British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 44, Issues 1 & 2)
“Attitudes towards culture in the new home: self-initiated expatriate academics in Turkey”
By: Sumeyra Alpaslan Danisman
Abstract: The main question of this paper is ‘What are the attitudes of self-initiated expatriate academics towards their host culture?’ This question was explored in terms of whether the expatriates view themselves as separate from or part of the new cultural environment. The question was examined empirically with a qualitatively structured study.. Eighteen participants from 13 countries who are expatriate academics living and working in Turkey were interviewed, and thematic analysis was used to interpret the qualitative data. Communication, religion, food culture, daily life, social relations and structure are the main cultural themes that directly influence the expatriates. The results reveal that participants’ attitude towards each cultural issue can be categorized as being adjusted, exploring or missing home. Self-initiated expatriate academics who feel at home, those who learn new things from the host culture and those who have difficulties, feel themselves as a native, an explorer or a stranger, respectively.
“Turkish foreign policy as an anomaly: revisionism and irredentism through diplomacy in the 1930s”
By: Seckin Baris Gulmez
Abstract: This article discusses why Turkey persisted in diplomacy in the pursuit of a proactive foreign policy during the 1930s while use of force and unilateral action were the popular alternatives. Accordingly, first, the prevailing literature will be examined outlining five primary foreign policy practices of the time, namely, revisionism, irredentism, bandwagoning, appeasement and isolationism. The article will then discuss the foreign policy preference of Turkey which stands as an anomaly in comparison to its contemporaries, focusing on two main cases: Turkey’s reacquisition of the Straits and the accession of Alexandretta. After analysing the underlying factors behind Turkey’s persistent attachment to multilateral and bilateral diplomacy, the article will conclude by applying the term ‘Holder of Balance’ to Turkish foreign policy in the 1930s. Overall, it is argued that the Great Depression attributed a new role to Turkey, the holder of European balance, enabling partnership with both aggressors and appeasers and thus facilitating the settlement of disputes through diplomacy.
“Abbasid Panegyric: Badīʿ Poetry and the Invention of the Arab Golden Age”
By: Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych
Abstract: This study argues that the third AH/ninth CE century panegyrists (praise poets) of the Abbasid caliphal court at Baghdad (and briefly at Samarra) were responsible for constructing the image of a Golden Age of Arab-Islamic dominion that was subsequently adopted by the poets and thinkers of the Nahḍa or ‘Arab Awakening’ of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Challenged to create a poetry that would serve as the linguistic correlative of the astounding and unprecedented might and dominion of the rulers of the Arab-Islamic state, the Abbasid Modernist Poets (al-shuʿarāʾ al-muḥdathūn) invented a powerfully and radically innovative poetic style, termed badīʿ. The panegyric odes of poets such as Abū Tammām and al-Buḥturī were canonized so as to promote a vision of an Arab-Islamic Golden Age and, further, to serve as models for the expression of Arab-Islamic hegemony and the conferral and contestation of legitimate authority. In the Nahḍa of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Neo-Classical poets such as Aḥmad Shawqī recouped the Abbasid master poets to both retroject and project a vision of an Arab-Islamic ‘Enlightenment’. Finally, this study examines the fraught relationship of the post-Naksa (1967) Arab poet, as exemplified in the modern Yemeni poet ʿAbd Allāh al-Baradūnī, with the poets and poetry of the Golden Age.
“The Patterns of Syrian Uprising: Comparing Hama in 1980–1982 and Homs in 2011”
By: Dara Conduit
Abstract: Economic grievances that marginalized rural citizens and eroded the Syrian government’s political base are widely considered to have sparked the 2011 uprising. Although the country’s 1980–1982 protests were also blamed on economic factors, commentators to date have largely resisted comparing the events. This article draws parallels between Hama in the lead-up to 1980–1982 and Homs pre-2011, arguing that while there are differences between the uprisings—including the socioeconomic group involved—the root causes of grievance were remarkably similar. Both uprisings followed a redrawing of Syria’s social contract that marginalized a group that had previously had a stake in the Syrian state. In both cases, a new underclass was formed that became the backbone of the political unrest. Although economic factors cannot explain the 2011 uprising in its entirety, this article argues that some of the seed dynamics in 2011 were remarkably similar to 1980–1982.
“The 1934 anti-Jewish Thrace riots: the Jewish exodus of Thrace through the lens of nationalism and collective violence”
By: Banu Eligür
Abstract: This article analyses the causes and the dynamic process of production of the 1934 anti-Jewish Thrace riots. The article, based on the US State Department Records, British Documents on Foreign Affairs and the Turkish Republic’s Prime Ministry Republican Archives as well as Turkish, US and British newspapers, argues that the 1934 anti-Jewish Thrace riots were not spontaneous occurrences caused by over-excited masses, but instead planned actions by some local state elite and Republican People’s Party (RPP) local officials as well as anti-Semitic Turkish ultra-nationalists. The article argues that it was not popular anti-Semitism, but the Turkish state establishment’s security concerns vis-à-vis the perceived Italian and Bulgarian threat that resulted in the riots. The local state elite and RPP local officials, who were uneasy about the economically well-off Jews, acted as ethno-nationalist entrepreneurs by allowing the ultra-nationalists to operate in the riot-prone Thrace, while the rioters mainly participated in the collective violence to receive economic gains as a result of the expulsion of the Jews.
“The meanings of oriental masquerade in T.E. Lawrence’s Arabian ventures”
By: Feras Alkabani
Abstract: This article explores the changing trajectory of T.E. Lawrence’s interaction with the Arab East on the eve of modernity. It traces his pre-First World War scholarly interest in Levantine antiquities (his archaeological expeditions in Syria), through to his subsequent military engagement in the Arab Revolt (1916–1918). An analysis of Lawrence’s adoption of various forms of Middle-Eastern attire provides a narrative of the events that led to his metamorphosis from a passive scholar into an active soldier. The article examines the homoerotic strands in Lawrence’s assumption of Oriental disguise and highlights its metaphorical significance vis-à-vis the political marriage of British imperial interests and Arab nationalist ambitions in the Arab campaign. The article finally draws on the implications of the Anglo–Arab alliance and its impact on changing the region and altering the image of the ‘Unchanging East’.
“Where is the State of Israel? Testimonies from IDF Nachal soldiers on Israel’s territorial integrity”
By: Hanne Eggen Røislien
Abstract: The present article aims to uncover how and where combatants in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) draw the boundaries of the State of Israel. The territorial integrity of Israel remains unsettled and IDF’s combatants cannot look merely towards fixed territorial borders and legal agreements when drawing the demarcation lines between Israel and its neighbours. The article’s empirical basis is a longitudinal study of 34 soldiers in the IDF’s 50th Battalion in the Nachal Infantry Brigade in the period 2006–2010, and explores how this group ‘mapped’ the State of Israel during their military service. The article shows how the combatants operated in a strategic universe where the boundaries of Israel’s territorial integrity were drawn by stressing the combatants’ sense of attachment to certain areas as Israeli Jews; not merely as Israeli citizens. This became particularly clear and overt in the case of the West Bank, which they viewed as a patchwork of Israeli and Palestinian territories.
“Political parties in MENA: their functions and development”
By: Raymond A. Hinnebusch
Abstract: This article provides an overview of the development of parties and party systems in the MENA region from early oligarchic pluralism to the mass single-party systems of the populist era and the limited multi-party experiments of the 1990s era of political liberalization. The survey shows how parties develop in parallel with the deepening of politicization and become nearly indispensable adjuncts in the construction of political order. The article then examines parties in the post-2010 period, with case studies of Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia demonstrating how very different configurations of party development dramatically impact on regime trajectories, ranging from democratization to hybrid regimes.
“Protesting gender discrimination from within: women’s political representation on behalf of Islamic parties”
By: Mona Tajali
Abstract: In recent decades, Islamic political movements, and their subsequent political parties, have been increasingly recruiting and nominating women to high-level decision-making positions despite the fact that the ideology they espouse often acts to dissuade women from assuming positions of political leadership. My ethnographic research on religious women’s activism in Iran and Turkey helps explain this unexpected trend by shedding light onto the role of Islamic party women in challenging the gender discriminatory attitudes and behaviours of their male party leaders. In particular, I highlight the role that a number of high-ranking Islamic party women with close ties to the ruling elites played in pressuring their male party leaders to address women’s political underrepresentation in formal politics. Women’s close ties to the ruling elites consisted of formal ties with key Islamic leaders that evolved thanks to women’s long-term devotion to the Islamic movement or learning at Islamic seminaries. I demonstrate that such close ties to the leaders, as well as the presence of a public discourse in favour of women’s increased access to politics, enabled influential Islamic women to leverage a form of ‘internal criticism’ as an important strategy to enhance women’s political rights and status from within the Islamic movements.
“‘We wander in your footsteps’—reciprocity and contractility in Lebanese personality-centred parties”
By: Christian Thuselt
Abstract: This contribution questions the widespread assumption of Lebanese parties being mere ‘instruments’ in their leaders’ hands by asking what partisans see through their chairmen. It describes an informal social contract between partisans and leaders, outlining reciprocity in interpreting the ‘cause’, being symbolized by the latter. The core of this contract is made up by a particular interpretation of a global normativity of the modern nation-state and reciprocity. Whereas the latter might be deeply felt, it often lacks institutionalized control within the party. Finally, the contribution highlights some noticeable restrictions of this informal contractility.
“The party, the Gama’a and the Tanzim: the organizational dynamics of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s post-2011 failure”
By: Marie Vannetzel
Abstract: In April 2011, the Egyptian Muslim Brothers (MB) founded the first political party in their 83-year-long history, known as the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). Yet the party remained under the control of its parent organization—the Gama’a (literally the ‘community’)—and its internal apparatus, the Tanzim. While both had been shaped during decades of MB’s semi-clandestine existence as a banned-yet-tolerated group, these did not adapt to the changing socio-political configuration and have resisted the transition to fully overt activity. Through an analysis of the FJP’s uneasy creation and with a grounding of extensive empirical research, this article argues that the party’s development was to a certain extent hampered by those pre-existing organizational structures. Organizational crystallization prevented the party from conforming to the emerging rules of the political field then under construction. Instead, the Gama’a’s undefined nature and opaque pattern of regulation were replicated within the FJP’s structure. Thus, the article seeks to uncover a hitherto hidden aspect of in the MB’s post-2011 failure, one which is rooted in organizational dynamics.
“Party and governance in the Arab republics”
By: Joseph Sassoon
Abstract: By focusing on political memoirs as an important source, the article deals with the ruling party and governance in the Arab republics, whether they had a one-party system such as Iraq and Syria, or a multi-party system such as Egypt and Tunisia. However, one country among the republics, Libya, annulled political parties and parliament and created its own unique system of governance. Through memoirs of party members, parliamentary opponents, and ministers, the article analyses the substantial role of the ruling parties in perpetuating the regimes. While the triangular relationship between the leadership, the party, and the bureaucracy differed from one republic to another, the overall structure of governance did not vary widely, except in the case of Libya.
“Political Parties and Women’s Rights in Turkey”
By: Zehra F. Kabasakal Arat
Abstract: Political parties are important political actors, but they are seldom studied in relation to human rights. This article examines the human rights discourse of political parties in Turkey by focusing on women’s rights. The content analysis of party programmes issued by major political parties between 1923 and 2007 reveals significant differences and changes in parties’ approach to women, ranging from no mentioning of women to addressing women’s issues from a feminist perspective. Women’s rights and issues, once neglected practically by all political parties, have gained attention during the last few decades, largely due to women’s activism. While conservative, religious, and Turkish nationalist parties started to display a dualist approach that combines traditionalism with gender equality, social democrat, socialist, and pro-Kurdish parties increasingly employ feminist terminology and analysis.
“The historical emergence and transformation of the Moroccan political party field”
By: Khalil Dahbi
Abstract: This article offers a historical analysis of the emergence of the political party field in post-independence Morocco and makes the case for a bottom-up approach that pays close attention to actors’ cultural dispositions, capabilities and the constraints imposed upon them by emergent fields. It starts by briefly introducing the conceptual toolbox of Bourdieusian field theory, underscoring the analytical strengths of the concepts it includes. Drawing on a qualitative analysis of both primary and secondary sources, the article then deploys the aforementioned concepts to trace the historical processes that shaped the emergence of the Moroccan political party field. In doing so, this article suggests a novel approach to the study of political parties that emphasizes the importance of adopting a bottom-up perspective, and the need to go beyond mono-causal explanatory accounts.
“The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine during the First Intifada: From Opportunity to Marginalization (1987–1990)”
By: Francesco Saverio Leopardi
Abstract: In understanding the decline of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the analysis of its political agency allows the identification of a pattern of policy fluctuation that recurs throughout several critical phases of its trajectory. In this regard, the First Intifada is a case in point. The new geographical setting, the strong network of affiliated organizations and the more favourable balance of power with Fatah represented a major opportunity for the PFLP to revive its political initiative and increase its political weight. However, the PFLP was unable to grasp this opportunity due to its inconsistencies in confronting the main challenges posed by the Intifada, namely Fatah’s diplomatic agenda, the relations with the PFLP’s branch in the Territories, the fragmentation of the Palestinian Left and the rise of the Islamist movement. Resorting to a systematic study of the PFLP’s official publications and to interviews with former and current militants, this article identifies the pattern of policy fluctuation that transformed the First Intifada into a turning point in its weakening process. This pattern acquires further relevance since it illustrates the basic poles of tensions behind the fluctuation of the PFLP’s political conduct throughout the following decades.
Comparative Politics (Volume 49, Issues 2 & 3)
“Small Tribes, Big Gains: The Strategic Uses of Gender Quotas in the Middle East”
By: Sarah Sunn Bush, Eleanor Gao
Abstract: Why do some political actors nominate women more than others in the Muslim world? This article argues that certain social groups have an instrumental demand for female candidates because they believe such candidates will enhance their electoral chances in the wake of gender quotas’ adoption. Looking at Jordan, it hypothesizes that small tribes can make big gains by nominating women due to the design of the country’s reserved seat quota. This argument complements existing perspectives on women’s (under-)representation in the Muslim world, which emphasize the role of features of the culture, economy, or religion. The analysis of original data on Jordan’s local elections and tribes supports the argument. The article’s findings have implications for our understanding of women’s representation, tribal politics, and authoritarian elections.
“Ethnic Exclusion and Mobilization: The Kurdish Conflict in Turkey”
By: Güneş Murat Tezcür, Mehmet Gurses
Abstract: Why does ethnicity become politically salient and the basis of mobilization for some members of a disadvantaged group but not for others? This article suggests that members of a disadvantaged ethnic group are unlikely to support ethnic mobilization as long as they perceive the channels of personal mobility in the political system open. It builds upon an original dataset of biographical information of 2,952 governors, ministers, and judges in Turkey. The results show that support for Kurdish ethno-mobilization and recruitment into the Kurdish insurgency remain low in Kurdish localities with greater representation in the echelons of political power. This finding supports institutional approach to the study of ethnicity and demonstrates the importance of state recruitment patterns in shaping the political saliency of ethnic identity.
“’Conventional’ and ‘Virtual’ Civil Societies in Autocratic Regimes”
By: Mark R. Beissinger
Abstract: In recent years many non-democracies have witnessed the rapid growth of new social media that have, in a number of instances, become vehicles for civic activism, even in the presence of anemic “conventional” civil society association. Using evidence from Russia, Tunisia, Egypt, and Ukraine, this article explores the implications of “virtual” civil society for opposition politics in autocratic regimes. The rise of “virtual” civil society potentially presents autocratic regimes with new challenges for control over the streets. But a robust “virtual” civil society combined with a weak “conventional” civil society has a series of less positive consequences for oppositional politics, reinforcing weak political organization, breeding a false sense of representativeness, diluting collective identities within oppositions, and rendering mobilization over extended periods of time more difficult.
Comparative Studies in Society and History (Volume 59, Issues 1 & 2)
“Sources and Contextualizations: Comparing Eighteenth-Century North African and Western European Institutions”
By: Simona Cerutti, Isabelle Grangaud
Abstract: Our collaborative project originates in an attempt to articulate the intrinsic specificity of cases and contexts within a resolutely comparative approach. We focus particularly on what we believe to be the major limitation of comparison, namely the supposed need to rigidify the objects of comparison, to detach them from their contingent specificities and reduce cases to a set of data homogeneous enough to be compared. Our intent is to start a critical discussion regarding the hypothetical need to let go of specificity as the condition of comparison. With this in mind, we propose a comparative approach focused on sources rather than objects, and we consider them in terms of actions endowed with intentionality. The present study compares two institutions: the droit d’aubaine, and the Bayt al-mâl or Treasury, a traditional Islamic fiscal institution found in a number of Ottoman-era governments, whose prerogatives have typically been reduced to managing heirless estates and burying the poor. In theory, the aubaine and the Bayt al-mâl belong to distinct cultural and historical realms. Yet, as we demonstrate here, a careful analysis of the sources produced by each institution helps unpack these “cultural” constructions, produces new contexts in which both can be situated, and sheds light on the process of their construction and their amenability to comparison.
“Alexandria, 1898: Nodes, Networks, and Scales in Nineteenth-Century Egypt and the Mediterranean”
By: Lucia Carminati
Abstract: In October 1898, the Italian vice-consul in Alexandria charged a group of Italians with participating in an anarchist plot to attack German Emperor Wilhelm II during his planned tour through Egypt and Palestine. This collective arrest produced unexpected outcomes, left a trail of multi-lingual documents, and illuminated specific forms of late nineteenth-century Mediterranean migration. Anarchists were among those who frequently crossed borders and they were well aware of and connected to what was happening elsewhere: they sent letters, circulated manifestos, raised and transported money, and helped fugitive comrades. They maintained nodes of subversion and moved along circuits of solidarity. Similarly, diplomats of Europe, Cairo, Istanbul, and local consular officials operated across borders and cooperated to hunt anarchists down. By following people who were on the move on boats, in post offices, and in taverns, I make a methodological and historiographical argument. First, I examine the Mediterranean as a space of flows and show how the Maghreb/Mashreq divide in Middle Eastern history has concealed webs and connections. Because anarchists and authorities acted on multiple fronts simultaneously, so must scholarship of this part of the world take account of several histories at once. Second, I look beyond the micro-macro binary to emphasize the interconnections and mutual implications of the micro, the macro, and everything in between. I highlight competing, intersecting, and even contradictory trajectories of some of these anarchist migrants’ belonging. As the affair of the bombs unfolded, all of these contradictions and scales of analysis became visible at once.
“Determining Emotions and the Burdern of Proof in Investigative Comissions to Palestine”
By: Lori A. Allen
Abstract: The conflict in Palestine has been the subject of numerous international investigative commissions over the past century. These have been dispatched by governments to determine the causes of violent conflicts and how to resolve them. Commissions both produce and reflect political epistemologies, the social processes and categories by which proof and evidence are produced and mobilized in political claim-making. Using archival and ethnographic sources, my analysis focuses on three investigative commissions: the King-Crane (1919), Anglo-American (1946), and Mitchell (2001) commissions. They reveal how “reading affect” has been a diagnostic of political worthiness. Through these investigations, Western colonial agents and “the international community” have given Palestinians false hope that discourse and reason were the appropriate and effective mode of politics. Rather than simply reason, however, what each required was maintenance of an impossible balance between the rational and the emotional. This essay explores the ways that affect as a diagnostic of political worthiness has worked as a technology of rule in imperial orders, and has served as an unspoken legitimating mechanism of domination.
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (Volume 37, Issue 1)
“The Black Winter of 1860–61: War, Famine, and the Political Ecology of Disasters in Qajar Iran”
By: Ranin Kazemi
Abstract: This article focuses on one of the most serious cases of famine in Iran in the nineteenth century. Reading through a wide range of contemporary documents, Kazemi uses this episode as a case study to talk about the larger problem of subsistence crises and natural disasters in Iran and the Middle East in the nineteenth century. He contends that the causes of the 1860–61 famine were a series of interlocking issues that had affected the political economy of the Qajar state. The longer-term economic and political developments in the run-up to the crisis had an important role in setting up a broad context in which subsistence crises of this kind could occur frequently. Loss of transcontinental trade and territories, the decline of local industries, worsening trade deficits, the devaluation and scarcity of currency, and chronic imperial and state-building warfare in an increasingly globalized economy had led to the worsening fiscal crisis of the Iranian state and the rise of what was essentially new and predatory capital in the Qajar grain market. In such an atmosphere, people had become vulnerable more than ever before to natural and manmade disasters. Many, if not all, of the processes explained here were central in the making of disasters elsewhere in the Middle East. The factors that brought about these unfortunate episodes in the region were interconnected and had local, regional, and above all global dimensions.
“How War Shaped Egypt’s National Bread Loaf”
By: Eric Schewe
Abstract: This article examines the consolidation of a regime of government-subsidized wheat bread in Egypt during the Second World War, in tandem with the development of the Egyptian state of emergency and a military courts system. It investigates how landowner resistance and fertilizer shortages brought Egypt to the brink of famine in 1941, and how Anglo-Egyptian diplomacy negotiated a regime of mandatory government grain requisition. It draws on Egyptian news media, bureaucratic reports, and military court cases to show resistance to and the social effects of this policy, including the acceleration of income inequality in rural areas and a huge increase in wheat consumption in cities. The article argues the long-term success of this regime depended on both the improvement of surveillance and coercive technocracy mediated through the military courts and the naturalization of public attitudes toward consuming “mixed” bread and toward the black market and military courts themselves.
“Plastics and Agriculture in the Desert Frontier”
By: Marion Dixon
Abstract: Literature on the global agrifood system largely overlooks the role of reclamation of arid and semi-arid lands in the industrialization of horticulture (fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals) worldwide in the neoliberal period. Why has the development and expansion of industrial horticulture synchronized with “greening the desert” policies and narratives? Dixon’s article addresses this question with the concept of desert frontier, which is developed through a case study of industrial horticulture production in Egypt’s arid regions and through an analysis of the relations between nature and society. The desert frontier in Egypt demonstrates that the socioecological relations that constitute industrial horticulture have necessitated transformations in farm organization and on-farm practice toward an increasingly coercive and capital-intensive set of agritechnologies and protocols to manage the volatility of industrial agriculture (from monocultures, perpetual genetic erosion, cropping intensification, and so on). The movement of agroexport farms into arid regions has been part of these processes of biosecuritization. This analysis of the socioecological conditions of expanded commodity production within the global food system or corporate food regime problematizes reemerging “greening the desert” narratives that parade the latest greening technical feats as a solution to securing food production in a warming planet.
International Journal of Middle East Studies (Volume 49, Issues 1 & 2)
“The Egyptian Labor Corps: Workers, Peasants, and the State in World War I”
By: Kyle J. Anderson
Abstract: In this article, I detail the British imperial system of human resource mobilization that recruited workers and peasants from Egypt to serve in the Egyptian Labor Corps in World War I (1914–18). By reconstructing multiple iterations of this network and analyzing the ways that workers and peasants acted within its constraints, this article provides a case study in the relationship between the Anglo-Egyptian colonial state and rural society in Egypt. Rather than seeing these as two separate, autonomous, and mutually antagonistic entities, this history of Egyptian Labor Corps recruitment demonstrates their mutual interdependence, emphasizing the dialectical relationship between state power and political subjectivity.
“The Political Economy of Private Printing in Cairo As Told From a Commissioning Deal Turned Sour, 1871”
By: Kathryn A. Schwartz
Abstract: This article examines the political economy of Cairo’s emerging Arabic private printing industry during the third quarter of the 19th century. I use the constituent texts of the industry to demonstrate that it developed upon the speculative model of commissioning, whereby individuals paid printers to produce particular works of their choosing. Commissioning indicates that Egyptian private printing grew from local traditions for producing handwritten texts. Nevertheless, print commissioning differed from manuscript commissioning by requiring individuals to assume great financial risk. I explore the nature and implications of this divergence through a treatise published in 1871 by Musa Kastali, a particularly prolific printer who helped to professionalize Cairene printing. Musa’s treatise details his legal battle with a famous Azhari commissioner, and is unique for describing a printer’s business practices. It demonstrates the importance of situating printings within their socioeconomic contexts in addition to their intellectual ones, a task which cannot be done without an appreciation for the functioning of the printing industry at a local level.
“The Afghan Discovery of Buddha: Civilization History and the Nationalizing of Afghan Antiquity”
By: Nile Green
Abstract: Through their interactions with French archaeologists from around 1930, Afghan historians formulated a new official historical identity for Afghanistan based on its pre-Islamic past. This article provides the first analysis of this process by tracing the emergence of the new historiography through the career of its chief promoter, Ahmad ʿAli Kuhzad, as curator of the National Museum (founded 1931) and director of the Afghan Historical Society (founded 1942). Through placing Kuhzad in these official institutional settings and reading his major works, the article shows how traditional Persianate historiography was challenged by an imported and amended version of world civilizational history. In the decades after independence in 1919, this new historical vision allowed the young Afghan nation-state to stake its civilizational claims on an international stage. In these previously unexcavated historiographical strata lie the roots of the Taliban’s iconoclasm, which are revealed as a dialogical response to the state cultural institutions that remade Afghanistan as Aryana.
“Fear and Loathing in ‘Gavur’ Izmir: Emotions in Early Republican Memories of the Greek Occupation (1919-22)”
By: Ellinor Morack
Abstract: Based on a series of recollections published between January and April 1926 in the Izmir-based daily newspaper Ahenk (Harmony), this article explores how individual Muslim Turks remembered their emotional responses to the Greek occupation of that city (May 1919–September 1922). Analyzing these recollections, it considers why certain events were remembered while others were almost completely left out. By studying how Muslim Turks described their feelings towards the occupying forces, local non-Muslims, and the eventually victorious Turkish army, the article makes an initial contribution to the history of emotions in early republican Turkey. I argue that the composition and consumption of memories were avenues for connecting emotionally to the Turkish nationalist project. This finding challenges the widespread notion that the early republican period was characterized by collective amnesia of the immediate past, and contributes to the growing body of scholarship on popular participation in early republican nationalism.
“Vulnerability and Recognition in Syrian Prison Literature”
By: R. Shareah Taleghani
Abstract: Connecting the stories of human rights violations perpetrated by the Syrian regime against the children of Darʿa in March 2011 to decades of writings about political detention in Syria, this article argues that particular works of Syrian prison literature (adab al-sujūn) articulate a poetics of recognition that both reaffirms and challenges the foundational dependency on political recognition in human rights theory. By focusing on narrative scenes of recognition and misrecognition, I contend that these texts, much like the stories of the children of Darʿa, depict different forms of acute human vulnerability. In doing so, they offer a mode of sentimental education that evokes readers’ empathy and awareness of human suffering. Yet such texts also demonstrate, in allegorical form, how the foundational reliance on political recognition in human rights regimes can limit their efficacy.
“Egyptian Comic and the Challenge to Patriarchal Authoritarianism”
By: Jacob Høigilt
Abstract: Not available
“Sociosexual Roles in Ottoman Pulp Fiction”
By: David Selim Sayers
Abstract: The sociosexual world of the premodern Middle East has been studied through a variety of sources ranging from legal documents to shadow theater. Most such sources are either prescriptive or transgressive: they uphold or subvert a normative framework, telling us more about the framework itself than about how it was inhabited by subjects in everyday life. This study introduces the Tıfli stories as a descriptive source that transcends the prescriptive–transgressive dichotomy. An Ottoman-Turkish genre of prose fiction produced at least from the 18th to the 20th century, the Tıfli stories were a protorealist form of “pulp fiction.” Where most sources sought to stabilize specific sociosexual roles, the Tıfli stories explored the ambiguities inherent in these roles. This study employs the Tıfli stories to interrogate understandings of the Ottoman sociosexual world that rely strongly on normative sources and to stage an approximation of how norms were negotiated in practice.
“The Twilight of Ottoman Sufism: Antiquity, Immorality, and Nation in Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu’s Nur Baba”
By: M. Brett Wilson
Abstract: This article examines modernist-nationalist thought on Sufi lodges during the late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic via the controversial novel Nur Baba (1922) by Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu. Widely translated and the basis of the first-ever Turkish motion picture, Nur Baba depicts a debauched Sufi lodge in turn-of-the-century Istanbul where drug use, alcoholism, and illicit amorous liaisons run amok. The novel played an important role in shaping public perceptions of Sufi lodges in the twilight years of the Ottoman Empire. This piece explores the novel’s place among early 20th-century critiques of Sufism, its approach to national history, its historical setting (during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II), and its close relationship to the intellectual concerns of the Second Constitutional Period (1908–18). It argues for a revised understanding of the novel’s historical setting and contends that the novel employs a combination of moralistic critique and romantic nostalgia that is central to modernist-nationalist treatments of Sufism that instrumentalize Sufi culture for nation-building purposes.
“Ghostly Labor: Ethnic Classism in the Levantine Prism of Jacqueline Kahanoff’s Jacob’s Ladder”
By: Amr Kamal
Abstract: In her writings, the Egyptian-born Israeli author Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff advocated Levantine cosmopolitanism, which she dubbed Levantinism, as a unique cultural model particular to the Eastern Mediterranean. Through an analysis of Kahanoff’s novel Jacob’s Ladder (1951), this article questions the nostalgic image often associated with Egyptian cosmopolitanism. I argue that this text provides rare insight into the process through which Levantine culture developed amid several competing imperial and nationalist projects. In particular, I show how the novel’s depiction of Levantine spaces documents the marginalized role of the working class in the education of elite Levantine society and its acquisition of cultural capital. My analysis also explores how the construction and sustenance of a celebrated image of the Levantine past depended on the racialization of labor, or what I call “ethnic classism.” Through this latter process, a labor force made up of other cosmopolitan subjects was Orientalized and relegated to the background where it served to highlight a European-like Levantine cosmopolitanism.
“Safavids Before Empire: Two 15th-Century Armenian Perspectives”
By: Thomas A. Carlson
Abstract: Armenian sources from the 15th century provide distinctive viewpoints on the history of the Safaviyyih Sufi order before the foundation of the Safavid Empire. The history of T‘ovma of Metsop‘ suggests an earlier intermediate step in the militarization of the order, which scholars have typically viewed as an unprecedented development beginning after 1447, and ascribes to the Safavi shaykh the idea of taxing non-Muslims to encourage conversion to Islam. A second Armenian text, a previously unknown colophon, describes Haydar’s attack on Shirvan in 1488 and the suffering of the Muslim and Christian sedentary population, as well as an episode of interreligious mockery. It is probably the earliest extant source to identify the Qizilbash by their distinctive red hats. Together, these sources suggest ways in which the Safaviyyih order’s development was conditioned by the multireligious environment. They are examples of the value of non-Muslim sources even for late medieval Islamic history.
“The Safavid Threat and Juristic Authority in the Ottoman Empire During the 16th Century”
By: Abdurrahman Atçıl
Abstract: This article investigates the opinions of three senior Ottoman jurists, Sarıgörez (d. 1522), Kemalpaşazade (d. 1534), and Ebussuud (d. 1574), on the subject of the Safavids and their supporters. Historians have treated these opinions as part of the vast polemical literature uniformly intended to justify an impending Ottoman attack against their Safavid rivals. Questioning the notion that all authors shared an undifferentiated attitude, this article underlines that, unlike most polemical literature, the opinions of these three jurists focused on the religiolegal aspects of the Safavid issue and varied and evolved in line with changing historical realities, the jurists’ divergent assessments of the Safavid threat, and their preference for different jurisprudential doctrines. Based on an analysis of the opinions, I argue that these jurists assumed a high degree of autonomy as producers and interpreters of the law and thus did not necessarily feel obliged to legitimate or excuse every imperial action.
International Politics (Volume 54, Issues 1-3)
“Muslim Immigration and Religious Human Rights”
By: Brett S. Heindl
Abstract: Large-scale migration of Muslims into Europe and North America and subsequent debates over bans on Muslim migration, headscarves, and mosque construction draw into sharp relief unresolved tensions within the contemporary human rights regime. A legacy of the post-1945 state system, the contemporary human rights regime is poorly equipped for dealing with the religious freedoms of Muslim immigrants and contributes to the political turbulence surrounding immigrants and asylum-seekers in Europe and North America. To what extent does mass migration to Europe reveal gaps in protections of religious freedom under the contemporary international human rights regime? What might these gaps tell us about the human rights regime itself? The notion of contradictions in the rights regime sheds light on the ironic situation where European politicians appropriate the language of human rights to justify potentially illiberal immigration controls
“Religious Freedom, the Arab Spring, and US Middle East Policy”
By: Nilay Saiya
Abstract: This article examines the critically important but often neglected topic of religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa in the context of the Arab Spring. While conceding that the Arab world generally suffers from a dearth of religious freedom, it argues that religious freedom is both achievable and necessary for regional peace and stability. The article concludes with some recommendations for American policymakers, proposing that one of the key ways the USA can foster climates conducive to American security interests is by taking religious freedom seriously as an instrument of foreign policy.
“The $74 billion problem: US–Egyptian relations after the ‘Arab Awakening’”
By: Oz Hassan
Abstract: Adopting an epistemic communities approach, this article outlines how US foreign policy elites have constructed their response to Egypt’s 2011 revolution. It argues that through the discursive deployment of elite power a neoliberal-security policy paradigm has been constructed and institutionalised. This policy seeks to promote a democratic transition in the long term whilst also allowing US elites to pursue more immediate security interests. However, tensions in the policy are evident as a result of continued flows of US foreign aid to Egypt that are contributing to the continuation of an Egyptian military–industrial–commercial complex that threatens the likelihood of any democratic transition.
Iranian Studies (Volume 50, Issues 1-4)
“Islam without Fuqahāʾ: Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ and His Perso-Islamic Solution to the Caliphate’s Crisis of Legitimacy (70–142 AH/690–760 CE)”
By: Najm al-Din Yousefi
Abstract: This paper seeks to advance the existing scholarship on Persian secretary and belles-lettrist, ʿAbd Allāh Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (d. 139/757) and his Risāla fī ’l-Ṣaḥāba (Epistle Concerning the Entourage). It argues that the Risāla, addressed to the second Abbasid caliph al-Manṣūr, set out to tackle the political ills of the caliphate, especially the crisis of political legitimacy. As the first documented articulation of the Islamic polity, the Risāla made a series of recommendations, including a proposal for legal codification that attempted to reinvent the caliphate by reuniting the institution’s political and legal authority at the expense of private jurists (fuqahāʾ). The paper illustrates how Ibn Muqaffaʿ’s solution relied on a creative integration of Iranian and Islamic ideas of statecraft and legitimate rule. Ironically, this creative integration may have played a part in the Risāla’s failure to garner necessary support to effect change.
“The Visualization of Shaykh Ṣafī al-Dīn Isḥaq Ardabilī: A Unique Illustrated Copy of the Ṣafvat al-Ṣafā at the Aga Khan Museum Collection and Its Illustrations”
By: Aslıhan Erkmen
Abstract: This paper is a monographic study of the illustrated copy of Ṣafvat al-Ṣafā, the life of Shaykh Ṣafī al-Dīn, by Ismāʿil bin Bazzāz, completed in Shaʿbān 990/September 1582 in Shirāz. It begins by giving information on the original text and its sources; then examines the unique illustrated copy. The features of the illustrated Ṣafvat al-Ṣafā are discussed while each of the fourteen images are explored in terms of the text-image relationship. The themes are also briefly analyzed according to a stylistic and iconographical approach in order to further exhibit the manuscript’s uniqueness. The article concludes by emphasizing the significance of this copy at the Aga Khan Museum collection regarding its general condition, the illustration cycle and its records.
“The Battle of Chālderān: Official History and Popular Memory”
By: Barry Wood
Abstract: This article examines some manuscripts of the so-called “Anonymous Histories of Shah Esmāʿil” with a view to answering the question: How did people in post-1514 Iran remember the Battle of Chālderān? After a brief examination of these manuscripts, the article focuses on three moments of the battle—the Safavid council of war, Esmāʿil’s clash with Malquch-oghli, and the Ottoman cannonade—to explore the ways in which popular memory embellished and altered the events we know from the official histories. Such changes reveal that the loss at Chālderān may have marked the end of Shah Esmāʿil’s aura of invincibility, but not of his larger-than-life image in the minds of his countrymen.
“Prelude to War: The Russian Siege and Storming of the Fortress of Ganjeh, 1803–4”
By: George Bournoutian
Abstract: This essay is the full account, the first in English, of the correspondence between the Russian general, Paul Tsitsianov, and the governor of the khanate of Ganjeh, Javād Khān Qajar. Drawing on contemporary Russian and Iranian records, it includes a daily account of Tsitsianov’s preparation, siege and the storming of the fortress of Ganjeh, which led to the First Russo-Iranian War (1804–13). The essay further includes two special maps—the first is the map of the South Caucasus in 1800 and the route of the invasion; while the second is based on a rare Russian military map that reveals the siege and storming of the fortress.
“In Search of “Equitability”: Sir John Cadman, Rezā Shah and the Cancellation of the D’Arcy Concession, 1928‒33”
By: Gregory Brew
Abstract: From 1928 to 1932 the Pahlavi regime of Iran negotiated with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) to revise the D’Arcy Concession. These negotiations, conducted by ‘Abd al-Hosayn Teymurtāsh and the chairman of APOC Sir John Cadman, ended in failure when Rezā Shah unilaterally cancelled the D’Arcy Concession in November 1932. This article argues that “equitability” was the goal of the negotiations. An agreement was ultimately impossible to reach, due to differing ideas on either side regarding what was equitable, changes in the international oil economy and instability within Iran itself, leading to an unequal agreement in April 1933 that confirmed APOC’s long-term security but served only the short-term needs of Iran.
“Dative Case Marking in Vafsi within the OT Framework”
By: Mahinnaz Mirdehghan, Saeed Reza Yousefi
Abstract: The dative case in Vafsi appears in three structures: (a) the case of the experiencer in sensory verbs, (b) the case of the indirect object (IO), and (c) the case of the object of the preposition /da/ (to), or the preposition /az/ (to), or the enclitic /-o/ (to), or the object of the postposition /rā/ (for). In Vafsi, as in many other Indo-European languages, sensory verbs necessitate the emergence of quirky subjects which have the experiencer function and are dative case marked. In order to analyze the dative case marking in Vafsi using optimality theory, this article uses the faithfulness constraint of faith-lex and the markedness constraint hierarchy of *ERG>>*DAT>>*ACC>>*NOM. Vafsi always allocates the dative case to the IO of the ditransitive verbs. This phenomenon is illustrated by use of an optimality theory (OT) tableau. Some Vafsi ditransitive verbs dative case mark the IOs using adpositions. If so, Vafsi differential adpositional case marking (DACM) will rule, as the IOs are objects of adposition (OAs) simultaneously.
“Achaemenid Empire, Tribal Confederations of Southwestern Persia and Seven Families”
By: Ali Bahadori
Abstract: Many tribes lived in southwestern Persia during the Achaemenid period. The region was crucial for the Persian empire in that almost all roads connecting the two capitals of Persepolis and Susa run through it. The policy adopted by the Achaemenids for controlling this tribal region was to establish tribal confederations headed by men loyal to the king such as Madates and Gobryas. The Achaemenid king reinforced these tribal confederations by political marriages. Sisygambis, the mother of Darius III, was presumably an Uxian. This is why she was an ideal person to negotiate with Alexander of Macedon to free the Uxians headed by Madates, also probably an Uxian. Gobryas, the head of the Patischorian tribe, was one of the seven who rebelled against Bardiya/Gaumāta according to the Bisotun inscription and Herodotus. The Persepolis Fortification texts appear to show that the region between modern Bāsht and Ardakān called the Fahliyān region or Shulestān was the territory of this tribe. Irdabama, presumably the daughter of Gobryas born from his marriage with daughter of a local dynast, was married by Darius I in order to maintain Achaemenid control over this tribal region.
“A Gāthic Rite? A Critique of the Cosmological Interpretation of the Gāthās I”
By: Amir Ahmadi
Abstract: In the last few decades ritual interpretation of the Gāthās has replaced the biblical one as the dominant paradigm. The emphasis on the central role of ritual in the Avesta is well justified. This realization has given rise to the question of the role and meaning of ritual in the Gāthās. Marijan Molé had tried to argue that the Gāthās in fact describe and accompany a rite whose purpose was the preservation/renovation of the cosmic order. Students of the Gāthās working within the new paradigm have taken up Molé’s general frame. They have tried to show that the Gāthās, collectively or individually, is the text of a particular rite that served, among others, to preserve the cosmic order, especially the daily rise of the sun. The article questions the validity of this thesis. Its focus is on the version of the thesis we find in a number of recent publications by Jean Kellens. He tries to show that the first Gāthā (Ahunauuaitī) describes a unitary pre-dawn ritual that comprised a haoma rite and an animal sacrifice, and had cosmological and eschatological pretensions. His textual analyses and arguments are examined in some detail. The article concludes that Kellens’s attempt must be deemed unsuccessful.
“The Death of Rostam: Literary Representations of Iranian Identity in Early Islam”
By: D Gershon Lewental
Abstract: The death of the Persian dynast Rostam b. Farrokh-Hormozd at the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah during the Arab-Islamic conquest of Iran received much attention in both the Islamic conquest literature and the Persian epic tradition canonized in the Shāh-nāmeh. A careful examination of the narratives of early Islamic history teaches us much about the mindset of those living in the first centuries following the momentous events of the seventh century. By removing the layers of literary embellishment and moralistic exegesis, we can understand better the impact of the death of this Sāsānian dynast. In addition, by comparing the narrative traditions, we can uncover valuable testimony regarding the early development of what might later be described as an Islamic Iranian identity.
“Muslim-Christian Polemics and Scriptural Translation in Safavid Iran: ʿAli-Qoli Jadid al-Eslām and his Interlocutors”
By: Alberto Tiburcio
Abstract: This article explores the work of ʿAli-Qoli Jadid al-Eslām (d. circa 1722), a Portuguese Augustinian missionary who embraced Islam during in the late seventeenth century. This investigation situates the work of this author within the social, political, and intellectual context of the late Safavid period. It traces the genealogy of his work as a response to the Jesuit missionary Jerome Xavier (d. 1617) and the Italian scholar Filippo Guadagnoli (d. 1656). The article examines how ʿAli-Qoli’s production fits within the genre of dalā’il al-nubuwwah, whereby the Bible is used as “proof” of the validity of Islam. It also analyzes the author’s use of common tropes of polemical literature, mainly that of accusing Christian scholars of practicing taḥrīf or scriptural tampering.
“The Persian–Portuguese Encounter in Hormuz: Orientalism Reconsidered”
By: Ghoncheh Tazmini
Abstract: In 2015, the quincentennial commemoration of the Portuguese arrival on the island of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf (1515–1622) revealed the underlying presupposition among Iranians that the Portuguese presence on the island was the harbinger of a long-term pattern of western imperialism. This analysis questions the accuracy of this narrative by advancing a new interpretative framework that does not reduce the holding of Hormuz to simply another dark episode of European colonial history. Circumscribed and limited in aim and reach, Lusitanian activities on Hormuz cannot be brought under the generic rubric of “orientalism,” which is embedded in European colonial tradition, and which, by extension, buttresses Iranian nationalist sentiment about the Persian–Portuguese entanglement. This research demonstrates that Portuguese objectives diverged from the eighteenth and nineteenth century rationalist scientific traditions of the British, French and Germans professing a civilizing mission as a rationale for colonial policies. Whereas the Portuguese operated from a worldview that combined profit, dynastic pride and religious rhetoric, the Portuguese mission to Hormuz was not guided by a grand discourse of civilizing the “other.” While there was a complex interplay of commercial interests and brutal methods on this strategic entrepôt, Portuguese ambitions in Hormuz were confined and elusive, and at best a matter of tribute-taking. The present paper charters some of these complex interactions.
“’Down with the Monarchy’: Iran’s Republican Moment of August 1953”
By: Siavush Randjbar-Daemi
Abstract: The purpose of this article is to explore and analyze Iran’s “Republican Moment” of 16‒19 August 1953, arguably the last concerted effort to abolish the monarchy and establish a republican order in the county prior to the Revolution of 1978‒79. By drawing on a broad range of primary source materials that have thus far remained relatively understudied by existing scholarship, such as the political press of those crucial days, the essay will attempt to shed light on a number of significant domestic developments which impacted the outcome of the actual coup of 19 August 1953. A further attempt will be made to explain the importance of calls in favor of the Republic and the premier Mohammad Mosaddeq’s refusal to take heed of them. The paper will also explore the diverse origins of the Republican platform and its impact on both the urban crowd and the political elite.
“A Unique Drachm Coin of Shapur I”
By: Muhammet Yücel
Abstract: The Sasanian king Shapur I held a ten year series of campaigns against the Roman Empire. Returning to Iran after these campaigns, in order to immortalize his victories he built a series of reliefs and gave broad information in his famous work, Ka’be-ye Zardosht. However, the term he used to define himself in these articles, “King of Kings of Iranians and non-Iranians,” was not used on coins, which has become a subject of discussion. This work aims to clarify such arguments based on a unique drachm belonging to Shapur I which is present in the Elazig Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography.
“Elamite Karintaš and Avestan Kvirinta: Notes on the Early History of Kerend”
By: D. T. Potts
Abstract: The toponym Kerend has a long history. This study explores the appearance of Kerend in pre-modern sources, beginning with the toponym Karintaš in the late second millennium BC. Kassite, Elamite and Assyrian rivalry for control over the central western Zagros mountains is discussed and the survival of the name in later antiquity is investigated. A derivative of the name appears in Claudius Ptolemy’s Geography and in the Parthian Stations of Isidore of Charax, as well as in the late Antique Cosmographia of the Anonymous Geographer of Ravenna. A homonymous name from the area east of the Caspian Sea is also discussed, as are several unrelated names occurring in other sources (Achaemenid Elamite, Armenian).
“Ṭūsī Reloaded: Ismāʿīlī Paths of Sufi Wayfaring and Sufi Paths of Ismāʿīlī Apophaticism”
By: Aydogan Kars
Abstract: Much ink has been spilled on the tumultuous life and works of Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī. This paper re-evaluates his connections with Sufism and Ismāʿīlism, and challenges the reduction of the former to a late interest, and the latter to an early affiliation abandoned in the wake of the Mongol invasion. The paper argues that Sufi and Ismāʿīlī themes, sources, and ideas are in an organic interpenetration in Ṭūsī’s works throughout his career. While his early Ismāʿīlī eschatology has a fundamentally Sufi nature, his late Sufi treatise adopts the key components of Ismāʿīlī negative theology of the divine nature. The case of Ṭūsī illustrates that the Ismāʿīlī double negation was preserved in Iran and Central Asia, and put into creative interactions with Sufism in the thirteenth century.
“A Theory of Reduplication: Eightfold Meters in Classical Persian Poetry”
By: Amr Taher Ahmed
Abstract: It is a known fact that classical Persian poets were partial to poetic meters composed of eight feet, known as muthamman. On this topic, however, two issues remain unsolved: How did the Persian poets devise these meters in the first place? Despite their flagrant predilection for eightfold meters, why did the Persians never use such meters as sarīʿ and qarīb in this form? This paper argues that the Persians, influenced by the structure of the Arabic eightfold base meters, crafted their muthamman meters after a specific process of reduplication. This theory also accounts for the lack of eightfold sarīʿ and qarīb meters, their structure being incompatible with the reduplication process.
“One Thousand Years of Islamic Education in Najaf: Myth and History of the Shiʿi Ḥawza”
By: Zackery M. Heern
Abstract: According to Shiʿi tradition, the seminary (ḥawza) in Najaf, Iraq is 1,000 years old. The origins of the ḥawza are closely associated with the famous scholar Shaykh al-Ṭūsī (385/995‒459/1067). This paper addresses the question of whether or not there is sufficient historical evidence to support the tradition that the ḥawza of Najaf is indeed 1,000 years old. On the basis of Arabic sources, the article argues that although Shiʿi educational institutions in Najaf were incepted a millennium ago, Najaf was rarely the locus of Shiʿi education prior to the thirteenth/nineteenth century. Based on statistical and historical analysis of Shiʿi scholars in Najaf, this paper outlines a short history of scholarly activity in one of the oldest college towns in the world. In addition to developing a working definition of the term ḥawza, the paper situates the rise of Shiʿi educational systems in the broader context of the evolution of Islamic scholarly institutions, including colleges (madrasas).
“My Enemy’s Enemy: Consequences of the CIA Operation against Abulqasim Lahuti, 1953–54”
By: Masha Kirasirova
Abstract: In January 1954, the Iranian émigré poet living in the Soviet Union, Abulqasim Lahuti, was summoned before the Central Committee in Moscow to discuss the publication of a fraudulent Persian-language autobiography that reflected unfavorably on his experiences in the Soviet Union. This autobiography was the result of a 1953 CIA operation in Iran launched by Donald Wilber after he had become convinced that in case of a Soviet takeover Lahuti would be the one most likely put forward as leader. To preempt this threat, the CIA published the counterfeit autobiography. Unlike Mosaddeq and other CIA targets, however, Lahuti’s position as a cultural mediator between the Soviet Union, Soviet Tajikistan, and Iran made the consequences of this operation more complex than the CIA had imagined. This paper explores its aftermath using recently declassified Soviet archival documents and interviews. It argues that this operation transformed Lahuti’s professional and social standing in Moscow, empowered him to challenge his long-time enemy Bobojon Ghafurov on the issue of Tajik ethnogenesis, and helped change the official Stalinist line on Persian literary culture. Lastly, this operation politicized Lahuti’s biography in ways that are relevant to the present day.
“Persian Letters of a Pashtun Tribal Ruler on Judicial Settlement of a Political Conflict (1724)”
By: Mikhail Pelevin
Abstract: The article examines the contents and the historical background of five early specimens of diplomatic correspondence on the Pashtun tribal territories. Written in Persian by the Khatak chief Afzal Khān (d. circa 1740/41) these letters supplement the author’s Pashto account of his political conflict with the Khatak spiritual leaders, the sheikhs, in 1724. While in the letters the tribal chief appealed for judicial settlement of the conflict via legal procedure in the Sharia Court of Peshawar, in verbal negotiations he sought extrajudicial administrative arbitration or tribal practices of reconciliation according to the Pashtun customary law. The article conttrunains new materials for the historiography of Pashtun tribes and for comparative study of conflict patterns in Muslim tribal societies.
“The Shiʿa Afghan Community: Between Transnational Links and Internal Hurdles”
By: Clément Therme
Abstract: This article aims to present a political analysis of the relationship between the Shiʿa community in Afghanistan and the new political system that emerged after the US military intervention of 2001. In light of the sectarian conflicts in the greater Middle East and the connection between South West Asia and the Syrian war since 2011, this article illustrates the limits of the social empowerment of the Shiʿa communities in Afghanistan. The article outlines the internal religious scene and the connections between āyatollāhs (marājeʿ), mainly from Iran or Iraq, and Afghan Shiʿite believers. It also examines how the Afghan Shiʿite community differs from those of Iran and Iraq.
“A Silent Conversation with Literary History: Re-theorizing Modernism in the Poetry of Bizhan Jalāli”
By: Aria Fani
Abstract: Episodic approaches may point in the direction of general trends by examining the ideological presuppositions of dominant literary discourses. However, they necessarily reduce the aesthetic complexity of literary movements and fail to critically consider poets whose vision may not directly speak to common literary trends. Poets such as Bizhan Jalāli (d. 1999) have been rendered standalone figures whose visions of poetic modernism are understood only in the context of their “non-adherence” to the dominant literary discourse of their time or are overlooked altogether. This essay examines how the literary life and reception of Bizhan Jalāli intersect with the intellectual and aesthetic underpinnings of committed circles in the 1960s and 1970s. The twists and turns of Jalāli’s poetics do not speak directly but rather laterally to committed articulations of modernism. The article returns Jalāli to his literary milieu by analyzing the way his work has been received by poets, anthologists and critics. As the contours of literary commitment drastically change in the 1980s and 1990s, another image of Jalāli emerges: once marginalized for his “non-commitment,” he is championed as an “apolitical” poet.
“Re-Ghettoization: Armenian Christian Neighborhoods in Multicultural Tehran”
By: James Barry
Abstract: This paper incorporates a study of “re-ghettoization” among the Armenian Christians of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It focuses on how legal marginalization has led to the emergence of an entirely separate existence from the Muslim majority in Tehran among Armenians born after the revolution. By focusing on the spatial and social divisions of the hayashatner (Armenian neighborhoods) and the “social” ghetto of the Ararat Compound, this article addresses the question: what are the social implications for religious discrimination in the Muslim Middle East? This paper is based on three extensive blocks of fieldwork carried out in Iran from 2010 to 2015.
“Neither Dowlati nor Khosusi: Islam, Education and Civil Society in Contemporary Iran”
By: Zep Kalb
Abstract: Private universities are a rapidly expanding form of education in Iran, and increasingly include Islam and the social sciences alongside the hard sciences too. What implications does the privatization of religious and social scientific knowledge have for the Islamic Republic? Scholarship has so far responded by looking at the ways in which the Iranian authoritarian state has monopolized religion, repressed the social sciences and hollowed out student activism. Complicating these arguments, this article provides a historical and institutional comparison of higher education in Iran in order to look at the evolving degree of autonomy of academic institutions and the ability of actors that operate within them to contribute to critical debate, social activism and novel discourse. The article proposes that while state universities and Islamic Azad suffer from politicization and control, a small set of privately owned “Islamic” universities is using its elite connections, financial independence and socio-pedagogical ties to the seminary and modern academia to secure enhanced levels of free debate and independent thinking.
“Picturing Pasargadae: Visual Representation and the Ambiguities of Heritage in Iran”
By: Ali Mozaffari
Abstract: This paper probes the relationship between visual representations and visitation practices at Pasargadae, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southern Iran. Presenting a systematic analysis of publicly available online images of Pasargadae, the paper examines the complex relationship between the place and its visual representations. Through analysis, the paper elaborates on a sense of intimacy that, while grounding Pasargadae, is also a potential common ground in pre-Islamic heritage in which the Iranian state and society could at once meet and contest versions of identity. Examining this relationship facilitates reflections into both heritage and the peculiarities of its visual representation in the Iranian context.
Israel Studies (Volume 22, Issue 1)
“George Brown and British Policy Towards Israel in the Aftermath of the Six-day War”
By: Arieh Kochavi
Abstract: In the aftermath of the Six-Day War (5–10 June 1967), Britain’s foreign secretary, George Brown, invested significant efforts in improving Britain’s relations with Egypt as part of his strategy to restore Britain’s standing in the Arab world and protect British economic and geostrategic interests in the Middle East. The unavoidable result of this policy was the worsening of relations between Britain and Israel, which blamed the British Foreign Office of adopting a deliberate pro-Arab and anti-Israel policy. The growing tension between the two countries developed into a personal confrontation between the Israeli prime minister and the British foreign secretary, who was regarded in Israel as the chief architect of the change of British policy in the region.
“Foreign News on US Media: A Longitudinal Analysis of News Coverage of Israel”
By: Amnon Cavari, Moran Yarchi, Shira Pindyck
Abstract: Israel is covered extensively by the American press. Several studies have examined US news coverage during specific events, yet a systematic analysis of the nature of this coverage is still lacking. This article provides an in-depth investigation of the coverage of Israel from 1981 to 2013 in three leading newspapers in the United States. Using computer-based content analysis of 56,490 news articles, we examine how the intensity of the coverage and the specific topics discussed vary over time. Our empirical findings demonstrate a relative decline in coverage of Israel, and confirm existing theories about media coverage of foreign events—mainly that coverage increases during periods of tumult, especially instances of armed conflict resulting in military action, and decreases during periods of heightened peace talks.
“Not So ‘Special Relationship’?: US-Israel Relations During Barack Obama’s Presidency”
By: Ilai Z. Saltzman
Abstract: The “special relationship” between Israel and the US, according to conventional wisdom, parallels only the Anglo-American bond. During Barack Obama’s presidency, however, some of the underlying foundations of the US-Israel “special relationship” were challenged and the outcome was noticeable discord and ongoing diplomatic friction between Washington and Jerusalem that continues to this day. The objective of this article is to examine the nature of these shifts during Obama’s term in office and it concludes that while in each aspect there was a noticeable change that allowed Obama to exhibit a more critical position towards Israel, it was insufficient to transform the relationship from “special” to “normal”.
“Israel’s Relations with the East African States of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania—From Independence to the Present”
By: Michael B. Bishku
Abstract: An examination of these relations not only through specific bilateral and multilateral concerns, but also within the respective contexts of Cold War, post-Cold War, and Middle Eastern and African politics. The article demonstrates that the region plays a complementary role to Israel’s relations with Ethiopia, while the East African states have been drawn towards Israel primarily due to country-specific issues of security and economic development.
“’Can It Be That Our Dormant Language Has Been Wholly Revived?’: Vision, Propaganda, and Linguistic Reality in the Yishuv Under the British Mandate”
By: Zohar Shavit
Abstract: “Hebraization” was a project of nation building—the building of a new Hebrew nation. Intended to forge a population comprising numerous languages and cultural affinities into a unified Hebrew-speaking society that would actively participate in and contribute creatively to a new Hebrew-language culture, it became an integral and vital part of the Zionist narrative of the period. To what extent, however, did the ideal mesh with reality? The article grapples with the unreliability of official assessments of Hebrew’s dominance, and identifies and examines a broad variety of less politicized sources, such as various regulatory, personal, and commercial documents of the period as well as recently-conducted oral interviews. Together, these reveal a more complete—and more complex—portrait of the linguistic reality of the time.
“Hierarchy, Representation, and Inclusion in a Reflective Democratic Culture: Conflicting Perspectives in Israel’s Nascent Years”
By: Avi Bareli
Abstract: The article addresses a common argument that tracks the historical roots of Israeli politics in the non-democratic political tradition of Eastern Europe. This popular picture is expressed in Yonatan Shapiro’s monolithic depiction of a political society shaped by a domineering, hierarchical party, which only practiced procedural democracy. The article asserts that the political culture of the Yishuv and the State of Israel during its early years was a vibrant democratic culture whose members engaged in intensive struggles and self-examination of their political order. Two junctures of these many struggles are explored: the struggles that concluded with Mapai splitting in 1942–44, and the struggles of the early 1950s. They revolved around widespread, resounding demands in Mapai for an effective party-based democracy that would provide a foundation for inclusive democracy in the entire society. They expressed a democratic ethos based on conflicting principles of unity, authority, and participation and the various democratic systems of political representation that stem from these principles. Understanding this is a necessary condition for understanding how the state of Israel could become one of the few democratic states created following WW II, and how it managed to survive as such.
“Rhetoric of Decline in a Neo-liberal Context: Workers’ Committees and the Decline of Labor in Contemporary Israel”
By: Gadi Nissim, David De Vries
Abstract: This study of twenty workers’ committees in Israel’s private sector sheds light on the adaptive mindset accompanying labor’s decline. Using ethnographic methodology, the article exposes varied dimensions of reception of neo-liberalism among its potential contestants. We found that the committee’s activists, accepting the fundamentals of neo-liberalism, rhetorically reproduce the notions of the determinism of the laws of the free market and their presumed inferiority in the workplace, and that their defensive strategies often mimic management tactics. While these de-politicized tactics allow the survival of the committees and their ongoing provision of services to workers, they forgo any ambition to reshape employment relations or to thwart the decline of organized work.
“Choosing One’s Life: Identity-swapping Plots in Popular Fiction by Israeli Haredi Women”
By: Yael Shenker
Abstract: The article discusses literature by ultra-Orthodox women in Israel that targets an adult ultra-Orthodox audience. In particular, it examines plots of “identity swapping” in haredi women’s fiction published by haredi publishers in Israel. This choice helps probe this corpus as a whole, as well as the methods that have shaped haredi identities in recent years in Israel. It argues that in texts written in the haredi community, even if the characters ultimately choose a religious identity, whether inborn or acquired, the very examination of the alternatives opened up during this period of indecision is as significant as the actual choice. As haredi authors are obligated to comply with the ideological and Halachic norms of their community, the choice of haredi identity at the end of the novel is almost imperative. Yet the opportunity to ponder this choice or to welcome possibilities inherent in other identities paves the way to a refreshed and more varied haredi identity. Looking closely at these dramatic moments and the choices characters made in their wake, it explores the relationship between community, identity, and identification as represented in this popular fiction.
Journal of Democracy (Volume 28, Issues 1 & 2)
“Turkey: How the Coup Failed”
By: Berk Esen, Sebnem Gumuscu
Abstract: When parts of the Turkish military attempted a coup in July 2016, the competitive authoritarian AKP regime was able to bring both its competitive and its authoritarian features to bear, stopping the coup and launching a crackdown.
“Tunisia’s Islamists and the ‘Turkish Model’”
By: Monica Marks
Abstract: Ennahda has long felt an especially strong kinship with Turkey’s AKP, which has seen as representing a combination of piety, prosperity, and democratic credibility. How might their relationship be affected by the AKP’s more recent authoritarian turn?
“Jordan and Morocco: The Palace Gambit”
By: Sean Yom
Abstract: Two of the Arab world’s more liberal regimes, the kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco, are sometimes said to be evolving toward democracy. Is this true, and what are the longer-term prospects for these two monarchies?
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 13, Issue 1)
“Are They Married?: Muslim Marriages and the Interrelationship between Transnationalism and Ethnonationalism in the Gulf”
By: Attiya Ahmad
Abstract: In recent years marriages among Muslims of different ethnonational backgrounds have developed in the Gulf region. While proponents of these “Muslim marriages” depict them as transnational alternatives to ethnonational forms of affinity and belonging, as I discuss in this article these marriages are shaped and constrained by the very ethnonational processes they are often juxtaposed against. Based on over eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted on foreign resident women’s Islamic halaqa in Kuwait, sites where “Muslim marriages” are deliberated and discussed, I argue that “Muslim marriages” constitute transnational forms that are not simply marked by the extension or diffusion of kinship networks, ethnonational forms, and religious piety movements across borders. They reveal how transnationalism constitutes a dynamic field in which kinship, ethnonationalism, and religious movements are invoked and reworked, configured and reconfigured together in often complex and contradictory ways.
“Fair to Swear?: Gendered Formulations of Fairness in Football in Turkey”
By: Yağmur Nuhrat
Abstract: This article focuses on swearing in football chants in Turkey to demonstrate that fans construct a specifically masculine notion of fairness that diverges from the universalizing ideal of fair play. I argue that the Turkish Football Federation’s (TFF) clubs’ and mainstream media’s antiswearing campaigns and policies, ostensibly to uphold fair play, miss how fans gender fairness by referring to the masculine ideal of the crazy/hot-blooded young man (delikanlı). In keeping with theorization on “ordinary ethics” in anthropology, this analysis illuminates how fairness and gender are conegotiated in football in Turkey. In addition, this article critiques the mission the TFF ascribes to women fans, delineating them as naturally polite guardians of an imposed sense of fair play. I show that women fans have a complex relation with “hegemonic masculinity” whereby they simultaneously take part in the specific masculine construction of fairness and oppose normative gender expectations, specifically in relation to language.
“Gendering Landscapes of War through the Narratives of Soldiers’ Mothers: Military Service and the Kurdish Conflict in Turkey”
By: Senem Kaptan
Abstract: Despite being exempt from compulsory military service, women have been indispensable in their roles as mothers of conscripted soldiers in the conflict between the Turkish military and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Based on in-depth interviews conducted with twenty women in Istanbul whose sons were deployed to the conflict zone and returned home without any injuries, this article examines how the conflict has impacted the mothers’ perception of national service, of the Kurdish conflict, and of the “East.” I argue that the women start to partly question the obligation to serve once their children are asked to become the potential victims, and perpetrators, of the conflict. But this questioning does not develop into a full-fledged critique of the service and ends up reinforcing the tropes associated with Kurds and the “East” as backward, unruly, and resistant to change. Thus they mostly justify the modernizing mission of the military.
“Egyptian Women’s Writings”
By: Miriam Cooke
Abstract: Not available
“The Saadawian Androgyny”
By: Zimu Niu
Abstract: This article discusses a model of male-female relation promoted by the Egyptian writer and activist Nawal El Saadawi. El Saadawi argued that man and woman are born exactly the same: not only do they resemble each other, but they constitute together a single entity that is humanity, like “identical twins” who develop from a single fertilized egg. It is culture/patriarchy that differentiated and hierarchized them, through an everlasting process of assigning and molding identities. This model of parallel and interdependent male-female relation, or what I call “the Saadawian androgyny,” is both an innovation and a restoration. Many ancient religious and mystic texts from across the world held very similar views, before patriarchy prevailed and history became dominated by the voice of the few, turning sex/gender into a privilege or a limitation. The Saadawian androgyny is a powerful way to deconstruct patriarchy, because it breaks the hierarchized binary thought on which patriarchy is based.
“Feminist Voices of the 1990s Generation: A Quest for Identity in Miral al-Tahawy’s Blue Aubergine”
By: Valerie Anishchenkova
Abstract: The generation of Egyptian writers and other culture makers whose creative work started to come out during the transformative 1990s produced new distinct discourses on identity, including those related to gender. This article closely examines Miral al-Tahawy’s novel Blue Aubergine (1998) as representative of the New Age feminist writing of Jil al-Tisʾinaat. This antiestablishment form of feminism rebelled against the ideologies of previous movements. It distorted the conventional binaries, such as secular versus Islamic, and promoted hybridity. Finally, it prioritized individual constructions of female identity and plurality of representation. The article investigates the novel’s narrative aspects—hybridity, polyphony, intertextuality—which illustrate the quest for a new Egyptian female identity.
“Ethnographic and Literary Reflections on Miral al-Tahawy’s The Tent”
By: Caroline Seymour-Jorn
Abstract: This article focuses on the Egyptian writer Miral al-Tahawy’s 1996 novel The Tent (al-Khibāʾ). This ethnographically informed novel sheds light on liminal, emotional, and imaginative aspects of social and personal life—those aspects that tend to be particularly challenging for the ethnographer to transmit in his or her writing about culture. I argue that we can read The Tent as ethnographically informed primarily because of the complex way in which al-Tahawy incorporates authentic poetry into the text and that this usage allows her to represent poetry as a culturally significant element of Bedouin women’s lives. I approach the novelist’s manner of writing about emotion and imaginativeness by attending to aesthetic processes themselves, which are often ignored by anthropologists looking at fiction.
Journal of Palestine Studies (Volume 46, Issues 2 & 3)
“Criminalizing Resistance: The Case of Balata and Jenin Refugee Camps”
By: Alaa Tartir
Abstract: The Palestinian Authority (PA) adopted donor-driven security sector reform (SSR) as the linchpin to its post-2007 state-building project. As SSR proceeded, the occupied West Bank became a securitized space and the theater for PA security campaigns whose ostensible purpose was to establish law and order. This article tackles the consequences of the PA’s security campaigns in Balata and Jenin refugee camps from the people’s perspective through a bottom-up ethnographic methodological approach. These voices from below problematize and examine the security campaigns, illustrating how and why resistance against Israel has been criminalized. The article concludes by arguing that conducting security reform to ensure stability within the context of colonial occupation and without addressing the imbalances of power can only ever have two outcomes: “better” collaboration with the occupying power and a violation of Palestinians’ security and national rights by their own security forces.The Palestinian Authority (PA) adopted donor-driven security sector reform (SSR) as the linchpin to its post-2007 state-building project. As SSR proceeded, the occupied West Bank became a securitized space and the theater for PA security campaigns whose ostensible purpose was to establish law and order. This article tackles the consequences of the PA’s security campaigns in Balata and Jenin refugee camps from the people’s perspective through a bottom-up ethnographic methodological approach. These voices from below problematize and examine the security campaigns, illustrating how and why resistance against Israel has been criminalized. The article concludes by arguing that conducting security reform to ensure stability within the context of colonial occupation and without addressing the imbalances of power can only ever have two outcomes: “better” collaboration with the occupying power and a violation of Palestinians’ security and national rights by their own security forces.
“Claiming Identities in Palestine: Migration and Nationality under the Mandate”
By: Lauren Banko
Abstract: In the decades just prior to the end of World War I, residents of the Ottoman Empire’s provinces alternated with ease between a variety of personal identities and affiliations. Overlapping imperial, supranational, and localized identities could all be claimed with flexibility by Arab travelers and migrants in the region and in the wider diaspora. Arab, and later Jewish, inhabitants of Palestine conceived of nationality as a choice based on personal understandings of identity that were not necessarily tied to domicile in a particular territory. This article traces the demise of such a notion of nationality, and its practical repercussions after 1918, showing how Palestine’s emigrants and immigrants did not immediately understand or reimagine themselves as part of the more rigid nationality system imposed by the British Mandate. Analyzing regional migration into and out of Palestine during the interwar period, the study seeks to explain the ways in which a system of flexible national affiliation transformed into a rigid system of nationality based on domicile.
“Legislating Exclusion: Palestinian Migrants and Interwar Citizenship”
By: Nadim Bawalsa
Abstract: This article explores the British Mandate’s legal framework for regulating citizenship and nationality in Palestine following the post–World War I fragmentation of the Ottoman Empire. It argues that the 1925 Palestinian Citizenship Order-in-Council prioritized the settlement and naturalization of Jews in Palestine, while simultaneously disenfranchising Palestinians who had migrated abroad. Ultimately, the citizenship legislation reflected British imperial interests as it fulfilled the promises made in the Balfour Declaration to establish in Palestine a homeland for the Jewish people, while it attempted to ensure the economic viability of a modern Palestine as a British mandated territory. Excluded from Palestinian citizenship by the arbitrary application of the Order-in-Council, the majority of Palestinian migrants during the 1920s and 30s never secured a legal means to return to Palestine, thus marking the beginning of the Palestinian diaspora.
“Return Migration and the Rise of the Palestinian Nouveaux Riches, 1870 – 1925”
By: Jacob Norris
Abstract: This article examines the figure of the returning émigré in late Ottoman and early Mandate Palestine. The wave of Palestinians who emigrated in the pre–World War I period did not, for the most part, intend to settle abroad permanently. Hailing largely from small towns and villages in the Palestinian hilly interior, they moved in and out of the Middle East with great regularity and tended to reinvest their money and social capital in their place of origin. The article argues that these emigrants constituted a previously undocumented segment of Palestinian society, the nouveaux riches who challenged the older elites from larger towns and cities in both social and economic terms. The discussion focuses in particular on their creation of new forms of bourgeois culture and the disruptive impact this had on gender and family relations, complicating the assumption that middle-class modernity in Palestine was largely effected by external actors.
“Developing a Palestinian Resistance Economy through Agricultural Labor”
By: Rayya El Zein
Abstract: In 2013, four Palestinians incorporated Amoro Agriculture, Palestine’s only mushroom farm. In the absence of an alternative to Israeli mushrooms on the Palestinian market, Amoro’s products were welcomed as an engaged example of the boycott of Israeli goods and were hailed as an iteration of a Palestinian resistance economy based in the agricultural sector. Using the testimony of the farmers and their experience of what proved to be a short-lived agritech venture, this article explores questions of agricultural development in the occupied Palestinian territories generally, and the development of a “resistance economy” based in agriculture specifically. It argues for recentralizing the question of the development of agricultural labor in the occupied West Bank and for abandoning the depoliticizing romanticism that surrounds the land and the farmer in the discourses of Palestinian struggle. It further contends that growth in the agricultural sector needs to be addressed in a holistic fashion, which includes a recalibration of the relationship of capital and the quasi-state bureaucracy of the Palestinian Authority to labor.
“Enacting Imperial Control: Midwifery Regulation in Mandate Palestine”
By: Elizabeth Brownson
Abstract: Using the 1929 Midwives Ordinance as an analytical lens, this article argues that the Mandate government’s treatment of Palestinian midwives reflected Britain’s broader aims to control colonial subjects and to institutionalize health care, perpetuating British constructs of gender and class in the process. It claims that in restricting midwives’ autonomy, the administration not only infringed on their livelihoods but curtailed Palestinian women’s economic opportunities. While Palestinian midwives successfully used a number of creative tactics to resist government attempts to control them, the restrictions placed on them limited general access to health care, especially in rural areas of Palestine. In an era of unprecedented state reach, however, officials were far more concerned with monitoring midwives than with expanding Palestinians’ access to much-needed health care, ultimately privileging the Yishuv in this sphere, as in so many others.
“Neither Two States nor One: The Palestine Question in the Age of Trump”
By: Seth Anziska
Abstract: In the opening weeks of his administration, President Donald Trump overturned a longstanding U.S. commitment to territorial partition and a two-state model for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seized the opportunity to demand “overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River” while exploring regional approaches that bypass the Palestinians. At the same time, a host of Israeli politicians are reviving older models such as limited autonomy without political sovereigntyand partial territorial annexation, or advocating for other forms of separation with Israel’s continued control. The resulting middle ground—neither two states nor one—poses a great risk to Palestinian self-determination. By situating recent developments in a broader historical context going back to the autonomy plan of Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, this essay provides an overview of a shifting political discourse and examines the consequences for the fate of the Palestinians today.
Middle East Critique (Volume 26, Issues 1 & 2)
“War and Resentment: Critical Reflections on the Legacies of the Iran-Iraq War”
By: Kaveh Ehsani
Abstract: During the challenging transitional period after the 1979 revolution, the Iran-Iraq War helped the Islamic Republic to consolidate its hold on power by creating new institutions of coercion and governance, mobilizing popular support, and eliminating domestic rivals. Despite the state becoming entrenched, the political elite and Iranian society both remain highly divided over the legacy of the war and the nature and the direction of the post-revolution and post-war project. The popular aspirations that were unleashed during the revolution were incorporated into the war experience, but they remain unfulfilled and are a major factor that shape public culture and political practices. This discontent is compounded by the shortcomings of authoritarian and ill-conceived post-war reconstruction, especially in war-torn regions. The imposition of an official interpretation of the ‘Sacred Defense’ effectively silences plural experiences of the war and alternative and more critical analyses of it. As a result, instead of acting as a unifying experience that reinforces state hegemony, the legacy of the war is a widespread resentment that affects public culture and political attitudes. This article investigates the conflicted legacies of the Iran-Iraq War by using case studies from historical and ethnographic research, as well as professional experiences (Much of the analysis in this article is based on the author’s academic research and professional experience in Iran during extended intervals since 1989. These include ethnographic research and professional work as a regional planner on post-war reconstruction in rural Khuzestan; ongoing historical and ethnographic research on the refinery city of Abadan; urban research and consulting collaboration with the Tehran City Council and other urban institutions; and ongoing editorial collaboration with the journal Goftogu in Tehran).
“Development, Mobilization and War: The Iranian Construction Jehad, Construction Mobilization and Trench Builders Association (1979–2013)”
By: Eric Lob
Abstract: Based on ethnographic and archival research in Iran, this article examines the intersection of war making, rural development and popular mobilization in the state formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). To this end, the article profiles three organizations that were instrumental to this process: The Construction Jehad, the Construction Mobilization and the Trench Builders Association. During the last three decades, these organizations have helped the IRI and its factionalized elites in their attempts to promote rural development, mobilize and socialize constituents, gain popular support and electoral votes, and demobilize and marginalize domestic and foreign opponents. These organizations also produced and addressed the unintended consequences of cognitive dissonance, deep-seated disillusionment and ideological detachment among activists, veterans, students and youth. By organizing a critical mass of constituents and aggregating popular claims from below, these organizations exerted bottom-up pressures and demands on the very state and the very elites that they had assisted and supported.
“Dark Corners and the Limits of Ahmad Dehqan’s War Front Fiction”
By: Amir Moosavi
Abstract: Since 2005, Iranian writer and veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, Ahmad Dehqan, has emerged as one of the most well-known writers of fiction based on that war. War fiction in Iran (as well as other forms of cultural production about the war) generally has adhered to the official narrative of ‘Sacred Defense,’ which the Islamic Republic has promoted. The state also has been, and continues to be, the chief supporter of cultural production dealing with the war, particularly through institutions such as the Howzeh-ye Honari (Islamic Arts Center). Ahmad Dehqan is one such writer who is affiliated with the state. His fiction, however, particularly his novel Safar beh garā-ye devist va haftād darajeh (Journey to Heading 270 Degrees) and short story collection, Man qātel-e pesar-tān hastam (I Killed Your Son), not only fail to adhere to the norms of Sacred Defense fiction, but in many ways, attempt to undermine it. By focusing on two of Dehqan’s short stories from the collection I Killed Your Son, this article argues that his fiction mines the recent past to challenge the authority of the Sacred Defense narrative by rewriting aspects of stories that took place during the war. In doing so, he reasserts the unsettled nature of the war narrative today in Iranian society and the continued interest and importance of the war.
“The Outcasts: The Start of ‘New Entertainment’ in Pro-Regime Filmmaking in the Islamic Republic of Iran”
By: Narges Bajoghli
Abstract: With developments in the past decade of such popular films as Masoud Dehnamaki’s trilogy, Ekhrajiha (The Outcasts), we are privy to a new trend in pro-regime filmmaking in Iran, one that centers on the creation of ‘new entertainment.’ This pivot by pro-regime cultural producers is based on a perceived need to do away with the ‘war time propaganda’ that ‘no one wants to see anymore’ (as one pro-regime screenwriter told me), and to replace it with ‘new entertainment’ that can engage with youth. The former head of Ansar-e Hezbollah in Iran, Masoud Dehnamaki, emerged at the forefront of this new movement by creating popular films that employ slapstick comedy about the war and which sell at historic box office numbers. His first narrative film, The Outcasts, is the focus of this article, as it signaled the beginning of a ‘new entertainment’ by pro-regime cultural producers. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this article analyzes the film and filmmaker most responsible for the creation of ‘new entertainment.’
“Reconceptualizing Rural Entrepreneurship Discourse from a Social Constructionist Perspective: A Case Study from Iran”
By: Hassan Shahraki, Reza Movahedi
Abstract: In this paper, we use a case study from Iran to present a sociological analysis of rural entrepreneurship discourse. Drawing on social constructionism as the main theoretical paradigm, as well as Anthony Giddens’ Structuration Theory (ST), we argue that Iran’s National Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Cooperatives (NFEC), a governmental national development plan, has hegemonic features at both the structural and project levels. Our main argument is that there is an urgent need to shift from the rural entrepreneurship discourse to a multifunctional agricultural one as an alternative rural development strategy.
“The Saudi State as an Identity Racketeer”
By: Ben Rich, Ben MacQueen
Abstract: Although substantial research has examined the Saudi state’s symbiosis with the Islamic revivalist movement commonly known as ‘Wahhabism’, few studies have considered how the dynamics of state formation underpin this relationship. This article argues that a continuous and circular political logic lies behind the Saudi state’s patronage of the revivalist movement since 1744 and proposes a four-stage model that explains how and why the regime has maintained its support for the revivalist movement over such a prolonged period. This article first outlines the model, then presents a detailed analysis of its persistent presence in the development of Saudi state authority in order to highlight the recurrent manner by which the state often has constructed the spiritual concerns of revivalists to counter challenges to its authority, a pattern demonstrated most recently during the Arab Spring and the war in Yemen. The effects of this model will continue to shape the decisions, policies and perceptions of the Saudi political elite for the foreseeable future.
“Authority-Holders (wulat al-umur) in Contemporary Islamic Politics and Governance: The Case of Saudi Arabia”
By: Muhammad Al Atawneh
Abstract: This article examines the meanings, developments and implementations of the Islamic traditional perspective of governance—the authority-holders (wulat al-umur) in contemporary Saudi Arabia. In the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, perhaps more than in any other Islamic country, the perspectives of wulat al-umur still dominate socio-political rhetoric and practices and determine the ruler/ruled relationship to a large extent. Who are these authority-holders? What is their scope of authority? Relevant studies often attribute the connotation authority-holders to the politicians (umara) sitting at the center of power and also to the religious scholars (ulama), who may wield a certain amount of influence on the politicians. Yet, while this study agrees, in principle, with the scholarly observations of an asymmetric ulama/umara power structure, it argues that the ulama do enjoy significant power in Saudi Arabia, that is, they play an important role in shaping the socio-cultural landscape of the kingdom.
“The Tunisian Revolution & Governance of Religion”
By: Teije Hidde Donker, Kasper Ly Netterstrøm
Abstract: This article examines how the Tunisian revolution and subsequent political transition has influenced the relationship between state power and Islam. It aims to provide an in-depth and historically informed analysis of these relations through an exploration of one specific case: The attempts by successive Ministers of Religious Affairs to reform the state’s management of Tunisian religious institutions after January 2011. The article builds on multiple fieldwork visits to Tunisia by both authors, in addition to an extensive set of primary and secondary sources. The authors argue that relations between state and religious authority have changed considerably throughout the 2011–2015 period, and that a wide variety of actors, interests and political conflicts intersected with the question of state-religion relations. The fact that non-Islamist actors played such a crucial role in shaping the governance of Tunisian religious institutions underlines the necessity for scholars to give more attention to the role non-Islamist actors play in the institutionalization of public religion in Arab and Muslim majority countries.
“The Violent Rise of Palestine’s Lost Generation”
By: Dag Tuastad
Abstract: The ‘Oslo generation,’ the youth of Palestine born after the 1993 Oslo Agreement, is Palestine’s lost generation. They have experienced a near complete exclusion from ordinary political participation, dominated by the elders of the Palestinian national movement. Their trust in the parent generation and the Palestinian National Authority has been undermined equally. The vacuum created by the weakened parental and national authority has been filled with youths who first and foremost follow their age peers. The protests and knife attacks seen in the West Bank during the autumn 2015 were obviously a protest against the Israeli occupation. However, they were also an expression of a clash of generations and the rise of a lost generation.
“American Policy and Proliferation of Media as Causes of a New Type of Coup after the Cold War? Evidence from Turkey”
By: Ömer Aslan, Hakan Kiyici
Abstract: Several cases of coups d’état in the post-Cold War period suggest that, in some coup-prone countries, the classical way of taking over governments by armies may have given way to new coup mechanisms. However, students of military politics have yet to study in sufficient depth the nature and reasons for new type(s) of coups. Taking its cue from these cases, this article studies the deviant single case of the February 28th coup process in Turkey in 1997, which entirely diverged from the old textbook coup method the Turkish military had excelled at executing during the Cold War. In seeking to explore the conditions under which the Turkish army chose to follow a new coup playbook, this article focuses on two factors: the distinct American position that vetoed a hard coup and the end of the state’s monopoly on TV broadcasting.
Middle East Law and Governance (Volume 9, Issue 1)
“Willing to Pay: Competing Paradigms about Resistance to Paying for Water Services in Cairo, Egypt”
By: Tessa Farmer
Abstract: Though administrators and end-users are both dissatisfied with water pricing in Egypt, the two groups labor under competing paradigms about what is wrong about the system and why. Water sector agencies and experts from international organizations blame public unwillingness to pay for water at the door of mistaken notions of entitlement, arguing that users do not want to pay because they see water as a gift from the divine and have lingering expectations from a previous social contract requiring the state to provide basic services to citizens. In response to this framing of the problem, the state works to make visible the infrastructural systems that create potable water to justify water costs. This paradigm deliberately misses the point that it is access, quality and cost issues that drive public opposition to paying for water. Based on sixteen months of research in the informal settlement of Ezbet Khairallah in Cairo, Egypt, this article establishes that residents are, in fact, intimately aware of the material and bureaucratic realities of water systems. It is the dysfunctional system and the arbitrary payment systems that put the legitimacy of state claims into question. In this article, I argue that the Egyptian State’s focus on infrastructural legibility as a solution to payment resistance is a way to appear to address citizen concerns without accepting responsibility for continuing problems.
“A New Rural Social Contract for the Maghreb? The Political Economy of Access to Water, Land and Rural Development”
By: Annabelle Houdret, Zakaria Kadiri, Lisa Bossenbroek
Abstract: The social contract, as the basis of the relations between rulers and populations in the Maghreb region, is highly contested especially since 2011. However, the rural dimension of this phenomenon remains yet under researched. Building on related emerging critical studies, this paper coins the term of a ‘rural social contract’ and analyses what it embodies. It highlights how the unequal ownership and use of water and land resources contribute to the marginalization of the large majority of rural populations and to their growing discontent. The article argues that three trends currently contribute to the re-articulation of the social contract in rural areas. Firstly, overexploitation and climate change lead to a severe degradation of water and land resources which challenges the established patterns of use and redistribution of these resources. Secondly, agricultural policies focusing on export production and on large entrepreneurs lead to further marginalization of small farmers. Thirdly, the emergence of new rural actors challenge the established social relationships. On the basis of this analysis, the article frames the major challenges, dynamics and characteristic of a newly emerging rural social contract in the Maghreb.
“(Ground)Water Governance and Legal Development in Iran, 1906–2016”
By: Ehsan Nabavi
Abstract: One hundred and ten years after the Persian (Iranian) constitution of 1906, the country is experiencing a serious water crisis. Blame is often attributed to the government’s mismanagement. This paper aims to throw light on the water-related laws and policies throughout Iran’s history to unravel the cause of this crisis from a legal perspective. This research provides a concise review on how the state’s development policies can be read through the water-relevant laws. To this end, the study defines and explores the laws through five chronological periods: (1) Codification, (2) Fast-paced Development and legislation, (3) Development and protection, (4) Development and Justice, (5) Back-to-Development. Along with highlighting the social, political, and economic background of each period, the key laws associated with water regulation are introduced and their implications on the development policies are discussed. This historical review provides us with insights about the question of why Iran is currently struggling with multiple challenges in the water sector, which are manifested as dried out rivers, disappearing lakes, and depleted groundwater.
“Land-Water-Security Nexus: Changing Geopolitics in the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement”
By: David Ross Olanya
Abstract: This article extends the debate on the shift in water security governance in the Nile Basin countries. Water as an object of analysis was previously embedded in a depoliticized governance framework now faces politicization in the context of food, energy and climate change. In considering land-water-security nexus, population and climate variations drive Middle East and North Africa (MENA) policies for the return of the state primacy in water governance. As Egypt and Sudan maintain their dynamics of hegemony in Nile Basin countries, Gulf States however are deploying proxy water diplomacy through investment in agricultural farmlands in Nile Basin countries. Increasing number of actors alter water access and security across formal and informal domains. The Nile Basin Cooperative Agreement (CFA) remains contested between upstream and downstream riparian states as being uncoordinated water management and development policies. Incorporating market and local users beyond the state gets politicized in securing water security. In view of this, this article hence suggests that power relations are not static, but subject to the changing circumstances. Egypt’s water security would be more sustainable when it engages CFA countries in a joint coordination and development projects.
“Maṣlaḥa as Sovereignty: Fadlallah and Khomeini Compared”
By: Nachman Alexander
Abstract: This article examines how Fadlallah and Khomeini’s respective quests for sovereignty are reflected in their political thought, particularly vis-a-vis their notions of maṣlaḥa, which I define as the “common good.” I argue that if, to an extent, Islamic political thought seeks to maximise maṣlaḥa, then this can also constitute a claim to sovereignty, the definition of which remains multidimensional and contentious. By closely examining Fadlallah and Khomeini’s writings and pronouncements on governance, popular movement, and state, I attempt to reveal how discussions regarding Islamic governance demonstrate a broader claim to authority in Islamic history.
Middle East Report (Volume 47, Issue 282)
“The Thorns that Exist and Resist: Black-Palestine Solidarity in the Twenty-First Century”
By: Andy Clarno
Abstract: Not available
“Morocco’s Palestinian Politics”
By: Zakia Salime , Paul Silverstein
Abstract: You are not in Gaza, this is al-Hoceima!” This title describes a video clip of tear gas in the streets of al-Hoceima, the epicenter of the ongoing protests by the Hirak movement in the mountainous Rif region of northern Morocco.  Hirak protesters risk their lives demonstrating against corruption and for civil rights and state investment in the peripheral Berber-speaking region. Protests have been ongoing since the October 28, 2016, death of local fish seller Mohcine Fikri, who was crushed in a garbage compactor while trying to retrieve 500 kilograms of illegally-caught swordfish police had confiscated. Solidarity demonstrations spread across Morocco and the Moroccan diaspora in Europe.
“Managing Security Webs in the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Ain al-Hilweh”
By: Erling Lorentzen Sogge
Abstract: On May 31, 2017, Fatah commander Col. Bassam al-Saad was juggling three telephones—two mobile phones and one landline—at his office in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh. As the commander of the Joint Palestinian Security Force (JPSF), the defacto military police of the self-governed camp, the colonel was in the process of overseeing the deployment of his roughly 100-strong force. Entering a particularly sensitive area in the war-torn Tiri neighborhood following devastating clashes in April between the JPSF and a local Islamist group, he was also juggling the ratio of police from each political faction to ensure a smooth operation.
Oxford Development Studies (Volume 45, Issue 2)
“Diasporas and conflict: distance, contiguity and spheres of engagement”
By: Nicholas Van Hear, Robin Cohen
Abstract: Diasporas are now well-established players in the global political economy, yet their role in conflict and post-conflict settings remains controversial. Diasporas have variously been described as war-mongers, peace-builders, or ambivalent in their influence on conflict. We suggest that this variety of characterizations might be explained by disaggregating forms of diaspora engagement and the public and private spaces in which they occur into three ‘spheres of engagement’. We then go on to consider two variants of conflict-related diasporas: ‘distant diasporas’, alluding particularly to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Somalia, and ‘contiguous diasporas’, referring mainly to the Russian-speaking peoples in the former Soviet Union but also to groups like the Kurds spread across several nation-states. We show that different forms and levels of engagement generate varying levels of demand on diasporan households. Differences of wealth, resources, social capital and class also influence the capacity of diasporas to engage in conflict and post-conflict roles.
Political Science Quarterly (Volume 132, Issue 1)
“Israeli Perceptions of the Iranian Nuclear Threat”
By: Gil Merom
Abstract: Gil Merom analyzes the multiple levels of what he characterizes as an Israeli “alarmist” perception of the Iranian nuclear threat. He argues that Iran’s nuclear military program would be less of a threat than argued by the Netanyahu government and that it would not merit an Israeli strategic change, be it formally exposing Israel’s nuclear capabilities or striking Iran preventively.
Review of Middle East Economics and Finance (Volume 13, Issue 1)
“Political Stability, Firm Characteristics and Performance: Evidence from 6,083 Private Firms in the Middle East”
By: Amr Hosny
Abstract: Using firm-level data from an EBRD/EIB/WB joint survey covering more than 6,000 private firms in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa, this paper (i) examines the relationship between firm characteristics and their perception of the effect of political instability on their operations and (ii) tests whether political instability has had a negative effect on firm performance. Using ordered and binary probit/logit models, we find that (i) export-oriented and larger-sized firms are more likely to report political instability as a sever obstacle to their operations. Using OLS and an endogenous treatment linear regression models, we find that (ii) the perception of political instability is negatively associated with firm performance, and after correcting for endogeneity it can even have a negative causal effect on firms’ sales and employment growth, all else held constant. Results are largely robust to different specifications and econometric methods.
“Spatial Dimensions of Sectoral Labor Productivity Convergence in Turkey: A Spatial Panel Data Approach”
By: Tuğrul Çınar
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to investigate spatial dimensions of interregional labor productivity convergence in Turkey between 2005 and 2011 period in three sector disaggregation. We employed spatial panel data approach to investigate the absolute and conditional beta convergence. Annual gross value added per worker data has been used as labor productivity proxy for 26 sub-regions. Analysis results show us that absolute and conditional convergence is highly significant for all agriculture, industry and services sector and also in sectors total. We also found that, while industry, services and sectors total show significant spatial dependency, there is no strong evidence of spatial interaction in agriculture sector for Turkey. Structural problems of Turkish agriculture sector are considered to be the main reasons behind this finding.
“Towards Understanding Vegetables Consumption Behaviour in Iran: A Full Box-Cox Double-Hurdle Application”
By: Hatice Ozer Balli, Mohammad Amin Kouhbor, Rosmy Jean Louis
Abstract: Using Iran’s 2010–2011 household survey data on income and expenditure, this paper estimates the demand for vegetable consumption. Based on the Vuong’s (1989) Likelihood Ratio Test for Model Selection and Non-Nested Hypothesis, a full Box-Cox double-hurdle model adjusted for heteroskedasticity, dependency, and normality was estimated to uncover factors underlying Iranian households’ decisions to purchase and consume vegetables. Results show that all demographic, socioeconomic, and geographical variables significantly explain vegetable consumption behaviour in Iran. A positive relationship exists between educational attainment and the decision to purchase and consume vegetables. As well, households’ size and average age exert a statistically significant positive effect on vegetable consumption.
“Children’s Gender and Men’s Income: Evidence from Iran”
By: Hossein A. Abbasi, Seyed M. Karimi
Abstract: In many societies, men work for more hours and acquire higher wages if they have sons versus daughters. Gender bias, higher returns to male children’s human capital, and higher costs of raising male children are hypothesized to explain this behavior. Among these, gender bias has received stronger support from empirical studies. Using a four-year panel dataset, we show that a different institutional setting may make men respond to their children’s gender differently. We study men’s income in a dotal society, Iran, where families are expected to provide dowry for their marrying daughters. We show that, in contrast to the findings in developed countries, Iranian men earn more income when they have daughters versus sons, and we argue that the institution of marriage is the major reason for this unconventional finding.
The American Journal of Economics and Sociology (Volume 76, Issue 2)
“The Soviet-Afghan War in Fiction”
By: Tom Secker
Abstract: Fictionalized accounts, particularly feature films, about the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s have played a significant role in shaping public opinion about the history of the region and issues related to Islamic militancy. Novels and films in the West have portrayed the Soviet army as brutal and genocidal and the mujahideen who resisted the invaders as “freedom fighters.” Russian movies have also portrayed the soldiers in a somewhat negative light and the mujahideen as evil terrorists. No fictional treatment has provided enough background to the conflict to reveal that the Russians entered Afghanistan only to provide support to a communist regime that had gained power on its own, and none have revealed the extent of aid from the United States, the United Kingdom, Iran, Pakistan, and China to the mujahideen. The CIA sponsored Charlie Wilson’s War, the movie that comes closest to capturing the larger context of the war, but even in that case, crucial elements were removed from early drafts of the script that presented a more complex and accurate picture of the war. In particular, movies have failed to explore the possible links between U.S. support for mujahideen in the 1980s and violent attacks by Islamic extremists since 2001. The one exception is Charlie Wilson’s War, where changes to the script had the result of downplaying and trivializing those links.
The Arab Studies Journal (Volume 25, Issue 1)
“Making Ordinary: Recuperating the Everyday in Post-2005 Beirut Novels”
By: Ghenwa Hayek
Abstract: Not available
“Arab Students, American Jewish Insecurities, and the End of Pro-Arab Politics in Mainstream America, 1952-1973”
By: Geoffrey P. Levin
Abstract: Not available
“Wayn al-Dawla?: Locating the Lebanese State in Social Theory”
By: Jamil Mouawad, Hannes Baumann
Abstract: Not available
“The Gemmayzeh Incident of 1949: Conflict over Physical and Symbolic Space in Beirut”
By: Dylan Baun
Abstract: Not available
“On Deference and Benevolence: The Politics of Parking in Beirut”
By: Samar Kanafani
Abstract: Not available