fieldtest weapons and tactics, and eliminate key figures in order to sow chaos and stunt the development of an effective Palestinian national movement. The study frames the analysis within a wider meditation on Israel’s idolatry of force. As much symbolic performance as military technique, targeted killing reenacts and ritualizes Palestinian humiliation and helplessness in the face of the Zionist state’s irresistible power, making this dynamic appear a fact of life, ordained and immutable.
A Newer Hamas? The Revised Chapter
By: Khaled Hroub
Abstract: On 1 May 2017, Hamas released its “Document of General Principles and Policies” following years of periodic speculation that the movement was working on a new political platform. Heralded by some as a significant milestone in Hamas’s political thought and practice, the document reiterates longstanding positions but also lays out some new ones. Given the timing of its release, as well as its contents and possible implications, the document could be considered Hamas’s new charter: it details the organization’s views on the struggle against “the Zionist project” and Israel and outlines its strategies to counter that project. This essay aims to provide a fine-grained analysis of the substance, context, and ramifications of the recently released document. The discussion starts with an overview highlighting aspects of the document that could be considered departures from Hamas’s original 1988 charter, and pointing to changes in the movement’s discourse, both in form and substance. A contextual analysis then probes the regional, international, and internal impetuses behind the issuance of the document. Finally, the discussion concludes with a look at the possible implications for the movement itself, as well as for the Palestinians and for Israel.
Mediterranean Politics (Volume 22, Issue 2):
Political mistrust in southern Europe since the Great Recession
By: Diego Muro, Guillem Vidal
Abstract: The political effects of the Great Recession on southern Europe were substantial. The rapid economic deterioration of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain from 2008 onwards was accompanied by an increase in citizens’ dissatisfaction towards national political institutions. The sources of political mistrust in the southern periphery were of a political and economic nature. Using quantitative data from EU member states from 2000 to 2015, this paper evaluates the suitability of competing theories in explaining this shift in political attitudes in southern European countries. It first hypothesizes that political mistrust is explained by citizens’ rationalist evaluations of changing macroeconomic performance. It also hypothesizes that political mistrust changes according to institutional performance. The paper argues that economic crises act as an external shock that places politics, politicians and institutions in the spotlight as a result of citizens’ deteriorating performance of the economy. The findings suggest that unemployment, public debt and political corruption are key variables in understanding short-term changes in political mistrust.
Blurring the borders between old and new social movements: the M15 movement and the radical unions in Spain
By: Beltran Roca, Iban Diaz-Parra
Abstract: This article analyses the relationships between the M15 movement and radical labour organizations in Spain. Based on semi-structured interviews and document analysis, it concludes that to the extent that the economic crisis has evolved, the relations between the M15 and the trade unions have moved from mistrust to convergence. This is especially evident in the case of radical trade unionism with which the M15 shares several features. Although the M15 has been studied as an example of a ‘new social movement’, recent changes suggest certain shifts in relation to the type of activated subject and to the motivating factors for collective action. One of the consequences of this is the closeness to the institutions of the workers’ movement, which blurs the borders between old and new social movements.
Relations with North Africa: a new priority in Portuguese bilateral foreign policy?
By: Maria do Céu Pinto Arena
Abstract: Portugal has remained quite distant from coastal North African states for many centuries. Having recently emerged as a prominent player across North Africa, Portugal’s current relationship with the Maghreb countries is unprecedented in its history. Lisbon has invested in building the Maghreb axis as a ‘new priority’ in the architecture of Portugal’s bilateral foreign policy. This policy already took off, and is now beyond the rhetorical plan, where it stood for many years. Portugal and its partner countries across the Mediterranean have reiterated their willingness to keep up with the positive momentum, especially from the past 10 years, deepening bilateral political dialogue and bolstering trade relations. This article puts Portuguese relations with North Africa into context and offers an up-to-date analysis on recent (and ongoing) developments in Luso‒Maghreb relations.
The Israeli collective memory and the Masada Syndrome: a political instrument to counter the EU funding of Israeli non-governmental human rights organizations
By: Guy Harpaz, Elisha Jacobsen
Abstract: The EU’s practice of funding Israeli non-governmental human rights organizations (hereinafter ‘HRNGOs’) has in recent years encountered a counter-strategy, pursued by certain Israeli NGOs and members of the Israeli government, media and academia. This counter-strategy has succeeded in discrediting the HRNGOs and the EU and rendering their mutual collaboration less effective. The purpose of this article is to contextualize the counter-strategy within the sphere of Israel’s collective memory. The article analyses the manner in which certain politicians and various members of the Israeli society (agents of memory), who themselves are the product of the evolving Israeli collective memory and identity (structure), attempt to draw on Israel’s collective memory/structure in order to advance their particular political agenda.
Major rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on Cyprus: the impact of politics
By: Füsun Türkmen, Emre Öktem
Abstract: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has so far issued six major judgments on Cyprus concerning the ongoing consequences of Turkey’s military intervention of 1974. Starting with the Loizidou case (1995, 1996), the rulings of the court on Cyprus v. Turkey (2001), Demades v. Turkey (2003), Eugenia Michaelidou v. Turkey (2003), Xenides-Arestis v. Turkey (2005), and Demopulos and others v. Turkey (2011) have mostly been criticized for their ‘politicized’ legal content, including by some of the judges of the ECtHR itself, through their dissenting opinions. This article attempts to demonstrate the – not always negative ‒ impact of specific political developments on the court’s rulings as well as on the attitudes of the states parties before the court, as a result of this interaction.
Still a Beacon of Human Rights? Considerations on the EU Response to the Refugee Crisis in the Mediterranean
By: Roxana Barbulescu
Abstract: The European Union is a political union of democracies which protects human rights and presents itself as a beacon of human rights on the global scene. This Profile reviews the measures the EU has introduced in response to the crisis and highlights the problems they pose from a human rights perspective. Overall, a set of five measures were adopted: (1) improving search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean and the Aegean in order to prevent loss of human lives at sea; (2) initiating military intervention to tackle networks of smugglers; (3) introducing resettlement and relocation quotas to alleviate pressure on the EU member states which serve as entry points (Italy, Greece and Hungary) and from the countries neighbouring Syria (primarily Turkey); (4) creating a common list of safe countries to facilitate and speed up the return of failed asylum seekers and undocumented migrants; and finally (5) strengthening cooperation with countries of origin and transit to readmit migrants and to tighten border controls. Whether the EU will be able to respond to the unfolding crisis by providing international protection to those in need while simultaneously securing its external borders will be a yardstick by which to judge its human rights commitment.
Middle East Journal (Volume 71, Issue 3):
Territory, Sovereignty, and New Statehood in the Middle East and North Africa
By: Ariel I. Ahram
Abstract: This article examines the interaction between territory, sovereignty, and statehood in the Middle East and North Africa. Various groups have aspired — and have failed — to become states since the contemporary regional system’s inception after World War I. Since the 2011 uprisings, movements claiming territory and sovereignty have emerged or become more viable throughout the region, including the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Rojava, Cyrenaica, Azawad, and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Each poses different challenges to the regional system and holds out different hopes for rectifying historical missteps in state-building.
‘Sectarianism’ and Its Discontents in the Study of the Middle East
By: Fanar Haddad
Abstract: This article offers a critical examination of the vocabulary associated with the study of ‘sectarianism’ in the Middle East. It surveys Arabic- and English-language works on ‘sectarianism’ to illustrate how the term’s lack of definition has allowed it to be used in contradictory ways that render it, not simply meaningless, but distortive to our understanding of the region. In addition, the term ‘sectarianism’, with its inescapably negative connotations, has been used as a tool to neutralize political dissent and stigmatize people’s religious identity and otherwise legitimate acts of expression and mobilization.
Identity and the Ba‘th Regime’s Campaign against Kurdish Rebels in Northern Iraq
By: Yaniv Voller
Abstract: Throughout its existence, the Iraqi Ba‘thist regime engaged in a war against Kurdish insurgents. Declassified Ba‘th Party documents reveal that beyond military means, Baghdad saw identity as a useful resource in suppressing the uprising. The documents tell of a sophisticated divide-and-rule strategy, using bureaucracy, law, and militia recruitment to manipulate the various minority communities in northern Iraq against the rebels and each other. Drawing on these documents, this article provides a detailed analysis of this strategy.
Human Rights and Wrongs in Iran’s Drug Diplomacy with Europe
By: Janne Bjerre Christensen
Abstract: Europe has a strong interest in and a history of assisting Iran in controlling inflows of drugs from Afghanistan. But due to Iran’s increasing use of the death penalty in drug trafficking cases, Europe has terminated its cooperation. Based on interviews with Iranian policy-makers and representatives of both human rights organizations and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), this article presents Denmark’s withdrawal of drug control funding in 2013 as a case study, analyzing the dilemmas and trajectories of joint Iranian-European drug diplomacy and the prospects for reengagement following the nuclear agreement.
Palestinian Refugee Visits to Their Former Homes
By: Menachem Klein
Abstract: This article compares Palestinian refugees and exiles’ written accounts of their visits to their places of origin in present-day Israel. The discussion is based on texts published by educated, upper-middle-class Palestinians living in the diaspora or in the West Bank, who made their visits as private citizens. After surveying the existing literature on refugee visits their homes in other post-conflict zones, the article discusses an aspect of Palestinian visits that previous studies have left untouched: the encounter between visitors and present occupants.
Toward a Comprehensive Solution? Yemen’s Two-Year Peace Process
By: Robert Forster
Middle East Policy (Volume 24, Issue 2):
Defining Christian Palestinianism: Words Matter
By: Hans Morten Haugen
Mideast Geopolitics: The Struggle for a New Order
By: Bülent Aras, Emirhan Yorulmazlar
The South Caucasus: Turmoil in the Shadow of Russo-American Relations
By: Emil Aslan Souleimanov
Trump, Turkey and the Kurds
By: Michael M. Gunter
Iran’s Normalization Project: Custodians and Spoilers
By: Farhad Rezaei
The Gulf and the Great Powers: Evolving Dynamics
By: Mark N. Katz
Well-Being Before the Arab Spring: Objective vs. Subjective Measurements
By: Tamer ElGindi
Assistance Funding to Syria: For Development or Strife?
By: Ammar Kourany, Martha Myers
Islamic State in North Africa: Still There, Struggling to Expand
By: Lisa Watanabe
Iran and Syria: An Enduring Axis
By: Edward Wastnidge
Middle East Quarterly (Volume 24, Issue 3):
An Inevitable Conflict: The Six-Day War
By: Efraim Karsh
This Time, the Loser Writes History: The Six-Day War
By: Gabriel Glickman
Israel’s Costs vs. Its Benefits: The Six-Day War
By: Efraim Inbar
NGO Links to Middle East Terror
By: Gerald M. Steinberg, Joshua Bacon