[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the fifth in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise three to four parts, depending on the number of articles included.]

Anatolian Studies (Volume 68)


The beginning of herding and animal management: the early development of caprine herding on the Konya plain, central Anatolia

By: Caroline Middleton

Abstract: Little is known about the initial appearance of herding in central Anatolia. Although morphologically domestic caprines are present from the foundation of Çatalhöyük East, ca 7,100 cal. BC, how and when domestic caprines became an integral part of the central Anatolian economy, and their Status and relationship with earlier communities, is unclear. This article reports the results of a study in which carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes were used to provide signatures of caprine diet and thus pasturing practices; as an animal’s movements are affected by human Intervention, changes in animal diets should be visible through changes in δ15N and δ13C levels. A sequence of seven sites on the Konya piain, covering the period ca 9,000–4,500 cal. BC, provided bone samples for carbon and nitrogen analysis. An unaffected local dietary signature for caprines was created using the fauna from Epipalaeolithic Pınarbaşı and a C3/C4 plant baseline. This dietary signature, along with dietary information from the domesticated caprines at later sites, allowed changes in diet resulting from human Intervention to be mapped. Changes in diet are found to have occurred at sites where there is no morphometric or demographic data suggestive of early herding or domesticates. This new dietary data extends our knowledge and under-standing of how and when caprines and cattle came under human control on the Konya piain, central Anatolia.

A possible new Bronze Age period at Troy

By: Donald Easton, Bernhard Weninger

Abstract: Statistical analysis of Carl Blegen’s pottery sequence using Correspondence Analysis (CA) suggests a gap of 100–200 years between his Troy III and IV periods. From the Manfred Korfmann excavations three stratigraphic sequences hitherto assigned to Troy IV and V appear to bridge it. This allocation is based on stratigraphic/architectural grounds and on the observable development in ceramic shapes and wares. Heinrich Schliemann’s pottery sequence from 1870–1873 is also analysed by CA and found to compare well with Blegen’s (with limited exceptions probably due to the larger scope of his excavations), but it does not exhibit the same gap. This suggests that during the ‘bridge’ period occupation shrank to the summit on the western end of the citadel mound. This ‘bridge’ period of seven or more building phases has a distinctive ceramic assemblage and may be called the Proto-IV period. It is broadly contemporary with Middle Helladic I, Beycesultan VIII–VI, Küllüoba II and the Tarsus Early Bronze to Middle Bronze transitional period. Careful re-evaluation of the radiocarbon evidence dates it to ca 2150–1990 cal. BC. Botanical and faunal evidence from the strata in question attests significantly drier climatic conditions which, together with the smaller size of the settlement, probably reflect the 4.2ka cal. BP climatic deterioration.

Neutron activation analysis of Aegean-style IIIC pottery from the Goldman excavations at Tarsus-Gözlükule

By: P.A. Mountjoy, H. Mommsen, A. Özyar

Abstract: The appearance of Aegean-style IIIC pottery at Tarsus occured at a time of unrest and of movement of peoples resulting in part from the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces on the Greek mainland. Mycenaean Late Helladic IIIB pottery exports from mainland Greece to Cyprus and the Levant disappeared and were gradually replaced by local imitations. Eventually Aegean-style IIIC pottery appeared in the East Aegean-West Anatolian Interface, in Cyprus and at various sites on the southern coast of Turkey and in the Levant. It was not exported from the Greek mainland, but seems to have been locally made at each site. A first series of neutron activation analysis (NAA) was carried out on pottery from Tarsus to determine how much of the Aegean-style 12th-century BC pottery was locally produced, how much was imported and, if imported, from whence it came. The favourable results of this first analysis gave rise to a second NAA of more Aegean-style pottery from Tarsus, bringing the total number of pieces analysed to 67. It has confirmed the local production of the pottery; the chemical group TarA is the dominant local group at Tarsus, comprising a third of the samples. A smaller group, TarB, may also be local. The analysis revealed a large number of Aegean-style IIIC imports from Cyprus from several different sites; these make up a quarter of the samples. There are a few imports from other areas, including the East Aegean-West Anatolian Interface. Influence from both Cyprus and the Interface can also be seen at Tarsus in the use of some shapes and motifs. A comparison with 12th-century BC imports identified by NAA at the site of Tell Kazel (ancient Simyra) in Syria directly east of Cyprus shows imports from the same two areas.

Phrygians east of the red river: Phrygianisation, migration and desertion

By: Geoffrey D. Summers

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to suggest mechanisms pertaining to the foundation of a new city on the Kerkenes Dağ, in the highlands of central Anatolia in the mid-first millennium BC. Archaeological evidence that Kerkenes was a new foundation is discussed, after which its thoroughly Phrygian culture is outlined. The core of the paper discusses possible explanations for the unexpected appearance of this new capital. Possibilities include Phrygianisation or acculturation, centralisation of pre-existing Phrygian settlements east of the Kızılırmak, eastward expansion of the Kingdom of Phrygia and a large migration from central or western Phrygia. It is proposed that a single large migration provides the most plausible explanation for the founding of the city, for the display of its Phrygian-ness and perhaps also for its ultimate failure.

An Anatolian-Persian tomb relief from Gökçeler in Lydia

By: Figen Çevirici-Coşkun

Abstract: The relief block at the centre of this study was found in 2004 in a ploughed field in the northern region of Lydia near the village of Gökçeler in the district of Akhisar, in what is today the Manisa province. A standing male figure is depicted on the block, which probably belonged to a chamber tomb. Holding a cock and a bud in his hands, stylistically the figure points to a date between the late sixth century BC and the early fifth century BC. He has short, spiral curls and wears a long-sleeved, tight-fitting garment that appears to be influenced by the Persian style. Within the scope of Anatolian-Persian funerary reliefs, this example is particularly significant due to its typological and iconographical elements. Specifically, following comparisons with other works of the Persian period, it is possible to suggest that the figure on the Gökçeler relief is an African who is offering a gift to the tomb owner; the latter may have been Persian or have served a Persian. Thus, this relief has particular significance since it is the only known work of Anatolian-Persian sculpture which indicates that individuals of African origin lived in the Anatolian region under Persian rule.

Rome and the Tzani in late antiquity: a historical and archaeological review

By: Emanuele E. Intagliata

Abstract: Compared to other stretches of the eastern frontier, northeastern Anatolia has rarely attracted the attention of scholars of the Roman and late antique periods. The region is known, through late antique written sources, to have housed a belligerent confederation of tribes, the Tzani, who lived off raids conducted against their neighbours. Until the fifth century AD, the Roman approach to the Tzanic problem was one of quiet co-existence, but, in the early sixth century AD, after war broke out again with Persia, necessity moved the emperor Justinian (r. AD 527–565) to intervene more actively against the Tzani. According to the sixth-century historian Procopius, the Tzani were subdued and a chain of forts was constructed in their lands to protect access to the Black Sea coast. The remains of these forts, as well as those of other sixth-century AD infrastructure allegedly built under Justinian, are still elusive. Nonetheless, evidence on the ground and in the written sources can still help investigate the nature of the Justinianic frontier defensive system.

An analysis of Byzantine burials from Hacımusalar Höyük (Turkey)

By: Carrie L. Sulosky Weaver

Abstract: The contents of 118 inhumation burials (seventh to 12th century AD) excavated at Hacımusalar Höyük (ancient Choma) were studied in order to reconstruct the Byzantine population. Overall, the sample is similar to that of other Byzantine populations: burial customs appear typical of contemporary practices, children are overrepresented, males and females are represented roughly equally and heights fall within the average range calculated for Byzantine individuals in the eastern Mediterranean. Individuals from Hacımusalar experienced incidences of skeletal trauma, infections, degenerative joint disease, anaemia, dental diseases, spina bifida occulta and cancer. The dataset presented here is one of the most comprehensive of any Byzantine population in Anatolia and should advance our understanding of the region during this crucial time period.

Taphonomies of landscape: investigating the immediate environs of Çatalhöyük from prehistory to the present

By: Mark P.C. Jackson, Sophie V. Moore

Abstract: The landscape immediately surrounding the site of Çatalhöyük preserves topographic and ceramic evidence dating from prehistoric times to the present day. This article presents the results of a programme of investigation of the landscape conducted through analysis of remote-sensing, map and field-survey data, with particular emphasis on the first and second millennia AD. The concept of taphonomy, usually defined in archaeology as the process of change after deposition, is applied to the transformation of the settled landscape from its Neolithic origins to its present status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Taphonomy serves as a linking concept as we explore how past landscapes are mobilised and translated into the ever-changing present.


Arab Law Quarterly (Volume 32, Issue 3)


Tier 2 Capital Instruments under Basel III: A Sharīʿah Viewpoint

By: Madaa Munjid Mustafa; Beebee Salma Sairally, Marjan Muhammad

Abstract: Basel III has redefined the criteria for regulatory capital instruments. Accordingly, Islamic banking institutions (IBIs) have to consider the issuance of instruments that would meet both the objectives of Basel III and Sharīʿah requirements. This research particularly aims to compare the regulatory requirements for issuing Tier-2 (T2) capital instruments as defined by Basel III, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and IFSB-15. In this regard, the research examines the Sharīʿah issues related to subordination and conversion arising in exchange-based contracts (such as murābaḥah and iǧārah ṣukūk) and equity-based contracts (such as muḍārabah and wakālah ṣukūk). The study relies on library research to collect secondary data in the form of classical works of Islamic jurisprudence, analyses such work and links it with the present day regulatory requirements. The study finds that there are Sharīʿah concerns over the use of exchange-based contracts. However, the use of convertible muḍārabah and wakālah ṣukūk could be justified.

Constitutionalisation of International Human Rights Law in the Jurisprudence of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court

By: Islam Ibrahim Chiha

Abstract: This article examines the status of international human rights law in the Egyptian legal system and investigates how Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) uses international and foreign law in its constitutional interpretation of fundamental rights and freedoms. I argue that integrating international human rights law into the jurisprudence of the SCC is imperative both for protecting the rights and freedoms of Egyptian people and for resolving potential conflicts between national law and international law. I rely on cases covering rights to marriage, development, education and equality (especially for persons with disabilities).

The Role of the ‘al-Ġobn’ Imbalance in Strengthening Arab Consumers: The Significance of the European Approach

By: Mohammed Ali Ibrahim

Abstract: The concept of imbalance, al-ġobn, is a decisive factor in protecting consumers. In addition to consumer protection regulations, imbalance as a traditional defect in contracts (not in will) in Egypt and Syria is a cornerstone of increasing protection. However, the concept has not been developed and remains limited to certain occasions, mainly exploitation. Therefore, it is useful to examine imbalance in modern consumer laws in developed countries (e.g. in European consumer law). We first compare the perspectives of both traditional and European laws. Then we examine the interrelationship between both perspectives by demonstrating how the traditional defects of will became a source of imbalance rather than being limited to exploitation only. The conclusion thus reconsiders the concept of imbalance shifting to increase consumer protection in Arab countries, even though it may not be included in any separate legal instrument (e.g. in consumer-protection acts).

Analytical Study of United Arab Emirates Copyright Federal Law No. 7, 2002

By: Fayez Al Nusair, Firas Massadeh

Abstract: This article presents a comprehensive examination and analysis of copyright protection under the provisions of the United Arab Emirates’ Federal Law No. 7, 2002 concerning copyrights and neighbouring rights in preparation for the accession of relevant international conventions. The law revoked Federal Law No. 40, 1992 regarding intellectual property copyright. The nature of copyright and its economic justification, the scope of its protection in the United Arab Emirates’ legal framework, the concepts of originality and creativity, and the author’s moral and economic rights are scrutinized in comparison with the provisions of related international intellectual property treaties and conventions (i.e. the TRIPS Agreement and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1886, last revised in Paris, 24 July 1971).

Parody in Copyright Laws of GCC States: Where Does It Fit?

By: Hanan Almawla

Abstract: The relationship between parody and copyright law has not been discussed in the copyright laws of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) or in Arab states in general. Nevertheless, in the past ten years, there has been a remarkable increase in parody shows and programmes in the region, triggering the question of copyright infringement. This article therefore examines the position of parody in the copyright laws of GCC states. It considers protection of parody − as an expressive tool − under the principle of freedom of speech. As no explicit statutory or judicial guidance in relation to parody in the current national copyright laws of GCC states is found, this article argues that parody should be explicitly recognized in the copyright laws of GCC states.


Arab Media & Society (Issue 26)


Egyptian Youth: Networked Citizens But Not Fully Engaged Politically

By: Naila Hamdy, Mohamed Gameel

Abstract: One lesson learned from Egypt’s 2011 uprising was that young people are highly active politically as witnessed by the emergence of the networked young citizen. As the country became more stable it was feared that members of this participatory culture would reject formal politics in favor of alternative forms of participation or disengage all together. This article relies on a survey of representative youth, to seek answers to questions about their political involvement. The findings indicate that Egyptian youth are active, in online political participation, albeit more cautiously. They are also engaged with formal political participation and civic engagement.

Mohammed Assaf’s victory five years on: Arab Idol and the Zionist colonization of Palestine

By: Louis Brehony

Abstract: This essay, based on the author’s fieldwork on Palestinian music and oral history, examines the position of singer and Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf in relation to the contemporary Palestinian struggle and the wider play of power in the Arab world. The issues discussed gravitate towards three main themes: the relationships between musicians and a liberation movement facing a crisis of leadership as Israel builds its repressive armoury. Second, the Arab Idol phenomenon as part of the growing interventionism of the Saudi ruling class in regional societies. And relatedly, the growing fissures between a Palestinian comprador bourgeoisie and the grassroots movement of the oppressed. More generally, this essay looks at the space for radical nationalist music and argues that, as in the crucial struggles for Palestine over the course of the last century, history and music will continue to be written on the streets.

Youth in Morocco: Rebels without a Cause? Youth Violence, Social Media, and the Discontents of the Moroccan Consumer Society

By: Younes Yassni

Abstract: Recently the Moroccan public had to grapple with what was perceived to be a worrying upsurge in youth crime related to Tsharmil or (cyber) bullying in the Moroccan vernacular. Mainstream media coverage of this issue ushered in an overwhelming sense of panic towards “deviant” youth that pose a serious “threat” to public law and order. By addressing the issue of Tsharmil, this article aims to go beyond the infotainment and politics of fear that have informed mainstream Moroccan media reports, which have failed to capture the complexities and ramifications of this phenomenon. Far from being a sudden, unwarranted outbreak of violence instigated by youth bullies, it is a strong indication of the emergence of a youth subculture where new modes of “marginal” practices, identities, solidarities, and visibilities have become inextricably woven into a rising consumer and brand culture. By looking specifically at Facebook pages devoted to Tsharmil and conducting formal interviews with members of the Tsharmil movement, this article argues that social media has provided youth with possibilities for the articulation of new practices, imaginaries, and identities in the face of a marginalizing consumer culture that has pushed youth to the ranks of flawed, disenfranchised, and frustrated consumers unable to fully partake and indulge in consumerist lifestyles.

New Media, New Audiences: Charting the Rise of Spiritual and Religious Music in Egypt

By: Hend El Taher

Abstract: Music is the language that everyone understands. As an element of culture, music evolved with the development of civilizations. Some of the religious subgroups produced a unique type of music that echoed in the Arabian Peninsula as well as nearby civilizations, such as Andalusia and Persia. This type of music has survived over the centuries. Nowadays, spiritual music is very popular in Egypt, particularly among youth. New trends like the Egyptian Mawlawya are gaining popularity. Concerts are sold out, hundreds of thousands watch religious and spiritual music on YouTube, and most contemporary pop music singers have at least one religious song. The purpose of this research is to understand whether this surge in popularity has depended more on the needs of audiences or the digital media that has made it more accessible. With this in mind, this study poses two questions: Why have spiritual and religious music recently become widely appealing to Egyptian audiences? And, do media play a role in their popularity?


British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 45, Issues 4 & 5)


State and non-state interactions in International Relations: an alternative theoretical outlook

By: Marianna Charountaki

Abstract: This paper offers an alternative theoretical outlook informed by empirical findings. It suggests the need for a ‘Grand Theory’ in response to critiques as to whether the International Relations discipline is able to explain the contemporary global order. Existing theories and their strands, along with critical meta-theories, might have proved valuable as tools for approaching specific phenomena. Yet, the main schools of thought appear neither to give adequate coverage –empirically or theoretically –of the state-non-state interactions, nor between non-state entities. The merging of the internal and the external, the intensification of globalization, and the diffusion of power to multiple actors have made it clear that I.R. theory no longer concerns only interstate relations. The study suggests that I.R. needs to go beyond the existing paradigms that are either agent- or structure-oriented and find its remedy first in the identification of the ontology as the basis on which a holistic approach could be developed. While the international relations system remains traditionally state-centric, this work argues that non-state actors also contribute to its shaping and can stand as powers in their own right. Therefore, the paper builds on comparative studies, with a focus on the Kurdish case as a useful multidimensional exemplar.

The A.K. Party and the Kurds since 2014: a discourse of terror

By: Natalie Martin

Abstract: This article will examine A.K.P. (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) discourse surrounding ‘terrorism’ and political violence in Turkey since 2014, concentrating on issues pertaining to the Kurdish question. It explores whether the Turkish government has used its state powers for countering political violence to neuter political opposition in various forms. It analyses the public discourse of the A.K.P. elite to argue that the Turkish government has redefined ‘terrorist’ to mean ‘opponent’. This highlights a discursive strategy of associating perceived threats—the P.Y.D. (Partiya Yekitiya Demokrat), the H.D.P. (Halklarin Demokratik Partisi), Academics for Peace and Amnesty International—with terrorist actors: the P.K.K. (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan) and Islamic State (I.S.). Taking a critical theoretical approach using securitization theory it explores the underlying power structures at play within this scenario to argue additionally that having initially de-securitized the role of I.S. in Turkey the A.K.P. has, since 2015, re-securitized I.S. for its own purposes including the ongoing delegitimization of its opponents. Ultimately, the widening and apparent malleability of the ‘terrorist’ label in Turkey should be seen as both a symptom of the country’s authoritarian drift since 2007 and a means of sustaining it further.

Contextualizing the Kurdish national project: the failed Iraqi nation-state thesis

By: Ofra Bengio

Abstract: This article seeks to analyse the rise of Kurdistan in Iraq within the context of a panoramic picture of Iraq’s history by contrasting two schools of thought regarding this country’s failed system. One school of thought puts the blame on incompetent Iraqi rulers but mainly on the British colonialists who with their misdeeds, mismanagement and selfish interests brought Iraq to its present situation of a failed state. The other school of thought argues that Iraq’s problems are structural, resulting from the fact that Iraq was an artificial creation; that Iraqi nationalism never struck roots in Iraqi soil; and that primordial loyalties have never disappeared so that in times of crisis they came to the fore. Indeed, there may be a middle ground between the two schools, suggesting that the combination of the unique nature of Iraq and the mismanagement by outside forces joined together to bring about the fatal outcome. My argument is that from the very inception of the Iraqi state there were two competing national movements, Iraqi and Kurdish, that could not coexist except by the central government’s use of force. Once the latter weakened, the Kurdish national project could flourish and vice versa.

The paradox of the Iraqi Kurdish referendum on independence: contradictions and hopes for economic prosperity

By: Fahrettin Sumer, Jay Joseph

Abstract: The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (K.R.I.) experienced economic prosperity following the years of the U.S. occupation in 2003. In 2005, the region attained its semiautonomous status, and up until 2014 benefited from its constitutionally mandated share of the central budget and increased foreign investment, which came primarily from neighbouring countries. The 2014 economic downturn of the region started with the halt of transfers from the central budget, deepened with the drop of oil prices and ISIS’s occupation of Mosul, and continued with the September 2017 independence referendum. Due to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (K.R.G.’s) reliance on Turkey’s oil pipeline for autonomous revenue, as well as on foreign companies to extract its oil and gas reserves, the region’s economic livelihood strongly depends on healthy diplomatic relations with neighbouring countries. These states, however, are directly opposed to the K.R.G.’s movement towards secession. After the independence vote, regional powers, along with Baghdad, adopted an aggressive rhetoric and implemented punitive measures towards the K.R.I., placing the economic interests of the K.R.I. at odds with its nationalistic aspirations. As the ramifications of the referendum continue to unfold, the Kurdish push for independence on a political basis subsequently threatens the K.R.I.’s economic prospects as well as the privileges that its citizens enjoyed with their semiautonomous region during the post-U.S. occupation period. Focusing on this period, this paradox is examined. The tension between independence and the economy is discussed, and avenues for synthesizing the multiple goals of the K.R.G. and its people are explored.

The reappearance of Kurdish Muslims in Turkey: the articulation of religious identity in a national narrative

By: Omer Tekdemir

Abstract: The Kurdish Muslim has been formed through a binary code combining attachment to the Islamic international Ummah with Kurdish local tribal (eshiri) values while Kurdish Islamic agents have been reinvigorated by an Islamic identity articulated within a Kurdish national mobilization. This inner counter-hegemonic articulation within a new antagonism has redrawn Kurdish political frontiers and Kurdish common sense. This article analyses the structure of Kurdish Islamic identity and discourse through its diverse agents in Turkey and in the Middle East in general. In probing the complex conceptual relationship between religious identity and national will, the article identifies four main actors within Kurdish Muslim politics by mapping their sub-identities and strategies to allow a detailed and critical appraisal. Moreover, it critically examines how the Muslim Kurds have (re)appeared in the Kurdish political realm as an institutional expression and re-conceptualization of collective Kurdishness in terms of Islamic values. A social constructivist approach is employed as a useful theoretical device to understand the role of Muslim Kurds and their sub-identity in Kurdish society and their relationship with the hegemonic Kurdish political movement.

The impact of the English loanwords in the Central Kurdish dialect on media discourse

By: Dashne Sedeeq

Abstract: This article deals with the frequency of the use of English and Arabic loanwords in the central Kurdish dialect. Whereas a dramatic increase in the frequency of use of English loanwords was witnessed most notably in 2005 and 2011 in response to political and economic changes in Kurdish society, this was not the case with the frequency of Arabic loanwords reduced gradually following 1992 when Arabic ceased being used as an official language in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (K.R.I.). In particular, I examine the period from 2003 to 2013 as an important era due to a series of radical changes in socio-political domains in Kurdish society that resulted in a considerable number of borrowings in the representation of political notions but also because of the Kurdish and English languages intense contact. This article will further look at phonological changes of English loanwords over a period of time as a consequence of language contact. The diachronic analysis suggests that in some cases Kurdish writers have been motivated by their desire to use a form closer to English than Arabic. Methodologically, the study is based on a systematic research of political articles published in the Xebat newspaper. Finally, the article deals with the process of orthographic adaptation of the loanwords. The results indicates that the majority of these loanwords are adapted to the structure of this dialect of the Kurdish language.

Gurani: practical language or Kurdish literary idiom?

By: Behrooz Chaman Ara, Cyrus Amiri

Abstract: The family of Iranian languages consists of several groups, of which the Kurdish language(s) is among the most diverse and problematic. Lack of authentic knowledge of the present state of Kurdish languages and, in some cases, the absence of proper methodologies are among the main obstacles in the way to proper historical study of these languages. Among the most complicated issues in Kurdish studies is Gurani. Common to most linguistic studies of Gurani is their assumption of a mass migration of the Kurds from the Caucasus and northern Iran to the central Zagros area and a subsequent assimilation of local groups including the ‘Gurāns’. We have investigated the data and the assumptions of some of the more influential researches and have attempted to shed a new light on the concept of ‘Gurani’. The outcome of this study—besides a critique of the methodology of linguistic approaches to Gurani—is the redefinition of Gurani not as a distinct practical language or dialect but as a literary idiom which, cannot be cast into any linguistic categories. It is also shown how Gurani has played a vital role in preserving and transmitting cultural data of diverse groups of people in the Zagros area.

The quality of higher education in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

By: Dawood Sulaiman Atrushi, Steve Woodfield

Abstract: The higher education (H.E.) sector in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (K.R.I.) has expanded rapidly in the last two decades, but there has been only limited quality control of the H.E. system. This exploratory study examines the perceptions of university representatives about the quality of H.E. in the Region. It explores the higher education system from the perspective of the academic staff and university leaders, with a focus on evaluating the system’s quality. The findings from the analysis of a quantitative online questionnaire survey carried out in four public universities in the region are presented and discussed, comparing the responses from different groups of respondents. The survey used closed questions, although respondents could add open-ended textual comments at the end of the questionnaire. The sample population was comprised of 703 participants, and the survey included the following dimensions of quality: teaching; leadership; facilities; funding and employability. The results demonstrate that the majority of respondents were critical of the H.E. system in the region. Only 15 per cent of respondents had positive perceptions about the current H.E. system, and more than 60 per cent were negative. Furthermore, the leadership of the universities were also dissatisfied with both the H.E. system and their own role.

Intimate politics: strategies and practices of female Mukhtars in Turkey

By: Senem Yildirim, Burcu Ucaray-Mangitli, Hakki Tas

Abstract: The dualistic separation between the public and private assumes natural and stable boundaries between these spheres. However, a perspective that relies on binaries may deprive certain groups, practices and processes associated with specific spheres from diverse experiences. For instance, women wanting to move from the private sphere and join the political public could not do that due to the domesticated nature of their roles and responsibilities. However, those who do manage to become agents of political activity do so by developing strategies and practices that are context specific. This article examines how the boundaries between the public and private are traversed in Turkish local politics through the mentioned context-specific experiences. It identifies the ways in which female mukhtars in Turkey engage in politics through practices of intimization as a political strategy, which accounts for the strategies and practices of degendering and regendering. The analysis of data from interviews with 20 randomly selected female mukhtars reveals that female mukhtars successfully navigate a versatile strategy of degendering and regendering. In this regard, they may highlight career-defined and gender-neutral attributes or valorize the masculine imperatives of the public domain. They may also affirm and assert their feminine qualities depending on the context.

Farming the desert: agriculture in the oil frontier, the case of the United Arab Emirates, 1940s to 1990s

By: Sabrina Joseph

Abstract: This article examines the social and political factors that contributed to the development of agriculture in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the 1940s onwards, expanding upon Jason Moore’s concept of the ‘commodity frontier’. Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, agricultural production emerged as a ‘secondary commodity frontier’ propelled by the primary commodity in the region—oil. The example of the UAE illustrates how the dynamics inherent in the primary commodity frontier can generate ‘secondary frontiers’. Furthermore, commodity frontiers are not necessarily exclusively motivated by market forces, as emphasized by Jason Moore. Indeed, the spread of agriculture in the UAE was not primarily tied to the export of any particular crop. Rather, the newly formed state after 1971, like colonial forces prior to this period, promoted agriculture in part to improve local people’s standard of living. Modern agriculture, furthermore, transformed local power structures and facilitated the country’s transition from a traditional to a modern state and its integration into a global capitalist economy.

Religious commitment or a textualist-traditionalist understanding of Islam? The impact of religious orientations upon social tolerance in Turkey

By: Ebru Altınoğlu

Abstract: Most empirical studies report that religious people are less likely to be tolerant in social or political life. This study, however, claims that rather than religiosity per se, adherence to a textualist-traditionalist understanding of Islam, which is based on a literal reading of the sacred texts and a heavy reliance on the tradition, and which generates timeless and absolute standards of good and bad conduct, leads to social intolerance towards members of out-groups. Religious commitment exacerbates intolerance in the case of textualist-traditionalist believers, but not necessarily in the case of non-textualists. These arguments are tested on a sample of the Sunni population from Turkey by using the July 2012 data-set of the KONDA Barometer series. The analysis points to two different mind-sets generating distinct tolerance attitudes.

Land and settlement of Israel’s Negev Bedouin: official (ad hoc) steering committees, 1948–1980

By: Havatzelet Yahel, Ruth Kark

Abstract: This study examines the development of official policy, mainly regarding land and settlement, in the three decades following Israel’s establishment, focusing on ad hoc committees appointed to deal with Bedouin issues. The majority of the committee reports included suggestions for ending disputes between the Bedouin and the State over Negev lands and/or to establish Bedouin permanent settlement. However, few of the proposals were implemented; de facto recommendations were halted before or shortly after implementation began. Based on archival documentation, the study reveals that State policy was ad hoc, inconsistent and constantly changing.

Muting the trumpets of sabotage: Saudi Arabia, the US and the quest to securitize Iran

By: Simon Mabon

Abstract: In recent years, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran has become increasingly influential in shaping the nature of Middle Eastern politics, with the two exerting influence across the region in an attempt to increase their own power and to reduce that of the other. Amidst an increasingly fractious region, this article explores Saudi Arabia’s attempts to securitize Iran to actors in the US. The signing of the nuclear agreement and the failure of the US to move beyond normal politics signal the failure of Riyadh’s efforts to securitize Iran. Understanding the nature of relationships in the region, particularly between Riyadh and Tehran and between Riyadh and Washington, helps to understand the changing nature of regional politics and ultimately, the emergence of a more pro-active Saudi foreign policy.

Turkish Islamism, conservatism and human rights before and after Gezi: the case of Mazlumder

By: Fabio Vicini

Abstract: Focusing on Mazlumder, an Islamist human rights organization, the paper sheds light on the complex articulation of Islamism and human rights discourse in post-2002 Turkey. Based on fieldwork and on the analysis of the organization’s press releases and reports on controversial public issues such as the Gezi protests, the paper argues that Mazlumder’s effort should not be read through normative lenses that reduce the issue to a matter of compatibility between Islam and human rights, and suggests that the analysis should instead take into account the positional shifts of the conservative front in relation to recent internal and external turmoil.

Ottoman commercial tribunals: closer than enemies, farther than friends

By: Ahmet Izmirlioglu

Abstract: The Ottoman commercial tribunals remain an enigma for historians. This branch of the Ottoman legal system existed throughout the Ottoman Empire for several decades as an institution of the Tanzimat reforms. This paper presents the form and function of these tribunals, as well as examples of interactions among diverse networks in the Ottoman provinces that took place within the tribunal cases. These interactions provide opportunities to investigate Ottoman resistance against European incursions into local spaces of authority. Thus, the author presents a previously unavailable perspective of provincial imperial interactions. Among other things, at the local level, commercial tribunals created previously unavailable brokerage opportunities for European and Ottoman actors by diluting the legal authority of the Ottoman centre. At the imperial level, the resulting frictions dealt a significant blow to the Tanzimat reforms by sowing discord among the Ottoman reformers and their European allies. At the least, one must reconsider the impact of these events on the consequent strains placed on the Concert of Europe, as well as their role in paving the way to World War I.

The origins of Communist Unity: anti-colonialism and revolution in Iran’s tri-continental moment

By: Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi

Abstract: This article analyses the historical emergence of the Organization of Communist Unity, which coalesced out of the National Front of Iran and its Organizations abroad. In the aftermath of the MI6/CIA-orchestrated 1953 coup d’état, a new generation of political activists left Iran for Europe and the United States to pursue their higher education. While politically active in the Organizations of the National Front Abroad, they gradually turned to revolutionary Marxism against the backdrop of the torrential waves of decolonization and resistance to imperial military interventions undulating across the Global South. This same constellation of activists was not only fiercely anti-imperialist, but also opposed any form of dependence on the U.S.S.R. or the People’s Republic of China. They would move from Europe and the United States to establish themselves in several locations across the Arab world, and pursue political activism and their advocacy of guerrilla warfare, as part of their ambition to launch a national liberation struggle against the Pahlavi regime. By examining Communist Unity’s predecessors and their manifold transnational ideological, political and logistical networks with like-minded revolutionary movements inside the Middle East, this article brings to the fore hitherto under-explored South–South connections, and situates Iran’s revolutionary opposition within the global moment of ‘1968’.

‘When you find yourself keep moving’: adapting to change in A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear

By: William Kingsbury

Abstract: In the years following the Afghan communist party’s bloody coup of 1978, Afghanistan has been devastated by conflicts that have killed and displaced millions: its people having accounted for the largest refugee group in the world during the 1990s. With his second novel, A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear, the Afghan writer and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi vividly conveys the experience of someone forced to begin life again in exile. In this essay, it is argued that, for this endeavour, Rahimi pays particular attention to the anguish and confusion caused by the loss of one’s sense of personal-identity. However, it is also argued that the author is similarly interested in the empowering aspects of such a loss; in particular, the opportunity for re-examining inherited understandings about who we are. As such, the essay explores Rahimi’s method of setting the debilitating and enabling effects of exile against one another. It concludes by maintaining that Rahimi’s intention, in doing this, is to reveal the dangers inherent in upholding too rigid a conception of personal identity; especially for those who have been divided from the land and culture of their birth.

The Kurdish question in Iran and its effects on Iran-Turkey relations

By: Bayram Sinkaya

Abstract: The Kurdish question has played a complicated role in relations between Iran and Turkey. After the emergence of modern states, Iran and Turkey were mostly preoccupied with security issues, which dominated relations between the two countries. Then, the Kurdish issue occupied a leading place in Iranian-Turkish relations either as a source of conflict, competition or as a source of cooperation. This article aims to review the Kurdish question in Iran, and influence of the Kurdish issue on Iran-Turkey relations since the ‘Islamic revolution’ of 1979. In this regard, it addresses the Kurdish question as a security issue in Iran and analyzes the Islamic Republic’s policies with regards to it. And then it turns to Iranian-Turkish relations and analyzes the role of the Kurdish question as a source of conflict, competition and cooperation between the two countries. Finally it deals with implications of the new regional dynamics of the Kurdish question and their effects on Iran’s relations with Turkey.


Contemporary Arab Affairs (Volume 11, Issue 3)


Policies and Politics Surrounding Islamic Studies Programs in Higher Education Institutions in the United StatesThe Perfect Storm in the War against Terrorism, Extremism, and Islamophobia

By: Hiba Khodr

Abstract: In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the long and checkered relationship between Islam and the West entered a new phase. The sense of suspicion and denouncement that swept through the public sphere of many European countries and the United States was accompanied by major changes in governmental policies and a shift in the politics in each country that has witnessed or suffered from the repercussions of these attacks; this has been exasperated further by the rise of Islamic State (ISIS). This study uses different types of data sources and focuses on the previous academic work on establishing institutions of higher education within an existing unique context to examine the challenges that these institutions face on both the policy and political levels due to the prevailing current geopolitical climate vis-à-vis Islam. While focusing on the present and offering some insights into the future, this paper provides a base for a more comprehensive historical overview of the main policy changes by creating a timeline of key changes in the policies and mapping the significant events that have had an impact. It is designed to investigate challenges and opportunities of Islamic higher education institutions and programs from a policy perspective and within the changing political governmental agenda specifically in the United States, and it offers a preliminary analysis of the dynamics of these evolving transformations. Considering the emerging need to revisit these institutions and the more recent recurring calls to reform existing Western Islamic studies programs, this paper fills another gap in the literature by providing some recommendations.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Conception of Citizenship Rights in Egypt

By: Khalil Al-Anani

Abstract: How do Islamist movements perceive citizenship rights, particularly in conservative societies such as the case in the Middle East? This study attempts to answer this question by examining the case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Conventional wisdom demonstrates that Islamic movements adopt illiberal views towards women and minorities, particularly non-Muslims, because of their conservative and rigid interpretation of religion. This study argues that religion is not the only factor that shapes these views. By unpacking the position of the Brotherhood towards women and Christians’ rights in Egypt, it shows that the Islamists’ conception of citizenship is driven by ideological and political considerations. It contends that the Brotherhood adopts an ambivalent and ambiguous understanding of citizenship that can be construed by three key factors: ideological stance, organizational cohesion, and political calculations.

The Authoritarian Spectrum Through the Prism of Individualism/CollectivismLessons for Political Socialization in Moroccan Society

By: Ben Ahmed Hougua, El Amine Rachid, Siyouri Hind

Abstract: The general orientation to authority in Moroccan society is associated with dynamics that characterize it at the basic social level. Respect for authority tends to take the form of a syndrome forged in the sphere of convergent styles of family, pedagogical, and professional socialization, before being expressed as political loyalty. This articulation is at the very heart of the theory of congruence developed by Harry Eickstein, and recently taken up by other political scientists. The main idea put forward by the proponents of this theory is that the stability of the government is brought to bear when the models of authority on which it rests enjoy social fascination. The purpose of this article is to study the relationship between respect for authority in the three spheres of social and political work based on World Values Survey (WVS) data on Moroccan society (N = 3651) including the family, workplace, and political world. The examination of the general configuration of the orientation to authority is parameterized according to the individualistic and collectivist profiles constructed in the WVS database, as categorical variables.

The Tunisian Revolution and the Role of Regional Development Disparities in its Outbreak

By: Riadh Béchir

Abstract: For several decades, whole regions of Tunisia were excluded from the national development process, which had focused mainly on the coastal regions. Indeed, an ongoing territorial disparity between the governorates of the country was observed. This article addresses this disparity and its relationship with the revolution of 14 January 2011.

The Experience of New Public Management and New Public Governance in Selected Arab Countries

By: Ahmed M. E. Mansour

Abstract: The major objective of this article is to discuss briefly the roots of the new public management (NPM) and public governance (PG) movements. To achieve this, it develops a theoretical framework to analyze the experiences of a selected set of Arab countries to explain critically the factors that influence the application of these two modern approaches to public-sector management in these Arab countries. Specifically, the article discusses critically the response of selected Arab world countries to the NPM and PG, and the impact of such factors on the influence of international organizations, their different colonial heritage, types of government systems, and politico-economic philosophies.

Relations Between Qatar and Saudi Arabia After the Arab Spring

By: Abdul Rezak Bilgin

Abstract: The Arab Spring initiated a new era in the history of the Middle East and significantly shifted regional dynamics. It profoundly marked the history of the region and affected relations between Middle Eastern countries. Qatar–Saudi Arabia relations have likewise been profoundly impacted by it. This study focuses on how the Arab Spring affected relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and on how the regional power struggle and rivalry between Riyadh and Doha were exacerbated during that period when disagreements and clashes escalated and deepened between both countries. It also emphasizes the causes of tensions that emerged during the period of the Arab Spring between both states. Using classical realism as a theoretical framework in approaching the issues at hand, the study begins by outlining the historical background to Qatar–Saudi Arabia relations. It then describes the policies of Qatar and Saudi Arabia towards the Arab Spring and explores the problem areas in their bilateral relations. Finally, the sanctions imposed against Qatar are also discussed.

UAE–UK Relations in the Context of BrexitAn Insight into the Opportunities and Challenges

By: Mohammed Hussein Sharfi

Abstract: The paper discusses the dynamics of current relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Kingdom (UK) and prospects following Britain’s exit from the European Union (“Brexit”). It debates their bilateral relations and policy interests in these links. The article looks at the vital role their political, economic, and security interests play in their relationship. It poses the question of whether the form and shape of relations between both countries will remain critical post-Brexit and the reasons for pursuing this policy track. It provides an overview of investment links as the UK is considered one of the primary destinations for UAE foreign investments through its sovereign wealth funds or private investors. It also examines defense cooperation between the two countries with the UAE being an important customer for the UK’s defense industry. The paper provides an insight into the opportunities and challenges Brexit could create for the UAE and the UK in the fields of economics, security, and defense. It explores the role of the European Union in the bilateral relations post-Brexit. The article highlights the importance of both countries on the world stage in the context of the UK government’s strategy to prioritize its relations with the UAE and the Gulf region.


Iran (Volume 56, Issue 2)


Nine Linear Elamite Texts Inscribed on Silver “Gunagi” Vessels (X, Y, Z, F’, H’, I’, J’, K’ and L’): New Data on Linear Elamite Writing and the History of the Sukkalmaḫ Dynasty

By: François Desset

Abstract: Nine Linear Elamite inscriptions are presented and analysed here, all written on gunagi type metallic beakers. In particular, seven of these vessels are part of H. Mahboubian’s collection in London. It is proposed that the gunagi beaker type should be attributed to the late 3rd/early 2nd millennium BC while the names of the Early Sukkalmah rulers Ebarat II and Šilhaha (twentieth century BC) can be read among the sign sequences inscribed on some of them. The paper addresses the present understanding of Linear Elamite writing, along with typological, chronological and iconographic considerations on the gunagi vessels. It then presents an analysis of the sign sequences of the nine Linear Elamite inscriptions. This analysis leads ultimately to phonetic value identifications of some of the signs. This study is followed by a technical note on the chemico-physical examination of 13 samples collected from the Linear Elamite inscribed silver gunagi vessels of the Mahboubian collection.

Conceptual Analysis of the Dove and Goat Motif on a Nishapur Pottery Vessel in Light of Roland Barthes’ Approach to Mythology

By: Hojjatollah Askari Alamouti

Abstract: The main concern of the present work was to explore “the myth of motifs” or, to put it simply, the function of the motifs on a piece of ceramic vessel from Nishapur in terms of Barthes’s mythological system. The results suggested that, granted that the Nishapur Animate Buff Ware post-dated the inscribed variety or that its production witnessed an upsurge in the fourth-century AH/tenth-century AD, the vessel under discussion, and the painted type in general, may be viewed as a medium intended to promote Iranian culture. Thus, according to the two semiological layers proposed by Barthes, two conceptual layers were identified in this ware. This observation, which also applies to related examples of this ware, gives credence to the general scholarly conception of the motifs of Nishapur ware. Their original function and stimulus, however, are to be found in the second layer. The results from the analysis of the vessel in question suggested that in the dove and goat motifs one can hunt down footprints of apocalyptic beliefs and astronomical prognostications.

Survey of the Outer-Shell Structure of the Double-Shell Discrete Nar Domes

By: Nima Valibeig, Afrooz Rahimi Ariaei, Sanaz Rahravi Poodeh

Abstract: It is assumed that the geometric form of the outer shell of a dome has an effect on the dome’s structural performance. By mathematical drawing of the arch forms used for different types of dome, it is possible to calculate their structural behaviour under different circumstances. It appears that each form of arch has different visual and structural effects and features, as well as different material requirements. The most distinctive arch, that is, Sarvak, represents very different behaviour from the other arch forms. Furthermore, variation of the thickness of the dome at higher levels has dramatic effects on level of structural stability.

Recognising Karbandi in Iran’s Architecture and a Review of its Decorative-Structural Role

By: Davoud Saremi Naeeni, Hamid Aibaghi Esfahani, Iman Mirshojaeian Hosseini

Abstract: One of the special features of Iran’s architecture is the transformation of the square base to a circle at the base of the dome which is referred to as gusheh sazi (corner construction). Karbandi is one of its variants, which also plays a role in load transfer. The aim of this paper is to study karbandi in order to recognise and review its decorative and structural functions. This is a descriptive-analytical study based on field and library information. By reviewing different samples, the authors argue that karbandi has been used not only as a decorative element but also as a load-bearing element in transforming the square base to a circle. However, this name has been used sometimes to introduce mere decorative elements which are hung from the ceiling, such as muqarnas, kasehsazi and qatarbandi. As a whole, three main categories of karbandi may be considered: (1) structural karbandi which is related to the main ceiling; (2) karbandi which is related to brickwork in lower crusts of double-shell domes and the lower cover of sloping roofs and (3) something between masonry work and finishing work in the construction which is often used in half domes in entrances, portal arches (iwan) and apses.

The Paintings of the Freer Divan of Sultan Ahmad b. Shaykh Uvays and a New Taste for Decorative Design

By: Ilse Sturkenboom

Abstract: The marginal paintings on eight leaves of the Freer Divan of Sultan Ahmad b. Shaykh Uvays (r. 1382–1410) have received a century’s worth of scholarly attention. Yet, their relationship to the Divan’s text, their positions in the manuscript and their near to monochrome execution have never been satisfactorily explained. This article untangles the different stages of the manuscript’s production and concludes that the paintings were added onto the margins around the text during the reign of Sultan Ahmad, but were part of a much more extensive plan that envisioned marginal compositions throughout the manuscript. Contrary to the suggestion that the paintings illustrate mystical stages described in ʿAttar’s Mantiq al-tayr, this article argues that the paintings bear witness to new aesthetics of the illuminated page. Ink-drawn designs of motifs and whole compositions that are now collected in albums, designs’ application as non-narrative painting in anthologies produced for Iskandar b. ʿUmar-Shaykh, and texts written onto gold-painted and tinted paper constitute contemporary comparisons that demonstrate a new taste for decorative design. These comparisons indicate that by combining single motifs in landscape settings, the Freer Divan’s paintings stood at the beginning of an enduring appreciation of monochrome designs as embellishment around written text.

Persian Paintings as Documents of Social History: Images of Craftsmen at Work

By: Richard Piran McClary

Abstract: The virtual absence of written sources about the construction process in the medieval period makes Persian paintings a useful primary source. A small sub-set of paintings depict the process of building, six of which are examined in close detail, from a broad geographic range and dating from the period spanning the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. These include a painting attributed to Siyah Qalam, paintings from Herat, and a series of images from the Akbarnameh. By taking a wide view, observations about building sites, based on multiple unconnected examples, can help to illuminate the poorly understood construction process across the pre-modern Iranian world.

Persian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire: Evidence from Greek Sacristies

By: Nikolaos Vryzidis

Abstract: Numerous examples of Persian textiles, ranging from Safavid to late Qajar, survive in Greek sacristies. Used by the Greek Church, these silks provide an overview on the consumption of Persian silks in the Ottoman Empire, especially in Greece and Anatolia. Although quite distinct from an Ottoman aesthetic, Persian silks seem to have been quite popular among Greek clerics for the making of vestments and ecclesiastical veils. While Greek Orthodox material culture was largely determined by the Church’s intermediary role as partner of the Ottoman bureaucracy, these traces of the Persian textile trade probably imply that the popularity of foreign silks in the Ottoman Empire was greater than initially thought.

The Islamic Republican Party of Iran in the Factory: Control over Workers’ Discourse in Posters (1979–1987)

By: M. Stella Morgana

Abstract: This article discusses how May Day posters, released by the Islamic Republican Party of Iran (which represented the core of Ayatollah Khomeini’s supporters in terms of state power between 1979 and 1987), started to express a new socially constructed identity for workers within the factory. By tracking hidden meanings and the particular use of visual language, it investigates why various styles and symbols were woven together. Finally, it shows – through the analysis of discourse in posters – how a process of appropriation of leftist symbols developed, in order to nullify a perceived ideological threat to the Islamic Republic, represented by both secular Marxists groups and those who, in Khomeini’s words, “mixed Islamic ideas with Marxist ideas and have created a concoction which is in no way in accordance with the progressive teachings of Islam” [Khomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah. “We Shall Confront the World with Our Ideology.” MERIP Reports (1980). doi:10.2307/3011306.].


Iranian Studies (Volume 51, Issue 5)


Citations of ʿAttār and the Kanz al-Haqāyeq in ʿAli Akbar Khatāyi’s Book of China: A Sufi Path of Bureaucracy

By: Kaveh Louis Hemmat

Abstract: ʿAli Akbar Khatāyi’s Khatāynāmeh (Book of China), a detailed description of state and society in Ming China written in 922/1516, includes citations from the Kanz al-Haqāyeq (attributed to Mahmud Shabestari) and ʿAttār’s Elāhināmeh. By citing these two texts at key points in his description of the Chinese government, Khatāyi articulates a radical political vision in which the civil officials, rather than the emperor, are the true rulers. Furthermore, by using the Kanz al-Haqāyeq as a portal text, and through frequent citations of other gnostic poetry, he crafts his own authorial presence by identifying his own text with fotovvat and gnosticism, and invokes a conceptual framework based on the thought of Ibn ʿArabi epitomized in his intertexts.

Whatever Happened to The Little Black Fish?

By: Kaveh Bassiri

Abstract: This essay uses retranslation studies to trace the defanging and domestication of Samad Behrangi’s The Little Black Fish, a children’s story once hailed as a major revolutionary and literary text. Behrangi’s book is the only modern Iranian prose work to have been translated multiple times both before and after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The study compares the texts from several of these retranslations, by considering whether they have been domesticated for their English readers, as well as their context, by looking at the cultural impact of such factors as the Islamic Revolution and US‒Iran relations. It looks at how various translators and publishers have interpreted the story and how their perspectives reflect Iranian history, the influence of Middle East studies, and the interests of the Iranian diaspora. The result sheds light on translation norms, as well as on the circulation and interpretation of Iranian literature in the global context.

The Life of the Law in the Islamic Republic of Iran

By: Reza Banakar, Keyvan Ziaee

Abstract: Beyond the esoteric deliberations of Islamic jurists and their exegesis of criminal and private law doctrines, Iranian law lives a life of its own. It is a life of routine practices of judges, court clerks, lawyers and clients, each of whom is striving to turn the law to their own advantage. It is also a life of contested legality, a relentless struggle over the right to determine the law in a juridical field which is infused with strife and hostility. These conflicts are reproduced daily as two competing conceptions of law, and their corresponding perceptions of legality clash in pursuit of justice. The Iranian judiciary’s concept of law, its reconstruction of Islamic jurisprudence and methods of dispensing justice, which on the surface are reminiscent of Max Weber’s “qādi-justice,” collide with the legal profession’s formal rational understanding thereof. However, Iranian judges are not Weberian qādis, and the legal profession is not a homogenous group of attorneys driven by a collective commitment to the rule of law. To understand their conflict, we need to explore the mundane workings of the legal system in the context of the transformation of Iranian society and the unresolved disputes over the direction of its modernity.

Heritage Learners’ versus Second Language Learners’ Source of Errors in Advanced-Level Writing: Case of a Persian Media Course

By: Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi

Abstract: This paper examines the acquisition particularities of advanced-level students. It also investigates the use of content-based—in this case media material—in teaching advanced-level students, as well as the impact of teaching such material on the students’ writing ability and overall proficiency. Finally, the subtle differences between heritage learners and second language learners are analyzed and discussed. Therefore, this research encompasses both a quantitative and a qualitative study of the issue at stake to ensure reliability of the findings. The results of the study suggest that there is no significant difference between the number of errors made by heritage learners and second language learners; however, the sources of these errors are often different. These sources of error and their possible reasons are discussed in this paper.


Journal of Arabic Literature (Volume 49, Issue 3)


The Arabic Adventures of Télémaque: Trajectory of a Global Enlightenment Text in the Nahḍah

By: Peter Hill

Abstract: The Marquis de Fénelon’s internationally popular didactic narrative, Les aventures de Télémaque, went through a remarkable number of metamorphoses in the Nahḍah, the Arab world’s cultural revival movement of the long nineteenth century. This article examines two early manuscript translations by Syrian Christian writers in the 1810s, the rhymed prose version by Rifāʿah Rāfiʿ al-Ṭahṭāwī in the 1860s; its rewriting by Shāhīn ʿAṭiyyah in 1885; and Saʿdallāh al-Bustānī’s musical drama of 1869, the basis for performances later in the century by the famous actor Salāmah Ḥijāzī. Placing Télémaque’s Arabic trajectory within its global vogue in the Enlightenment suggests ways of reading the Nahḍah between theories of world literature and ‘transnational mass-texts’, and more specific local histories of translation and literary adaptation. The ambiguity of Télémaque, its hybrid and transitional form, was important to its success in milieux facing analogous kinds of hybridity and transition—among them those of the Arab Nahḍah.

Philologesis in Adūnīs, al-Maʿarrī, al-Fārābī

By: Jeffrey Sacks

Abstract: This paper offers a reading of texts—of Adūnīs, al-Maʿarrī, and al-Fārābī—and argues that for each, however differently, language declines the Bildungs-centric terms and reading practices into which it has been conscripted in literary and colonial modernity. The article opens with Adūnīs and considers the reflection on the singular and the plural given in his poem Mufrad bi-ṣīghat al-jamʿ, framing the reflection on language and interpretation on which the remainder of the paper turns. I then offer readings of Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī’s Risālat al-ghufrān (Epistle of Forgiveness), and several of the philosophical writings of Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī, to argue that what takes place with language in these texts is recalcitrant to the understandings and practices of language privileged in the modern state form and its fallout. Because of this recalcitrance, these texts interrupt the historical and hermeneutic terms privileged in reading practices in the literary humanities. Language, in the texts I consider, becomes an event that militates against its own interpretive domestication, a form of reading that declines its coercive stabilization as a coherent temporal form—what I call philologesis. In this sense, this is also a paper about philology and its ongoing consequences—for language, for reading, and for poetics—in the modern world.

Autumn Visions: War and the Imagery of Muḥammad Khuḍayyir

By: Fabio Caiani, Catherine Cobham

Abstract: Muḥammad Khuḍayyir (b. 1942) wrote his early short stories in the aftermath of the 1967 war, while his 1980s short fiction responded indirectly to the reality of Basra during the long war with Iran. This article traces the development of Khuḍayyir’s fiction, with a particular focus on the use of imagery in a selection of his key stories from the 1970s and 1980s, some of which were re-published and re-evaluated in the 1990s and 2000s. The increasingly unconventional and oblique ways in which Khuḍayyir represents and responds to war set his work apart from both the official pro-war rhetoric promoted by the Baʿth party during its time in power, and the prevailing literary depiction of Iraq in the works of more highly acclaimed Iraqi writers publishing today.

The Politics and Poetics of Madness in Ḥasan Blāsim’s The Madman of Freedom Square

By: Khaled Al-Masri

Abstract: Iraqi writer Ḥasan Blāsim’s debut collection of short stories, Majnūn sāḥat al-ḥurriyyah (The Madman of Freedom Square), is centrally concerned with states and expressions of madness arising from the traumatic violence that consumed Iraq during, between, and after the first and second Gulf wars. The experiences of refugees and their search for asylum are frequently highlighted. Focusing on select stories, this article identifies and explores four types of madness in Blāsim’s fiction: contained madness, a structural dichotomy between madness and sanity that is established through a nested narrative structure in which a fantastical inner story is framed and retold by an apparently reliable external narrator; madness of the body, in which a traumatized character experiences a transformation, or disintegration, of his human form; gendered madness, in which madness is a response to patriarchal violence and oppression; and destabilizing madness, a subversion of contained madness in which the boundaries between sanity and madness, reality and fantasy, become indistinguishable. Drawing on theories of literary madness advanced by Shoshana Felman and others, the article argues that Blāsim’s iterations of madness and trauma serve to expand reality, rather than distort it, ultimately depicting the horror of wartime Iraq and the lives of its refugees in a way that rational storytelling simply cannot capture.


Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 14, Issue 3)


Pieces of Us: The Intimate as Imperial Archive

By: Munira Khayyat; Yasmine Khayyat; Rola Khayyat

Abstract: This article uses a multigenerational lens to address the tangible and intangible embodiments of the US-Saudi oil empire in the lives of the three sister authors. This multisited intimate geography of empire challenges national categories and recognizes that mixing and migrations, forced or desired, shape and define all families. It explores the look, feel, and sounds of lifeworlds in the US imperial outpost of Aramco using an immense archive of family photographs and Fadia Basrawi’s memoir, Brownies and Kalashnikovs: A Saudi Woman’s Memoir of American Arabia and Wartime Beirut (2009). It considers the geopolitics of oil and the worlds it produced in the intimate relations and domestic quarters of the Aramco oil camp in the 1950s and 1960s, in the authors’ childhoods in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, which also involved US imperialism, and as embodied in their lives at present.

Redefining Paternal Filiation through DNA Testing: Law and the Children of Unmarried Mothers in the Maghreb

By: Delfina Serrano-Ruano

Abstract: The social malaise produced by thousands of children born out of wedlock and abandoned is widely understood in the Maghreb. It has opened a breach in traditional Islamic legal discourses as well as social practices regarding the establishment of filiation in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. Analysis of Islamic jurisprudence and opinions, court decisions, and state laws since 1999 shows that the crisis of abandoned children combined with the biological truth revealed by DNA testing have helped produce a paradigm shift. Islamic legal opinions now argue for the need to grant paternal filiation and rights for children born out of wedlock in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Majority juristic opinions do not always determine state legal practices, and contemporary Islamic legal positions are neither monolithic nor static.

Muftis in the Matrix: Comparing Online English- and Arabic-Language Fatwas about Emergency Contraception

By: L. L. Wynn; Angel M. Foster

Abstract: English- and Arabic-language cyberfatwas on emergency contraception (EC) illuminate current debates around sexuality in the global Muslim community. In websites with fatwas about EC, there are significant differences in the way that English- and Arabic-language fatwa websites discuss this reproductive health technology. During the study period of 2016–17, English-language sites were more likely to rule that EC was not religiously acceptable, whereas no Arabic-language online fatwas declared the technology forbidden to Muslims. In contrast, Arabic questions to online fatwa sites were more concerned about whether EC would facilitate illicit sex and the health risks of contraceptives. Only English-language sites discussed the morality of pharmacists providing EC. These websites and fatwas reveal different visions of Muslims’ relationships with technology, science, and scientific experts. They also suggest the influence of non-Islamic religious constituencies on Muslim interpretations of reproductive health technologies.


Mediterranean Politics (Volume 23, Issue 3)


Building capacities, exerting power: The European Union police mission in the Palestinian Authority

By: Beste İşleyen

Abstract: This article offers a Foucauldian approach to examine the European Union Police Mission in the Palestinian Authority. Using Foucault’s ideas on ‘policing’, ‘discipline’ and ‘normalization’ and applying an interpretive approach, the article argues that the EU police mission rests on ideas, visions and techniques that problematize local capacities and skills in the policing of the population. It highlights the epistemic context of knowledge creation within which the local becomes an object of intervention through two techniques: benchmarking and capacity-building. The article also discusses what is left invisible and unaddressed in EUPOL COPPS activities.

Western Balkans and the Gulf: Interregionalism in the making

By: Nazif Mandacı

Abstract: This study presumes that recently evolving relations between the Western Balkans and the Gulf can be investigated through the neo-regionalist view in terms of a variety of facilitating factors. These give this bi-regional phenomenon the characteristics of ‘interregionalism in the making’, with visible power asymmetries. Whereas, earlier studies on newly emerging interregional relations were mostly descriptive, policy-oriented and even speculative due to the absence of empirical evidence, this study makes use of first-hand sources like print or digital media to reveal the pace and content of bi-regional relations. It is suggested that the current and prospective forms of bi-regional relations between the Western Balkans and the Gulf can be expanded through facilitating factors involving the concerns of Gulf countries to reinforce their international political profiles and establish lucrative economic partnerships

The role of human development in the transition to democracy after the Arab Spring

By: Grigorios Rapanos

Abstract: In this article, we examine how human development, as expressed by indicators, like life expectancy, infant mortality, income and gender inequality and literacy, may affect the transition to democracy of the countries that experienced the Arab Spring. More specifically, we attempt to explain why Tunisia has had a rather smooth transition from dictatorship to democracy, in contrast to other countries where the uprisings either failed or led to civil wars (Syria and Libya) or there was a return to autocracy (Egypt). Our analysis shows that Tunisia had a much better performance in all human development indicators, in comparison with the other countries, which may explain why this country has not backtracked and despite the difficulties is on the road to democracy.

A history of Turkey’s AKP-Gülen conflict

By: Hakkı Taş

Abstract: Although organized independently, both the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) and the Gülen Movement (GM) have primarily addressed the same base and acted as mediums of upward mobility for Sunni Anatolian conservatives. Targeted by the old secular establishment, AKP and GM forged a mutually beneficial relationship in 2000s, with the former’s political office reinforcing the latter’s social and bureaucratic power and vice versa. Nevertheless, with the demise of their common enemy, this marriage of convenience gradually turned into a brutal fight, as epitomized in the abortive coup of 15 July. This profile provides a critical history of AKP and GM relations, illustrating how and why the image of Gülenists has changed in AKP’s projection from a faith-based community to a terrorist organization.