[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the tenth in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise one-to-three parts, depending on the number of articles included.]
Arab Law Quarterly (Volume 33, Issue 4)
Tawarruq: Controversial or Acceptable?
By: Ahmed Mansoor Alkhan, Mohammad Kabir Hassan
Abstract: The debate about tawarruq (monetisation) has been ongoing, especially with regard to the permissibility of organised tawarruq. The majority of contemporary Sharīʿah scholars, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in 2009, ruled that organised tawarruq is impermissible according to Sharīʿah (Islamic law). Nevertheless, organised tawarruq remains a widely-used product in the international Islamic banking industry. Having reviewed the literature and reasons pertaining to the prohibition of organised tawarruq, this research article argues that the prohibition ruling may have been based on certain wrongful practices that existed in the industry, rather than on evidence provided from the Sharīʿah. This research includes empirical work that qualitatively analyses organised tawarruq transactions executed by three Islamic banks in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Using empirical data and analysis provided, this article suggests that the general practice of organised tawarruq might be permissible according to Sharīʿah.
Non-Codified Sharīʿah as a State Law Governing Islamic Banking and Finance in Jordan
By: Mohammad H. Bashayreh
Abstract: This article examines how non-codified Sharīʿah governing Islamic banking and finance agreements should be applied to ensure certainty and predictability of the applicable rulings. The significance of this topic stems from the fact that the multiplicity of schools of Islamic law or fiqh has given rise to concerns about the certainty of the applicable rules. Here we set out these concerns through the lens of English courts and argue that non-codified Sharīʿah has the status of a law in Jordan regulating Islamic banking and finance agreements. It overrides legislation and excludes Statute Law that could invalidate agreements acceptable in Sharīʿah. Further, the concepts of maṣlahah and istiḥsān are explained as bases for the selection of applicable Sharīʿah rulings. This approach ensures certainty and is better than codifying rigid rules from Sharīʿah that could impede the development of Islamic banking and finance.
International Maritime Organisation Conventions as Incorporated under Kuwaiti Law
By: Talal Aladwani
Abstract: The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is part of the UN entities. IMO Conventions focus on the human and technical aspects of shipping, including safety. Kuwait has ratified not only key IMO Conventions, but also other widely covered conventions in the fields of safety of life at sea, safe navigation, prevention of marine pollution, and third-party liability and compensation for maritime claims. This article is an attempt to address briefly the ratified conventions and their implementation (or effectiveness) under Kuwaiti law. Matters such as whether it is essential to incorporate new IMO Conventions and their amendments into Kuwaiti law will be considered.
The Role of International Agreements in Organising Tax Imposed on Intellectual Property Rights in Egypt, Palestine, and Jordan
By: Hasan Falah, Amjad Hassan
Abstract: Recognising the potential abundance of revenue and penetration of intellectual property as protected in various forms (copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial designs, technical expertise, and trade secrets), into every aspect of society, states have endeavoured to regulate and protect these rights through national legislation and international agreements that emphasise the need to organise and protect these tax rights to support cooperation and integration among countries, as well as resolving international disputes on double taxation and combating tax evasion. This Article examines existing intellectual property legislation in Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt. Legislations in these three countries have agreed to subject to tax intellectual property revenues and activities, recognising them as one of the most important sources of state income. However, Palestinian legislation has not been clear in setting laws to deal with intellectual property revenues, contrary to counterparties in Egypt and Jordan.
Arab Studies Journal (Volume 27, Issue 2)
Citizenship as Domination: Settled Colonialism and the Making of Palestinian Citizenship in Israel
By: Lana Tatour
Abstract: Not available
Dispossession and Hybridity: The Neoliberal Moroccan City In Mohammad Achaari’s Literary Enterprise
By: Mohammad Wajdi Ben Hammed
Abstract: Not available
The Hunger Economy: The Military Government In Galilee, Ramle, and Lydda, 1948-1949
By: Benny Nuriely
Abstract: Not available
Over the Top and Underground: Graphic Visualizations of Space in Magdy El Shafee’s Metro and Ahmed Khaled Towfik’s Utopia
By: Iman Hamam
Abstract: Not available
Jerry Cans and Shrapnel Collections: Using Graphic Memoirs to Teach about the Lebanese Civil War
By: Nova Robinson
Abstract: Not available
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 46, Issue 4)
Did Ibn Saud’s militants cause 400,000 casualties? Myths and evidence about the Wahhabi conquests, 1902–1925
By: Jeff Eden
Abstract: No fewer than 15 recent books repeat the claim that Ibn Saud’s militants killed or wounded 400,000–800,000 people during the Wahhabi conquest of the Arabian Peninsula between 1902 and 1925. In this paper, I uncover the origins of this disturbing statistic and challenge its validity. On the basis of primary-source data—especially the reports of British agents and observers working in the Arabian Peninsula at the time—I argue that the number of people killed and wounded during the Wahhabi conquests, while still great, has been wildly exaggerated, and I propose a more realistic casualty estimate.
A real electoral duel between the P.J.D. and the P.A.M.? Analysing constituency-level competitiveness in the 2016 Moroccan elections
By: Inmaculada Szmolka
Abstract: This article examines electoral competitiveness between the two main contenders in Morocco’s 2016 legislative elections, i.e. the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (P.J.D.) and the pro-monarchy Party of Authenticity and Modernity (P.A.M.). In contrast with electoral results at the national level, which reflect a high parliamentary competitiveness between these two parties, the analysis of competitiveness at the local constituency level (92 electoral districts) leads to quite different conclusions. The degree of local standard competitiveness between the P.J.D. and the P.A.M. was generally very low and, in most of the districts, the Islamists held a large advantage over the P.A.M. Other third parties also played a significant role and became the voters’ first or second choice in some districts, with the effect of increasing parliamentary fragmentation and decreasing competitiveness between the P.J.D. and the P.A.M. Thus, the proportional system used in a large number of districts contributed to achieving the monarchy’s aim of avoiding a predominant party. Also, the central role played by the loyalist National Rally of Independents (R.N.I.) in blocking the coalition government talks after the elections questions the idea that the Moroccan party system is becoming polarized between the P.J.D. and the P.A.M.
Persian ‘Rashti jokes’: modern Iran’s palimpsests of gheyrat-based masculinity
By: Mostafa Abedinifard
Abstract: For almost a century, a Persian ethnic joke cycle has circulated among Iranians about the men and women of the northern Iranian city of Rasht, labelling them as cuckolds and promiscuous women. A foray into the historical background and possible (gendered) functions of these jokes is long overdue. I argue that the central motif of Rashti jokes is gheyrat—a gendered social construct based on a man’s sense of honour, possessiveness and protectiveness towards certain female kin—which remains pivotal to our understanding of the texts and the historical context of the jokes. Critically reviewing extant theories on the historical origins of Rashti jokes, I argue they have roots in two modern phenomena: (a) debates among turn-of-the-twentieth-century Iranian thinkers over women’s (un)veiling; and (b) Reza Shah’s methodical promotion of an Aryanist, pan-Persian ideology. Focusing on the gender-disciplinary functions of the jokes, I then show how some contemporary Rashti jokes are deployed to project and inscribe gender-hierarchical notions that clearly surpass the jokes’ immediate, ethnic targets by commenting on broad socio-political topics. Such instances suggest that as a culture-wide joke cycle, Rashti jokes may also reinforce a form of Iranian masculinity obsessed with gheyrat-motivated control and aggression.
Colonial education and the shaping of Islamism in Sudan, 1946–1956
By: Willow Berridge
Abstract: This article assesses the role of British colonial education in Condominium Sudan in shaping the mindsets of Sudan’s first generation of Islamists between 1946 and 1956. Drawing on post-colonial theorists such as Nandy and Bhabha, it contends that the experiences of the pioneers of Sudan’s Islamic movement at institutions such as Gordon Memorial College and Hantoub Secondary School moulded their understandings of both ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’. As a result of their colonial education, Islamists deployed discourses concerning both ‘progress’ and ‘cultural authenticity’ that bore remarkable parallels with colonial essentialism, even as they announced a decisive break with the colonial past. Much like the conventional nationalists, they used the space created by the colonial educational institutions to establish an ideological community that transcended the narrow ethnic and regional divides previously fostered by the British. At the same time, Islamists and colonialists alike shared a contempt for Marxists and ‘deculturated’ effendis, and Muslim Brothers’ aspirations to escape the ‘English jahiliyya’, however counter-intuitive this may seem, bore similarities with the worldviews of colonial officials concerned with preventing what they saw to be the excessive impact of urbanization and modern education on Sudan.
Israel’s citizenship policy since the 1990s—new challenges, (mostly) old solutions
By: Assaf Shapira
Abstract: Israel’s highly restrictive citizenship policy constitutes the clearest indicator of its dominant ethnic model of citizenship. However, this policy has faced new challenges since the early 1990s, following the mass migration of non-Jewish immigrants. This paper examines and characterizes changes in immigrants’ entitlement to Israeli citizenship since the 1990s. It indicates that while Israel’s traditional citizenship policy has not undergone any significant change, two trends are evident: a much more restrictive policy towards Arab immigrants; and a somewhat more inclusive policy concerning other immigrants. To explain how these conflicting trends have coexisted, this study identifies three major characteristics of the Israeli policy: widespread use of the ‘divide and rule’ technique; managing policy through bureaucratic decisions; and the growing assimilation of liberal and republican principles into Israel’s citizenship policy, although without undermining—on the contrary, even reinforcing—the dominant ethnic model of citizenship. These findings indicate that although the dominant ethnic citizenship model in Israel remains stable, and can successfully tackle significant obstacles, limited opportunities exist for greater inclusion of specific non-Jewish populations within the Israeli polity.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Iran–Iraq war: an unconventional military’s survival
By: Maryam Alemzadeh
Abstract: As Iraqi forces invaded the Iranian border shortly after the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) participated in the battle along with the debilitated Iranian Army. The IRGC was a young religious-revolutionary institution that lacked the resources that revolutionary armies and militias conventionally rely on. Nevertheless, it survived the battle pressure and even achieved relative military successes in the second year of the war. By examining personal narratives written by Iranian veterans, this article argues that in the void of conventional resources in the first year of the war, the Guards retrieved elements of their Shia background to recognize a religiously inspired charisma in every combatant who would devotedly step up for martyrdom. This shared understanding of the omnipotent charisma was then acknowledged in action—by commanders’ deployment of it to impose order and through frequently held Shia rituals on the battlefield. It thereby created an alternative source of cohesion and motivation that led to the IRGC’s survival and prepared them for further successful steps by the end of the war’s first year.
Out of sight, out of mind: managing religious diversity in Qatar
By: John Fahy
Abstract: The small Gulf state of Qatar is today home to as many Christians, and as many Hindus, as it is Qatari citizens, making it one of the most religiously diverse states in the Middle East. A somewhat unintended consequence of the developmental trajectory Qatar has embarked on, like other emergent social realities religious diversity poses a threat to the identity of both the state and the small citizen population, and must be managed. This article explores how the state is responding to the challenge of religious diversity by looking at ‘Church city’, a recently built complex that houses several Christian churches on the outskirts of Doha. I argue that efforts to manage religious diversity are informed by notions of protection and segregation, as can be identified both in Islamic historical precedents, and in the state’s broader response to its developmental dilemma.
The good, the bad and the ugly: narrating social bonds and boundaries in contemporary Lebanon
By: Bruno Lefort
Abstract: The study of political leadership in Lebanon has most often revolved around the questions of the attributes and networks of leaders commonly considered within the frame of patron–client relations. In this empirical article, I propose to shift the focus towards the dynamics of identification at the centre of the nexus between leaders and followers. Focusing on the case of the recently elected president of the Republic, Michel Aoun, I draw on testimonies collected among his supporters to expose how his character instigates acts of affective memorialization. Voicing manifold social inspirations, both private and collective, these memory practices anchor the attachment to the leader into multiple temporalities and emphasize contrasts with alternate repulsive figures to perform social bonds and boundaries. The stories composed around this cast of characters illuminates the historical as well as emotional processes at the heart of political identification in Lebanon.
International Journal of Middle East Studies (Volume 51, Issue 4)
“EVERY SPERM IS SACRED”: PALESTINIAN PRISONERS, SMUGGLED SEMEN, AND DERRIDA’S PROPHECY
By: Mohammed Hamdan
Abstract: This paper investigates the contemporary phenomenon of smuggling sperm from within Israeli jails, which I treat as a biopolitical act of resistance. Palestinian prisoners who have been sentenced to life-imprisonment have recently resorted to delivering their sperm to their distant wives in the West Bank and Gaza where it is then used for artificial insemination. On the level of theory, my analysis of this practice benefits from Jacques Derrida’s commentary in The Post Card on imaginative postal delivery of sperm to distant lovers. I use Derrida’s heteronormative implication to examine how Palestinian prisoners defy the Israeli carceral system via the revolutionary act of sperm smuggling. The article then argues that smuggling sperm challenges the conventional gender codes in Palestinian society that see women in passive roles. Drawing on Derrida’s metaphorical connection between masturbation and writing, I problematize the perception of speech/orality as primary in traditional Palestinian culture. Women, who mostly act as smugglers, become social agents whose written stories of bionational resistance emerge as a dominant mode of representation.
QUEERING HETEROSEXUAL (INTERSECTARIAN) LOVE IN LEBANON
By: Sabiha Allouche
Abstract: This article draws on a year of ethnography conducted among cis heterosexual couples in contemporary urban Lebanon in order to argue that, in the absence of a serious project of national reconciliation, intersectarian love, despite its short lifespan, constitutes restorative instances in post–civil war Lebanon. Intersectarian hetero desire emerges as a counter-discourse that threatens the masculinist foundations of the Lebanese state. By tracing the timeline of love in the life of Lebanese citizens, this article places personal narratives of “impossible” intersectarian love stories in conversation with queer temporality scholarship in order to recognize the political, albeit limited, potential of romantic love. Here, societal expectations of married life are replaced by an ephemeral unity that operates in contra to hegemonic interpretations of “man and wife.”
MUSCULAR MUSLIMS: SCOUTING IN LATE COLONIAL ALGERIA BETWEEN NATIONALISM AND RELIGION
By: Jakob Krais
Abstract: The Islamic reformist movement in Algeria is often seen as a precursor to the independence movement, in which religion was supposedly integrated into nationalist identity politics. Focusing on the Muslim scout movements between the 1930s and 1950s, this article challenges this view by arguing that Islam continued to play a role beyond that of an identitarian marker. Influenced by Christian youth movements, the Muslim scouts developed ideas of a “muscular Islam” that remained central even after the movement split in two—one association close to the major nationalist party and another linked to the reformists.
DOCTORS WITH BORDERS: HIERARCHIES OF HUMANITARIANS AND THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR
By: Rania Kassab Sweis
Abstract: In humanitarian studies, it is typically the white western doctor who stands apart as the cultural prototype or universal figure through which global aid is delivered to vulnerable groups. This article, by contrast, examines the experiences of members of a prominent Syrian-American global medical aid organization. The members of this organization provide life-saving emergency care to millions of Syrians affected by the ongoing civil war, both inside Syria and in surrounding refugee camps. Drawing on over four years (2014–18) of intermittent interviews and observations with these doctors, I suggest that they are positioned precariously within a global “hierarchy of humanitarians” that deems their lives less worthy of mobility and protection than others. In critically analyzing the unequal politics of humanitarianism that exists around the Syrian war, this research complicates our understandings of the givers of global aid, as well as the medical humanitarian encounter itself in times of war.
THE OTTOMANS DURING THE GLOBAL CRISES OF CHOLERA AND PLAGUE: THE VIEW FROM IRAQ AND THE GULF
By: Isacar A. Bolaños
Abstract: The cholera and plague pandemics of the 19th and early 20h centuries shaped Ottoman state-building and expansionist efforts in Iraq and the Gulf in significant ways. For Ottoman officials, these pandemics brought attention to the possible role of Qajar and British subjects in spreading cholera and plague, as well as the relationship between Iraq’s ecology and recurring outbreaks. These developments paved the way for the expansion of Ottoman health institutions, such as quarantines, and the emergence of new conceptions of public health in the region. Specifically, quarantines proved instrumental not only to the delineation of the Ottoman–Qajar border, but also to defining an emerging Ottoman role in shaping Gulf affairs. Moreover, the Ottomans’ use of quarantines and simultaneous efforts to develop sanitary policies informed by local ecological realities signal a localized and ad hoc approach to disease prevention that has been overlooked. Ultimately, this study demonstrates that environmental factors operating on global and regional scales were just as important as geopolitical factors in shaping Ottoman rule in Iraq and the Gulf during the late Ottoman period.
Iranian Studies (Volume 52, Issue 5-6)
Saʿdi-ye Shirāzi and Bono Giamboni in Dialogue: A Comparative Approach to Temperance
By: Daniela Meneghini
Abstract: This article presents a study of two coeval works on morals: the first belongs to the classic Persian tradition, the Golestān (The Rose Garden) by Saʿdi (Shirāz 1210–91 or 1292); the second, Il libro de’ vizî e delle virtudi (Book of Vices and Virtues) by Bono Giamboni (Florence 1240–92), belongs to the first didactic prose in vernacular Italian. The study will specially concern the theme of temperance قناعت qanāʿat, central to both Islamic and Christian morals. An analysis is made of passages dedicated to this theme in both texts, also through comparative observations, in order to identify the approach characteristic to each work.
Compilations of the Bustān of Saʿdī in Iran, Central Asia, and Turkey, ca. 1470–1550
By: Lamia Balafrej
Abstract: This article presents two hitherto unstudied compilations of verses from the Bustān of Saʿdī. Both circulated in the Persianate world in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The article provides an analysis of the compilations’ content as well as their relation to the complete Bustān. By highlighting certain stories and themes at the expense of others, and by ordering these passages in a way that differs from the complete Bustān, each compilation transforms Saʿdī’s text into a shorter, more homogenous composition, with distinct formal, thematic, and generic qualities. The shorter compilation presents a series of aphorisms, forming a mirror for princes. The longer one offers a selection of stories and lessons and emphasizes mystical themes, including aspects of Sufi erotic theology. This article also investigates the manuscript copies of these compilations, revealing their use and transmission in Iran, Turkey, and Central Asia between 1470 and 1550.
Between Fantasy and Philosophy: Saʿdi, Translator of Voltaire’s Zadig
By: Margaux Whiskin
Abstract: Zadig ou la Destinée opens on a preface supposedly written by Sadi (sic), who seems to suggest he is the translator of the story which is to follow. The article will investigate the role played by Voltaire’s reference to Saʿdi in Zadig as an Oriental prop for the narrative’s exotic setting, but also, more importantly, as participating in its philosophical content. Travelers’ accounts had brought growing interest in Persia, and Saʿdi would not have been unfamiliar to an educated public; the Orient more generally became an experimental space for Enlightenment thought. Playing on the notion of the translator as cultural bridge, the article examines the uses Voltaire makes of Saʿdi in Zadig and whether these correlate to the eighteenth-century French reader’s perceptions of the Iranian poet.
Persian Monshi, Persian Jones: English Translations of Saʿdi’s Golestān from the Late Eighteenth to the Mid-Nineteenth Centuries
By: Pegah Shahbaz
Abstract: From the seventeenth century, Mosleh al-Din Saʿdi Shirazi (d. 1291), a key figure in Persian classical literature, became the center of Europeans’ attention: his name appeared in travelogues and periodicals, and selections of his tales were published in miscellaneous Latin, German, French, and English works. To follow Saʿdi’s impact on English literature, one needs to search for the beginning of the “Saʿdi trend” and the reasons that led to the acceleration of the translation process of his works into the English language in the nineteenth century. This article examines the role of the British educational institutions in colonial India in the introduction of Saʿdi and his Golestān to the English readership, and, in parallel, it uncovers the role of the Indo-Persian native scholars (monshis) who were involved in the preparation of translations. The article discusses how the perception of the British towards Saʿdi’s literature developed in the first half of the nineteenth century and how their approach towards the translation of the “text” and its “style” evolved in the complete renderings of the Golestān.
Beyond Orientalism: When Marceline Desbordes-Valmore carried Saʿdi’s Roses to France
By: Julia Caterina Hartley
Abstract: This article follows a thread of translation and intertextual dialogue, taking us from the thirteenth-century Persian poet Saʿdi to the nineteenth-century French poet Marceline Desbordes-Valmore. It reads Desbordes-Valmore’s poem ‘Les roses de Saadi’ (1860) with the two passages from Saʿdi’s Golestān from which it was inspired, shedding new light on the poem’s metapoetic subtext. The original Persian text is compared to two French translations that were circulating at the time when Desbordes-Valmore was writing. This analysis of the Golestān’s reception forms the basis for the argument that Desbordes-Valmore recast in secular terms Saʿdi’s discourse on poetic language, emphasizing the continuity, rather than difference, between her concerns and Saʿdi’s. The case of Desbordes-Valmore thus reveals a forgotten facet of nineteenth-century French engagements with Middle Eastern culture: one of identification and literary influence, which existed alongside the processes of “othering” for which the period is better known.
Kush-e Pildandān, the Anti-Hero: Polemics of Power in Late Antique Iran
By: Saghi Gazerani
Abstract: This study examines the character of Kush-e Pildandān, the anti-hero of the Kushnāmeh, by arguing that the protagonist of the poem represents the monarchs of the Kushan dynasty. In order to substantiate this claim, the Kushnāmeh is introduced and the process of its formation and its reflections of Kushan history are examined. Then the various components of this image of the enemy are discussed. What is revealed is a polemical strategy of creating an enemy, a unique insight into the political ideology of the Sasanian period. The study offers a glimpse into the ideological discourse of political power in the Late Antique period, and how they drew upon a shared conceptualization of the past.
The “Metal Army” of Alexander in the War against the Indian King Porus in Three Persian Alexander Books (Tenth‒Fourteenth Centuries)
By: Nahid Norozi
Abstract: The article focuses on a very particular episode of the eastern Alexander legend, i.e. the building of an extraordinary “metal army” employed by Alexander in his war against the Indian King Porus, which is present in at least three Persian accounts written between the tenth and fourteenth centuries CE: the “Book of Kings” (Shāh-nāmeh) by Ferdowsi, the “Book of Dārāb” (Dārāb-nāmeh), attributed to Tarsusi, and an “Alexander-book” (Eskandar-nāmeh) in prose copied by ʿAbd al-Kāfi ibn Abu al-Barakāt. Compared to the most remote source, the text of Pseudo-Callisthenes, and to the closest ones (the Armenian version of the fifth century, the Syriac text of the sixth‒seventh centuries, and the Hebrew version of the tenth‒eleventh centuries), it is argued that the Persian authors have not passively received the inherited materials; on the contrary, they have been able to liven up the scene of Alexander’s battle against the Indian King Porus by bringing onto the battlefield a fiery and phantasmagorical army of metal, giving us one of the more amazing episodes in the eastern legend of the great Macedonian.
The Jewish Communities of Central Asia in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods
By: Albert Kaganovitch
Abstract: When the Jews first settled in Central Asia is uncertain, but circumstantial evidence clearly indicates that this happened at least two and a half thousand years ago. In the first millennium AD, the Jews lived only in cities no farther than 750 km east of the Caspian sea (in the eighth–eleventh centuries the sea was called Khazarian). Only later did they migrate to the central part of the region, to cities like Samarkand and Bukhara. It is possible that Jews from Khazaria joined them, since they already had tight trade connections with Central Asia and China. There is no trace of evidence regarding the existence of Jews in the entirety of Central Asia in the early sixteenth century. At the very end of the sixteenth century Bukhara became the new ethnoreligious center of the Jews in that region. In the first half of the nineteenth century, thanks to European travelers visiting Central Asia at that time, the term “Bukharan Jews” was assigned to this sub-ethnic Jewish group. Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary source materials, this article aims to prove that the presence of Jews in Central Asia was not continuous, and therefore the modern Bukharan Jews are not descendants of the first Jewish settlers there. It also attempts to determine where Central Asia’s first Jewish population disappeared to.
Ibrāhīm Sulṭān’s Muṣḥaf: The Qurʾān Calligraphed by Ibrāhīm Sulṭān in the Pars Museum
By: Mohammad Sadeq Mirza-Abolqasemi
Abstract: This article presents a very rare manuscript of a Muntakhab al-Suwar (selection of Qur’anic chapters) calligraphed by Ibrāhīm Sulṭān b. Shāhrukh. This manuscript was transcribed in large format in Ramaḍān 830 AH/June 1427 AD and endowed to the holy shrine of Shāh-Chirāgh in Ramaḍān 834 AH/May‒June 1431 AD. Therefore, it is considered to be one of the last known works calligraphed by Ibrāhīm Sulṭān. It is kept in the Pars museum in Shiraz. In this article, the unique codicology and special characteristics of this masterpiece are studied, and the important historical aspects of Ibrāhīm Sulṭān and the art works attributed to him are elaborated. The style of his calligraphy will also be examined to find out the sources of inspiration for his distinct style.
The Signing of the Sino-Iranian Treaty of 1920
By: Li-Chiao Chen
Abstract: This article looks at the efforts China and Iran made towards strengthening themselves and their search for independence and integrity after the First World War. Since the nineteenth century, the two countries had been in a similar situation, under pressure from treaties and rivalries with European powers. The change of the world order brought about by the 1914–18 war created an opportunity for China and Iran to claim back their rights, such as ending extra-territoriality. After the war, the Fourteen Points drawn up by the American president, Woodrow Wilson, gave hope for China and Iran to maintain their independence and integrity. During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, China and Iran made both gains and losses. China was unable to solve the Shandong Problem but became one of the founding members of the League of Nations, while Iran did not get access to the Peace Conference but obtained Britain’s assurance of independence and integrity by signing the Anglo-Iranian Treaty of 1919, and then joined the League of Nations. China and Iran attempted to bring about cooperation between Asian countries, and therefore signed a treaty in 1920. The significance of the treaty was that the two countries agreed not to grant extra-territoriality to each other, which was what both countries were seeking to achieve at that time.
Israel Studies (Volume 24, Issue 3)
Inclusion and Exclusion in the Jokes of the Yishuv
By: Tsafi Sebba-Elran
Abstract: The article discusses popular joke cycles about American tourists and comparable “others”, published in the first decades of the twentieth century in the satirical press of the Yishuv. This rich corpus of humoristic literature, which has never received adequate scholarly attention, might shed new light on the nascent Israeli view of competing Jewish centers, and expose the difficulties that accompanied the early formation of local Israeli identity. The article focuses on the satirical expression of identity representations and images, and their affinity to different humoristic genres. It shows how parodies on pilgrimages to Israel allowed Yishuv writers to express self-criticism and mark symbolic inner boundaries, while the more universal jokes let them express ideological criticism and apparently mark symbolic external boundaries. However, since the satirical press of the Yishuv was written in Hebrew for local readerships, we can assume that its “boundary work” was aimed in each case at establishing a new social hierarchy, by setting new criteria for inclusion, and deepening readers’ solidarity and self-awareness, at the expense of similar Others from competing Jewish centers.
Jacob Gordin’s Mirele Efros in Habima on the Eve of WWII
By: Shelly Zer-Zion
Abstract: In July 1939, as the winds of war were blowing, Habima theater put on Jacob Gordin’s Mirele Efros in Hebrew. The production gained overwhelming success in the Yishuv, despite the fact that the play was perceived as the kind of Jewish exilic culture that ought to be left behind. I would like to show that this theatrical event functioned as a site-boundary work, in which the Eretz-Israeli Zionist culture of the Yishuv was interwoven with the original Eastern European Jewish culture of the majority of the Yishuv’s population. This boundary work enabled the audience to conduct a bi-directional cultural move: to absorb and legitimize Eastern European Jewish culture on the one hand, and to enable its adaptation to the Zionist ethos, on the other.
A Hebrew Community in a Mixed City? Acre during the British Mandate
By: Anat Kidron, Shuli Linder-Yarkony
Abstract: The article deals with the attempt to establish a Jewish-national community in Arab Acre during the Mandate period, and the reasons for the failure of this attempt. This community has eluded Zionist historiography to date, because of its short lifespan and because it ultimately did not have a significant influence on the development of the map of Zionist settlement in the area. The few historiographic references to this community related its failure to survive mainly to the deterioration of relations with the Arabs and the events of 1929 as a turning point. The article adopts an intra-Jewish perspective and seeks explanations of the weakness of the community in its shaky organizational and social structure, and its complicated relationships with the Zionist organizations and their policy. The story of the Acre community serves as a test case for attempts at settlement in Arab cities, particularly those in outlying areas. It also reflects the dwindling of the Sephardic, Non-Zionist communities and organizations in the Yishuv, as well as the complicated relationships of the periphery of the Yishuv with the Zionist organizations and the main Zionist narrative.
The Druzification of Arab Christians in Israel in The Wake of the “Arab Spring”
By: Yusri Hazran
Abstract: Examining the implications of the “Arab Spring” for Arab Christians in Israel, this paper argues that Israel has sought to exploit its chaotic and anarchic effects in order to promote, not only a recruitment project among Arab-Christians, but to iterate the “Druzification policy” toward Arab Christians. Since the erupting of the popular uprisings, the Israeli establishment has been applying a three-dimensional policy towards Arab-Christians; composed of voluntary conscription, definition of Arab-Christians as a separate category in public service, and recognition of new national identity for Christian citizens.
The Study of Islam and Muslims in Israel
By: Muhammad al-Atawneh, Meir Hatina
Abstract: The Islamic revival in Israel has attracted the attention of scholars from various fields, who have tried to understand its impact on the local Muslim minority. The article illuminates basic flaws in the study of Islam and Muslims in Israel and suggests additional research directions that may enrich this subject-matter. It criticizes the predominant focus on the IM and its attitude towards the State of Israel, while disregarding the existence of a much wider spectrum of voices speaking on a variety of significant issues. We ask what impact Islamization has on Muslim-Jewish relations in Israel, and also suggest the need for more research and literature on the interactions in Israel between the Muslim minority and other local Arab, non-Jewish, and Jewish minorities, and abroad. Two other questions are discussed: How should we approach Islamic fundamentalism in the Israeli context? and What does it represent vis-à-vis the State of Israel and the dominant Israeli society and culture?
1948 as a Turning Point on the Israeli Political Map
By: Yechiam Weitz
Abstract: The focus of the article is the building of the new political map in 1948—the year of the establishment of the State of Israel. Its essence was to establish new parties that changed the nature of Israeli politics. The map lasted for many years—until 1965, then a new political map was built. Its main chapters: The establishment of Mapam—the main party of the Zionist-left (January 1948); The establishment of the Herut Movement—the main party of the Revisionist Movement (May 1948); The establishment of the Progressive Party—the minor and moderate party (October 1948); The establishment of the political block of the four religious parties; The summary chapter—the place and the position of Mapai (The Labor Party)—the center party in Israel.
Between Universal Human Rights and Ethno-National Values: Israel’s Contested Adoption of the Global Anti-Trafficking Norm
By: Ofir Abu, Dana Zarhin
Abstract: Earlier studies on Israel’s combat against human trafficking largely focused on United States pressure as the key factor that led Israel to change its attitude and adopt the global anti-trafficking norm. This article, instead, highlights the consistency of Israel’s stand in the face of international pressure. Drawing on Knesset protocols, our analysis demonstrates that throughout the translation process, Israeli lawmakers unfailingly modified the anti-trafficking norm to make it compatible with the Zionist value of Jewish-only immigration. Although transnational advocacy networks urged states to view trafficking as a human rights abuse and to prioritize protection of survivors, Israel chose a different path—it promoted a crime-fighting approach that emphasized the primacy of prosecution of traffickers and prevention of trafficking while marginalizing protection of victims. When the United States and the UN began to advance a crime-fighting approach, congruence with local policies and practices emerged, but protection of trafficking survivors remained a contested issue.
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 15, Issue 3)
Murad vs. ISIS: Rape as a Weapon of Genocide
By: miriam cooke
Abstract: This article analyzes recent Iraqi texts, some authorizing and others condemning rape as a weapon of war. The focus is on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) perpetrators of sexual violence, their Yazidi victims, and two women’s demands for reparative, restorative justice. Held in sexual slavery between 2014 and 2015, Farida Khalaf and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad published testimonials that detail their experiences. Determined to bring ISIS rapists to justice, they narrate the formerly unspeakable crimes that ISIS militants committed against them. Adjudicated as a crime against humanity at the end of the twentieth century, rape as a weapon of war, and especially genocide, no longer slips under the radar of international attention. This study argues that the Yazidi women’s brave decision to speak out may help break the millennial silence of rape survivors.
Gender, Genre, and Literary Firsts: The Case of Zhor Wanisi and Ahlam Mosteghanemi
By: Erin Twohig
Abstract: This article questions the conventional wisdom that Ahlam Mosteghanemi’s Dhakirat al-jasad was the first Arabic-language novel written by an Algerian woman. Published more than a decade earlier, Zhor Wanisi’s novel Min yawmiyat mudarrisa hurra received less critical attention, despite representing an important contribution to Algerian literature and women’s life writing. Rather than accepting the “first” novel as an objective category, this article shows how the accolade has obscured works like Wanisi’s from Algerian literary history, reinforced gender and genre binaries, and subjected both authors to biased evaluation. The article draws on a corpus of book reviews, scholarly articles, and monographs to describe how Wanisi’s work was discounted as not a “true” novel, and the related process that brought Mosteghanemi to world fame. The trajectories of Wanisi and Mosteghanemi, placed side by side, suggest new avenues for our understanding of gender, literary genre, and the postcolonial dynamics of world literature.
“The Creation of the Femme Fatale in Egyptian Cinema”
By: Carolina Bracco
Abstract: The appearance of the character of a femme fatale in Egyptian cinema in the mid-1950s is deeply intertwined with the new social and moral imprint made by the Nasserist regime. At a time when women’s participation in the public sphere was regulated, the portrayal of the evil woman was intended to define how the good woman should behave as well as the terrible fate in store for those who dared to flout the limits. This evil woman was embodied in the character of the Oriental dancer who was to be seen, from that time on, as a fallen woman. This article aims to discuss the mutation of the character of the dancer from a bint al balad (lit. “girl of the country”) to a femme fatale by analyzing three films starring two icons of the time, Hind Rustum and Tahia Carioca.
Anticolonial Colonialism: Aurora Bertrana’s El Marroc Sensual i Fanàtic and the Shortcomings of “Anticolonial” Spanish Republican Feminism in the 1930s
By: Monica Lindsay-Perez
Abstract: Between 1931 and 1936 the democratic Spanish government overthrew the monarchy and established the Second Spanish Republic. It was a volatile period for Spanish-Moroccan relations. Fascists were in favor of the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco, whereas Republicans were typically against it. Aurora Bertrana (1892–1974) was a Republican Catalan writer who moved to Morocco in 1935 to write about Muslim women living under the Spanish Protectorate. A close examination of her novel El Marroc sensual i fanàtic (1935) reveals an anticolonialism based on her preoccupation with Spanish nationalist dignity rather than with Moroccan independence. Instead of concluding that Spain’s colonization of Morocco is not good, Bertrana concludes that it is not good enough. Her writing perpetuates centuries-old Spanish Orientalist stereotypes, thus complicating the glorified history of Spanish Republican anticolonialism and feminism in the 1930s.
Gender and Nation Building in Qatar: Qatari Women Negotiate Modernity
By: Alainna Liloia
Abstract: This article explores the relationship between gender and modern nation building in Qatar, with attention to how Qatari women negotiate the challenges of modern development and social change. The article analyzes Qatar’s strategic use of gendered nation-building initiatives, founded on representations of women as both symbols of tradition and markers of modernity, to facilitate modern development and construct a national identity. In addition, the article uncovers the myriad ways Qatari women respond to the state’s gendered initiatives and dualistic expectations, engage with state conceptualizations of modernity and tradition, and negotiate social and religious gender norms. The article argues that Qatari women’s views reflect their strategic negotiation, rather than uncritical submission or acceptance, of social and religious norms alongside increased expectations for participation in the workforce and higher education. The study, derived from fifteen qualitative interviews with Qatari women aged twenty-six to fifty-six, unearths certain trends in participant views on gender roles, modern development, and tradition. The participants express satisfaction with and a desire to maintain established gender paradigms. They simultaneously emphasize the positive aspects of modernization and express concern about a loss of traditional values.
Middle East Critique (Volume 28, Issue 4)
Reformism, Economic Liberalization and Popular Mobilization in Iran
By: Tara Povey
Abstract: Whereas in other MENA countries the impact of neo-liberal policies has been the subject of intense debate, there are at present few voices that directly analyze or critique its social and political consequences in Iran. This article seeks to address this lacuna by analyzing the dynamics of reformism, economic liberalization and popular mobilization in Iran. It charts the country’s move from a post-revolutionary populism to a liberalized yet increasingly exclusivist model of politics and compares this to trajectories of economic liberalization in Egypt. Two distinct outcomes of economic reform are analyzed in the first part of the article: Socioeconomic exclusion; and the contraction of political rights. In the second half, I investigate the ways successive postwar governments in Iran have packaged neoliberal reforms, and how their reimagining of the role of the state has led to differing levels of popular resistance. Finally I argue that under the present administration, political elites increasingly are oriented toward strengthening the state and seeking to limit opposition to their policies. However, the absence of neoliberal hegemony in Iran means that growing mobilization on socioeconomic issues is challenging these policies. The Right in Iranian politics is utilizing this mobilization to present a populist challenge to the reformists in power.
Long Live the Neo-traditional Kings? The Gulf Cooperation Council and Legitimation of Monarchical Rule in the Arabian Peninsula
By: Leonie Holthaus
Abstract: This article revisits prevailing ideas about the legitimation of monarchical rule through the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by emphasizing the neo-traditional rule of the GCC regimes. It assumes that legitimacy claims often cross the local, national and (sub-)regional levels and analyzes them from a critical historical perspective and against the background of a global capitalist order. I show that the history of the sub-regional organization is wedded to legitimacy claims, referring to a common Gulf identity and good economic performance for the benefit of the members’ citizens. However, I focus on what often is marginalized in scholarly analyses: The common normalization of highly segregated labor markets on which the neo-traditional regimes depend. In effect, I criticize not only the international failures to oppose the GCC’s common repression of democratic revolt (2011). I also depict a bias in many scholarly analyses of autocratic legitimacy, as they neglect citizen-foreigner gaps. Finally, I argue that geopolitical and elite competition, as evident in the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, does not prepare the end of the GCC as we know it. Only substantive democratization could do so.
The Emotional Politics of Representations of Migrant Domestic Work in Lebanon
By: Priscilla Ringrose, Elisabeth Stubberud
Abstract: This article undertakes a filmic and cultural analysis of representations of migrant domestic work in Lebanon, with reference to Sara Ahmed’s theorization of the sociality of emotions. It focuses on documentaries, TV programs and news bulletins featuring migrant domestic workers (MDWs). These representations bring to bear intensely emotional situations that capitalize on conflict, loss, and attachment. According to Sara Ahmed, emotions are social and cultural practices that shape individual and collective bodies and legitimize political decisions. In this article, we look at the ways in which the mise-en-scène of encounters involving MDWs, their employers, and other agents, provide for viewers emotional scripts that legitimize certain political positions. We suggest that these mise-en-scène encounters shape domestic work as a site of abuse perpetrated by ‘bad’ employers, as a site of horror inhabited by ‘tragic’ victims, and as a site of loving relations performed by ‘good’ employers. In doing so, we argue that they inflate the privatized and sensationalized dimensions of domestic work and depoliticize this field of labor. The exception to this trend is the documentary A Maid for Each that unflinchingly addresses the moral bankruptcy of Lebanon’s migration and labor regimes.
The Oslo People-to-People Program and the Limits of Hegemony
By: Nadia Naser-Najjab
Abstract: Reconciliation-based initiatives evoke a substantive and meaningful vision of peace and suggest a form of peace building that is intimately engaged at the personal and social level. This article critically engages with a specific reconciliation initiative, the People-to-People Program (P2PP) that was applied to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It uses Gramscian concepts of hegemony, consent, and war of position, with the intention of illustrating that the program functioned as a disciplinary or regulatory device that structured and realigned the agency of its Palestinian participants. In highlighting the different features and dimensions of Palestinian subversion and resistance, it brings out the limits of hegemony.
Iraq’s Sources of Emulation: Scholarly Capital and Competition in Contemporary Shiʿism
By: Elvire Corboz
Abstract: Religious knowledge is at the heart of the Shiʿi system of clerical authority known as the marjaʿiyya. Given the multiplicity of more or less well-established claimants to the position, this article explores the scholarly credentials of the contemporary marjaʿ[source of emulation; pl. marājiʿ]. I conceptualize the marjaʿiyya in accordance with Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of the field in order to examine how scholarly capital is defined, and possibly redefined, by 14 religious scholars competing in this marjaʿiyya field in Iraq. To do so, I use their ‘official’ biographies in Arabic and analyze the types of credentials of scholarly capital that are put forth to legitimate the claims of these marājiʿ. I argue that, despite the multiplicity and diversity of contenders, there is a fair degree of homogeneity in the ways scholarly capital is defined. In the biographies, the marājiʿ’s scholarly capital is validated against three broad indicators: their inherited scholarly capital, which stems from their family background; their educational capital; and the intellectual-scientific prestige capital derived from their scholarly and teaching activities. The credentials emphasized in the different biographies are generally much alike, and if a marjaʿ does not satisfy them, ‘almost-like’ credentials are constructed. Abidance to shared codes and practices reflects, as well as contributes to, the stability of the marjaʿiyya field.
Middle East Law and Governance (Volume 11, Issue 2)
Claiming Bits and Pieces of the State: Squatting and Appropriation of Public Domain in Algeria
By: Robert P. Parks
Abstract: This article examines how Algerians negotiate property and public space and how citizens encounter and engage the state. It explores the phenomenon of squatting and appropriation of public space in contemporary Algeria through the lens of the polysemic term beylik, which can be simultaneously used to define the state, public domain, and no man’s land. It argues that, in addition to individual motivations for personal gain or out of necessity, squatting and the appropriation of public space is also a silent yet highly political act that reimagines the relationship of rights and obligations incumbent between citizen and polity. The appropriation of beylik is a process that comes from widely-held beliefs that types of unused state property are somehow unnatural, if not illegitimate, or that, as a citizen, one has the right to re-model and re-fashion it for either individual or collective use. In this sense, beylik is an empty space in which citizens re-imagine how the community should be governed. By seizing and transforming beylik, a citizen is simultaneously forgetting (or ignoring) the state, while projecting a different governing order for both private and public spheres. The silent encroachment of citizens into the domains of the state – in occupying and re-ordering state space – reveals the fluidity of Algerian institutions, inasmuch as it reveals that institutions are themselves negotiated between state and society.
When Revolutionary Coalitions Break Down: Polarization, Protest, and the Tunisian Political Crisis of August 2013
By: Chantal Berman
Abstract: Revolutionary coalitions often break down in the aftermath of revolution, leading to the collapse of transitional governments. Fragmentation among revolutionary elites has been extensively theorized, but few works consider the origins and consequences of polarization among non-elite protesters in the revolutionary coalition. This paper examines the case of Tunisia to unpack how polarization among former revolutionaries may drive secondary waves of mobilization that imperil governing coalitions, even when elites are cooperating. Unique protest surveys of pro- and anti-government demonstrations during the Tunisian political crisis of 2013 – which catalyzed the resignation of the country’s first elected assembly – show that polarization within this coalition occurred along ideological lines concerning the role of Islam in governance but not along class lines, as some theories of transition would predict. Revolutionaries are re-mobilized in part through divergent narratives concerning which social groups participated most in the revolutionary struggle, and which groups suffered and profited most under the old regime. This paper counters the elite-centrism of predominant “transitology” approaches by highlighting how protest politics may shape institutional transitions.
Trade-Offs and Public Support for Security Reform during Democratic Transitions
By: Nicholas J. Lotito
Abstract: During democratic transitions, newly elected governments face public demands to reform the institutions of the old regime, especially the security forces; yet, these reforms often fail. I argue that politicians define policy issues in ways that maximize popular support for their own positions through well-established processes of elite issue framing. Politicians can reduce popular demand for difficult and costly reforms of the security forces by framing them as trade-offs with other types of reform. The argument is tested with original survey data from Tunisia, an important contemporary case of democratic transition. An embedded vignette experiment primes existing issue frames by asking respondents to adjudicate between investments in security reform versus economic or political reform. I find that framing a trade-off with a more popular policy, economic development, reduces public demand for security reform. These findings have important implications for security sector reform and democratic consolidation in Tunisia and beyond.
Engineering Affect: Street Politics and Microfoundations of Governance
By: Michelle D. Weitzel
Abstract: Affect was an essential component of the Arab uprisings, and it remains an important medium for shaping everyday politics in the Middle East and beyond. Yet while affect is beginning to be conceived as integral to studies of social movements, endeavors to control individual and collective affect in the praxis of statecraft remain understudied—despite robust evidence that affect and emotion are intimately entwined with political behavior and decision-making on a wide range of issues spanning voter preference to foreign policy. This article examines how such control takes effect, situating the sensory body as a bridge and key site of interaction and contestation for diverse projects that seek to influence behavioral outcomes via the manipulation of public space. From among the bodily senses, it singles out the auditory realm as a particularly potent generator of affect and examines the entanglement of sound, hearing, and power to foreground ways the sensory body is routinely engaged in state projects. Drawing on examples from the protests that ricocheted across the Middle East from 2010–2012, and framing these with historical antecedents from original archival work, this article bridges phenomenological experience and political outcomes to reveal how sensory inputs such as sound, wielded by elite and subaltern actors alike, are engineered for political effect. In so doing, I argue that a necessary prerequisite for grasping the role of affect and emotion in politics is a better understanding of technologies and modalities of control that go into the structuring of the sensory environment.
From the Fragments Up: Municipal Margins of Maneuver in Syria and Tunisia
By: Lana Salman, Bernadette Baird-Zars
Abstract: “Most studies of the Arab uprisings and their aftermaths focus on national-level political processes, neglecting changes at the municipal level. The few studies of municipalities that do exist tend to treat municipalities either as corruption-prone institutions exploited by local elites, or else as areas in need of intervention to make them function properly. We argue that municipalities are an overlooked site of political change—both spatially and temporally—that began prior to the uprisings but accelerated in their aftermath. Drawing on original empirical material from Tunisia and Syria between 2007 and 2014, we highlight two changing dimensions of municipal governance: how municipalities have sought to expand their power by stretching into new areas; and how, since the uprisings, municipalities have taken up new regulatory and enforcement roles in the wake of central state retreat.
To support this analysis, we utilize on-the-ground interviews and fieldwork in Tunisia and off-site interviews and aerial analyses of urban growth in northern Syria. We find that, first, city governments are moving into the spaces where national actors are absent, transforming municipalities into spaces for meaningful political engagement (Tunisia) and the allocation of resources (Syria). Second, municipalities have gained greater autonomy in the arenas of service delivery and planning. This increase in municipal power does not represent a break from pre-uprising practices, but rather a continuation and perhaps acceleration of the politicization and expansion of municipal authority that began pre-2011.”