[This is a bouquet installment of our Essential Readings (ER) series. Individual ERs provide annotated lists of works on a specific geographic, temporal, and thematic subjects. The bouquet builds on this series by grouping those ERs related to a specific place or topic. In the below, we offer three ER bouquets, one on each of women & gender, migration, and the Arab uprisings. Each bouquet lists and briefly describes the Essential Readings installments it groups. Happy reading!

Women and Gender

Women’s and Gender History
 by Judith Tucker

Gender and Empire by Wilson Chacko Jacob

Marriage in the Middle East by Jeffery Fitzgibbons


The Essential Readings bouquet on the topic of Gender includes three signal compilations from leading scholars in the field. Each Essential Reading acknowledges the political contexts that shaped the scholarship as part and parcel of highlighting the arc of the scholarly field.  Judith Tucker highlights the rapid shifts and developments of the field of Women’s and Gender History, by focusing on five specific facets: women’s movements, gender and nationalism, Islamic law and gender, family history, and sexuality and the body. Wilson Chacko Jacob notes the “newness” of the field of Gender and Empire from just a few decades ago, and compiles resources that extend beyond the study of masculinity and gender to include works on women, colonialism, and homosexuality. In Marriage in the Middle East, Jeffery Fitzgibbons provides an extensive overview of key historical, sociological, legal, anthropological, and ethnographic approaches to the study of marriage, and marital practices, in the region.


Emigration from the Levant
 by Stacy Farenthold

Palestinians in Latin America by Marwa Janini

North African France by Paul Silverstein

Migration and the Gulf by Pardis Mahdavi


The Essential Readings bouquet on Migration departs from the oft-discussed patterns of migration in the Middle East, instead delving into an overview of migration, emigration, and immigration outside the region, drawing out theoften underserved stories and experiences of migrants in different parts of the globe. In Emigration from the Levant, Stacy Farenthold focuses on scholarship concerning  migration from the Mashriq (the eastern Mediterranean lands under Ottoman sovereignty) to the mahjar (diaspora) in the Americas, West Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, from the late nineteenth century through the interwar period. In Palestinians in Latin America, Marwa Janini notes that among the groups of “migrant” Palestinians which include internally displaced persons, refugees in exile, and Palestinians who have emigrated from their homeland to countries outside of the Middle East, this third group is one that is largely under-studied and un-accounted for in discussions of Palestinian national identity. Janini focuses on scholarship that exposes reasons for why this group of Palestinians has been excluded from Palestinian historiography while highlighting their significance as shapers of Palestinians nationalism, Middle East politics, and Latin America. North African France refocuses our attention to Middle Eastern and particularly Maghrebi diasporas in a former colonial power. As Paul Silverstein notes, such a focus “offers a particularly rich case of thriving diasporic communities.” In Migration and the Gulf, Pardis Mahdavi focuses on works on labor, distinguishing this group  from the larger corpus of migration scholarship, in that they“challenge the artificial divide between ‘forced’ and ‘voluntary’ labor/migration.”

Levantine History

Reading Lebanon
 by Maya Mikdashi

Hashemite Rule in Jordan by Pete Moore

History of Famine the Modern Middle East by Melanie Tanielian

Levantine Mandates by Michael Provence


The Essential Readings on Levantine History bouquet highlights the innovative ways scholars of the Middle East consider the history of a place. One of the first Essential Readings to be published, Maya Mikdashi’s Reading Lebanon offers a broad overview of works from primarily anthropologists and historians, each highlighting central topics in the genesis of modern Lebanon. Alternatively, Pete Moore’s examination of Hashemite Rule challenges simplistic narratives of the rise and survival of the regime in Jordan by bringing together texts that highlight geopolitical, institutional, and socio-economic dynamics behind the monarchy. Melanie Tanielian’s History of Famine in the Modern Middle East grounds conversations around the famine in Greater Syria during WWI within theoretical works on famine as well as a longer history of famine in the region. She asks powerful questions about how we might study historical famines while contending with those occurring now. In Levantine Mandates, Michael Provence details how successive generations of historians have contended with the European colonial division of the Levant; he lauds the important interventions of newer works while reminding readers not to ignore the contributions of older studies.

The Arab Uprisings

Uprisings, Resistance, and Popular Mobilization in the Middle East and North Africa
 by John Chalcraft

Uprisings, Resistance, and Popular Mobilization by Asef Bayat

The Syrian Uprising by Raymond Hinnebusch

Media and the Arab Uprisings by Hatim El-Hibri, Rayya El Zein, and Marwan Kraidy


Since the 2011 Arab uprisings, a wave of publications on revolt and revolution in the Middle East have left the presses. The influx was both a blessing and a curse, offering some stunning new contributions, while also flooding the shelves with studies lacking nuance, historical grounding, or theoretical depth. Luckily, we have had a handful of outstanding scholars to help navigate readers through the uneven terrain. John Chalcraft’s Uprisings, Resistance, and Popular Mobilization in the Middle East and North Africa covers insightful case studies and more comparative texts (both sets featuring a range of theoretical frameworks) that ground contemporary discussions. Asef Bayat’s Uprisings, Resistance, and Popular Mobilization focuses on the intertwining theoretical trajectories for thinking about subversion and revolt across the region. Raymond Hinnebusch offers a much-needed account of the state of publications on the specific case of The Syrian Uprising. He breaks down some of the most critical works into disciplinary categories. Finally, Hatim El-Hibri, Rayya El Zein, and Marwan Kraidy’s Media and the Arab Uprisings explores the media landscape of the 2011 uprisings in the context of larger theoretical questions about the mediation of subversion and disobedience. Their list helps rescue the topic from knee-jerk responses that preached forms of techno-exceptionalism to the uprisings.