[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the twelfth 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.]


Arabica (Volume 67, Issue 1)

Authorship and Unity of the Classical Arabic Poem through the Lens of Collaborative Composition

By: Erez Naaman

Abstract: When a classical Arabic poem lacked a noticeable degree of thematic coherence and formal structure, it was at risk of foreign intervention aiming to improve it. Who was recognized in such a case as the author of the poem and on which grounds? This article looks at the interrelated questions of the poem’s unity and its authorship through the lens of collaborative poetry that was practiced by completing verse composed in the past. It presents an analysis of poetic collaboration cases from the second/eighth century to the Ayyubid era, and discusses different practical approaches of poets to authorship questions related to the earlier source poem and their own later completion. In the third/ninth century, as an expansive reservoir of ancient and modern poems became increasingly available, we occasionally notice the marks of plagiary, rather than forgery, on collaborative poems of this type. At the same time, and based on this very expansion, kinds of legitimate poetic influence can be detected in the completions of the later poets. Remarkably, poetic intervention did not cease and the poem conceptually did not achieve an inviolable status, when the scholars replaced the transmitters as the authorities on poetry around the third/ninth century and throughout the period under study. Nevertheless, the cultural domain for reshaping earlier verse changed, and the repertoire of poetry considered as “fair game” for this practice was narrowed down based on quality considerations.

Ibrāhīm al-Naḫaʿī (Kufan, d. 96/714)

By: Cristopher Melchert

Abstract: Ibrāhīm al-Naḫaʿī (d. 96/714) was the most prominent Follower (tābiʿī) in the Kufan legal tradition, also prominent in the areas of hadith transmission, koranic commentary, and piety. Later adherents of both hadith and raʾy cited his opinions as authoritative precedents. Presumptively, most quotations of him give us the gist of what he said, not his very words; an undetermined proportion of quotations represents not recollection of his positions but positions someone thought he surely must have taken, if asked.

The Living City of the Dead: Representation of Life in the Cemeteries in Two Egyptian Novels

By: Tania Al Saadi

Abstract: The City of the Dead is a large area on the periphery of Cairo where people live in house-like tombs. This study focuses on two Egyptian novels Šakāwā l-miṣrī l-faṣīḥ (1981-1985) by Yūsuf al-Qaʿīd and Madad (2014) by Maḥmūd al-Wirwārī, in which living in the cemeteries is portrayed as a paradoxical reality where life and death overlap. Limits between the two are blurred, and this creates a confusing situation where landmarks are lost and moral values are subverted. This situation echoes the characters’ personal dilemmas and the uncertain historical context in which they live. This article sheds light on the representation of life in the cemeteries and the concrete and symbolic function of this space. It also discusses this representation within the portrayal of peripheries and marginal spaces in contemporary Egyptian fiction, and explores the way the two novels—published several decades apart—use this ambivalent space to relate their respective historical realities.

Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Issue 383)

Settlement Processes in the Meron Ridges During the Iron Age I

By: Hayah Katz

Abstract: The aim of this study is to reconstruct the settlement processes in the Meron Ridges during the Iron Age I. Although Yoḥanan Aharoni’s pioneering survey in the Upper Galilee was the foundation for later studies on this subject, only a handful of excavations were carried out in the region. In 1976, the Israel Department of Antiquities conducted a salvage excavation at Mt. Adir and revealed a fortress consisting of three main construction strata dating to the period between the late 11th and 9th centuries b.c.e. The excavation results were never published, which has enabled assumptions regarding its date and geo-political status. In the framework of this study, I publish the hitherto unpublished Mt. Adir finds. In addition, I re-examine the previously published sites at Tel Harashim, Sasa, and Horbat ʿAvot. An analysis of these finds indicates that the fortress at Mt. Adir was built as a government center by a local leader who ruled over the Canaanite settlers of the Meron Ridges area during the Iron Age I period.

Much Ado About a Small Thing: An Iron-Age Stamp Seal from Late Roman Beth Sheʿarim in Galilee

By: Adi Erlich

Abstract: A stamp seal of the Iron Age has been found in a Late Roman level at Beth Sheʿarim, in a room that collapsed in the beginning of the 5th century c.e. The seal is of the bifacial type, with two complex scenes of royal and divine imagery, and is dated ca. 1000 b.c.e., some 1400 years prior to the archaeological context in which it was found. Although there are Iron Age II finds at Beth Sheʿarim, the seal seems to have found its way to a later phase not by accident, but deliberately collected and reused in the Late Roman town. The paper will explore this unique seal and the phenomenon of readopting old seals as talisman antiques during the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods in the region.

On the Raw Materials in the Ceramic Workshops of Jerusalem, Before and After 70 c.e.

By: Anat Cohen-Weinberger, Danit Levi, Ron Beʾeri

Abstract: A large area of pottery workshops was exposed west of the Old City of Jerusalem. This industrial area was operated by Jewish potters during the Hellenistic (Hasmonean) and Early Roman periods. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 c.e., the workshops were placed under the authority of the Xth Legion of the Roman military, who later established another workshop in close proximity to the previous ones. In this study, we examine whether and to what extent those historical and cultural changes are reflected in the production organization, manufacturing processes, and products. The research is based on new petrographic results of 129 ceramic products that were manufactured throughout the chronological sequence of this industrial area. The petrographic results indicate a significant change after 70 c.e. New pottery types (e.g., dolia, mortaria) and building materials (roof tiles, bricks, and tubuli) were produced in association with a new “recipe” and a different geological unit. This change in recipe included the intentional addition of quartz grains to the paste, in order to significantly increase the toughness of the products. We also discuss the reason for exploiting a different geological unit. This study may help in attributing vessels and building materials from other sites in the area to these workshops and provide insights into the nature of the workshops’ activity.

Birds in Transition: Bird Exploitation in the Southern Levant During the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age I, and Iron Age II

By: Abra Spiciarich

Abstract: Birds and the exploitation of birds by humans are typically overlooked in archaeofaunal collections. While the frequency of avian remains does not rival those of domestic livestock, that does not render them insignificant in the overall animal economies of Levantine sites. Birds and humans have a long history in the southern Levant, from prehistoric food source to sacrificial offering. Avian remains have been identified, in all periods, at many sites throughout the southern Levant, allowing for an in-depth diachronic exploration to be conducted. This paper tracks the presence and frequency of major avian species—specifically geese, ducks, partridges, pigeons, and doves—in light of changes that occurred in climate, environment, agriculture, trade, and the geopolitical landscape, as well as processes of cultural emulation and cultic influence that took place in the southern Levant during the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age I, and Iron Age II. The key foci will be on the role of geese in cultural emulation, pigeons as sacrificial offerings, waterfowl affected by climate change, and the differences between local vs. import exploitation of birds.

Chalkstone Vessels from Sepphoris: Galilean Production in Roman Times

By: Maya Sherman, Zeev Weiss, Tami Zilberman, Gal Yasur

Abstract: Stone vessels were used in Judaea and the Galilee from the second half of the 1st century b.c.e. until the 2nd century c.e., when it is widely accepted that they were phased out. This study focuses on the major types of chalkstone vessels uncovered in Roman Sepphoris, identifies the unique forms in the assemblage, and discusses the technological issues pertaining to their production. The findings presented in this study suggest that the stone vessels in the Galilee, unlike those in Judaea, did not disappear immediately but were found in layers associated with the Late Roman period (mid-2nd to 4th centuries), thus indicating their continual use. In tracing the sources of the chalkstone vessels, the geochemical analysis employed in this study shows that large numbers of vessels used by Sepphoreans were evidently produced in local quarries of the Lower Galilee.

The Color-Inlaid ‘Champlevé’ Reliefs of the Synagogue at Sardis

By: Marcus Rautman

Abstract: One of the notable features of the Sardis Synagogue was its extensive decoration with floor mosaics, wall paintings, marble revetment, and opus sectile, with an ornamental relief arcade also appearing in the forecourt. Reliefs carved in the distinctive “champlevé” technique presented a series of arches with spandrels featuring vases, vines, and birds set against a reddish ground. The sculptural approach is not well known in the region, although examples of similar work have been reported across Europe and the east Mediterranean, most notably at Aizanoi, Antioch, and Kourion. Other fragments of incised and color-inlaid relief at Sardis suggest that the Synagogue arcade was carved by sculptors who were both familiar with the site and aware of broader trends in architectural ornament in the 6th century c.e.

Between the Highland Polity and Philistia: The United Monarchy and the Resettlement of the Shephelah in the Iron Age IIA, with a Special Focus on Tel ʿEton and Khirbet Qeiyafa

By: Avraham Faust

Abstract: The Shephelah, one of Judah’s 8th century b.c.e. settlement hubs, was sparsely settled during the Iron Age I, when only a small Canaanite enclave survived in its eastern part. The resettlement of the Shephelah, beginning during the Iron Age I–II transition and lasting over 200 years, was a complex process that had two different facets. The first, better-known facet is the gradual establishment of dozens of new sites, the vast majority of which had clear connections to the highlands polity (e.g., Lachish, Tel Zayit, Tel Burna). The second, less-discussed facet is the transformations experienced by the few settlements that existed in the region in the Iron Age I, most notably Tell Beit Mirsim, Beth-Shemesh, Tel ʿEton, and Tel Halif. After presenting background data, the article will offer a detailed reconstruction of the processes through which the Shephelah became part of the highland polity, with a special focus on Tel ʿEton and on the enigmatic, earlier, and short-lived site of Khirbet Qeiyafa. The paper will conclude with a detailed refutation of the recent suggestion that the small Iron Age I Canaanite enclave that existed in the eastern Shephelah developed into a large Iron Age IIA Canaanite polity.

The Alphabetic ‘Scribe’ of the Lachish Jar Inscription and the Hieratic Tradition in the Early Iron Age

By: William M. Schniedewind

Abstract: The recently published 12th century b.c.e. jar inscription from Lachish was described as “undecipherable.” This article offers a plausible interpretation suggesting a mixed inscription using linear alphabetic and an adaptation of the hieratic Egyptian accounting tradition. The inscription thus would stand at a transition point—namely, when linear alphabetic was beginning to be used administratively and when the Egyptian hieratic tradition was being adopted by alphabetic scribes.

An Archaeological Survey of the Arab Village of Bureir: Perspectives on the Late Ottoman and British Mandate Period in Southern Israel

By: Benjamin Saidel, Rachel Hallote, Tali Erickson-Gini, Bernard Schecter, James W. Hardin

Abstract: This report presents the results of an archaeological survey of Bureir, Israel—a village site of the Ottoman and British Mandate periods. Serious archaeological study of the 19th and 20th centuries c.e. in the Levant is still relatively new, and the intent of this survey was to provide archaeological data to use in tandem with the large amount of historical information available for this village. The survey materials yielded information about Bureir’s economy and mode of subsistence as it changed through time, giving a detailed picture of a village within both local and regional contexts.

Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict (Volume 13, Issue 2)

Blood and scripture: how the Islamic State frames religion in violent video propaganda

By: Matthew M. Sweeney, Meghan Kubit

Abstract: The Islamic State captured the world’s attention with the declaration of a global caliphate in 2014. In the subsequent 3 years, the Islamic State showed significant success at attracting foreign fighters, inspiring international terrorist attacks, and maintaining geographic control over portions of Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State’s vibrant online presence amplified this success via a sophisticated social media campaign and a robust propaganda output through imagery and visual multimedia. We expand on the prior work on Islamic State propaganda by asking, how does the Islamic State frame its violent video propaganda in the presence or absence of religious verses? We will answer this question using the SITE Intelligence Group’s terrorist video database. We applied framing theory and developed a theoretical framework built on the scholarly literature on violence in video propaganda and religious marketing. We find that the Islamic State intermixes violence and religion for the same purposes within its propaganda; namely, in seeking to legitimize itself, recruit from a broader audience, and intimidate its opponents. We further find specific differences between the perceived problems, solutions, and motivations in Islamic State propaganda and how the Islamic State uses religion and violence to address particular demographics.

Journal of Economic Policy Reform (Volume 23, Issue 2)

How does the flow of remittances affect the trade balance of the Middle East and North Africa?

By: Mohammad Reza Farzanegan, Sherif Maher Hassan

Abstract: The Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) economies have one of the highest degrees of dependency on received remittances worldwide. In this study, we have examined the role of remittances in the trade balance of 11 labour abundant MENA countries. Our panel regression analysis showed that the inflow of remittances has fostered the trade deficit. We also found that the final effect of remittances depends on the level of domestic capital formation. The results are robust after controlling for other drivers of trade deficit such as income, inflation, exchange rate and institutions as well as country and year fixed effects.

Journal of Islamic Studies (Volume 31, Issue 2)

Traces of Mysticism in Ibn al-Jawzī’s Thought; an Examination of His Baḥr al-Dumūʿ

By: Pascal Held

Abstract:This study attempts to show that the well-known Ḥanbalī scholar Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 1201) was not, as commonly assumed, intrinsically opposed to mystical endeavours, but in fact himself had mystical inclinations. The basis for this argument is the previously unstudied Baḥr al-dumūʿ. A detailed examination of selected sections of this work reveals a relatively comprehensive, developed idea of the mystical path. This path sees man, upon being inspired by divine love, as desiring and later encountering God, leading to intoxication and intimacy with Him and, by extension, to mutual love between man and God. Baḥr al-dumūʿ often relies on the metaphors of monasteries and wine to illustrate this journey through which man takes on a new perspective focused on God’s unveiled countenance. This perspective enables him to decipher God’s subtle speech, which gives him a keen understanding of His actions and a spiritual cognizance of Him. Hence, man recognizes God alone as True Being, surrendering all to Him and passing from his own created existence to become a witness on His behalf. While Baḥr al-dumūʿ reveals mystical elements in Ibn al-Jawzī thought, this article nevertheless argues against identifying him on this basis as a Sufi.

The Muslim Conquest of the City of al-Ubulla

By: Irsan Ramini, Heba Al-Zuraiqi

Abstract: This paper discusses the dating of the Muslim conquest of the southern Iraqi port city of al-Ubulla. Arab historians give two conflicting accounts of the event: one puts it in the year 14 AH; the other in the year 16 AH. Modern scholars for their part have made no serious attempt to reconcile the two accounts. They have linked the disagreement with the traditional rivalry between Basran and Kufan historians and, generally, tended to prefer the latter account (16 AH). This paper takes a different approach to the issue. It rejects the interpretation of the disagreement given by modern scholars and, instead, reconciles the two accounts through close examination of other aspects of the Ubulla conquest. The argument conlcudes that the port city was conquered twice, once in the year 14 AH before the battle of al-Qādisiyya and then again in 16 AH after that battle. This conclusion puts us in a good position, first, to reconcile other disagreements on the sequence of events regarding the conquest of southern Iraq and, secondly, to draw some judgments as to the tribal identity of the Muslim troops who implemented that conquest and established the garrison city of Basra.

Did Premodern Muslims Distinguish the Religious and Secular? The Dīn–Dunyā Binary in Medieval Islamic Thought

By: Rushain Abbasi

Abstract: This article challenges the widely-held belief, within and outside academia, that premodern Muslims did not make a distinction between the religious and secular. I explore the issue by examining several usages of the dīn–dunyā binary across diverse genres of medieval Islamic writings and assessing to what extent it accords with or diverges from the categories of the religious and secular as commonly used in the modern Western world. I situate my particular counter-claim vis-à-vis the argument against the relevance of the religious–secular distinction to Islam made by Shahab Ahmed in his, What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic. My findings show that contrary to Ahmed and the broader consensus, premodern Muslims did in fact view the world in terms of distinct spheres of religion and non-religion and that this distinction was used to understand phenomena as diverse and significant as politics and prophethood. Nevertheless, the two categories interacted in a way distinct from the common understanding of the two in the modern world insofar as, under the medieval Islamic conception, it was religion that regulated the secular. My article will make sense of these similarities and differences in an effort to present an indigenous account of the religious–secular dialectic in medieval Islam, one that problematizes the current standard account which holds that these categories were invented within the modern West.

Dispatches from Cairo to India: Editors, Publishing Houses, and a Republic of Letters

By: Ahmad Khan

Abstract: This article documents the existence of a vibrant republic of letters stretching from Cairo to Karachi in the middle of the twentieth century. On the basis of private letters, memoirs, and modern editions of classical texts, this article recreates the scholarly and personal commitments of a new class of professional editors (muḥaqqiqūn). These editors were responsible for the emergence of some of the most influential publishing houses in the Islamic world, and their contribution to the production and circulation of pre-modern texts has had a profound impact on the intellectual development of Islam in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. They believed that cultivating a republic of letters was necessary because it served the world of learning and scholarship. In this way was fashioned a virtual community, separated by national and political borders, but united by visions of history and a shared sense of moral and intellectual duty.

Journal of Near Eastern Studies (Volume 79, Issue 1)

Naram-Sin’s War against Armanum and Ebla in a Newly-Discovered Inscription from Tulul al-Baqarat

By: Nashat Alkhafaji, Gianni Marchesi

Abstract: Not available

The Tribal Affiliations of Shuraḥbīl ibn Ḥasana

By: Yaara Perlman

Abstract: Not available

On Mass-Producing the Standard Inscription of Ashurnasirpal II

By: J. Caleb Howard

Abstract: Not available

From Demons to a Slippery Slope: MLC 1948, a new list of Sumerian terms and their equivalents

By: Klaus Wagensonner

Abstract: Not available

The Byzantine Concept of “Syria” as Arab Empire and its Ancient Roots

By: Predrag Komatina

Abstract: Not available

Journal of Social History (Volume 53, Issue 3)

Counting the Population and the Wealth in an “Unruly” Land: Census Making as a Social Process in Ottoman Kurdistan, 1830–50

By: Nilay Özok-Gündoğan

Abstract: This article examines the earliest modern Ottoman censuses in Kurdistan in the mid-nineteenth century from a social history perspective. Echoing the efforts of its contemporaries, the Ottoman state set out to conduct its first modern population census in 1830. This early census reflected the state’s aims for standardization and centralization, yet it was conducted “successfully” only in provinces geographically close to the capital. In Kurdistan, a border area controlled by ancient Kurdish chiefdoms and tribes, the census remained a herculean task for over four decades. Following recent society-centered views of global census history, this article approaches the modern Ottoman census experience in this early period as a social process rather than a top down enterprise. It argues that what determined the content, structure, and the format of these early censuses was not the discussions in the meeting rooms of the Ottoman imperial bureaucracy but social encounters between local and central, state and nonstate actors situated in the locality.

Journal of the American Oriental Society (Volume 140, Issue 2)

Syntax of Hittite imma

By: Andrei Sideltsev

Abstract: Building upon Melchert 1985, I assess the syntax of Hittite imma with special attention to its second-position requirement.

The Image of the Dragon in RS 16.266 (= KTU1–3 1.83): Ugaritic √ṯrp and Its Syriac, Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, and Mandaic Cognates

By: Madadh Richey

Abstract: The fragmentary Ugaritic text RS 16.266 (= KTU1–3 1.83) contains a number of lexical and other problems exacerbated by the state of the tablet and difficulties in defining the plot and characters involved in the text. One of these lexical issues involves the analysis of two verbs that appear to be from the root √ṯrp. In the present paper, I survey previous hypotheses as to the etymology and semantics of this verb and contrast the deficiencies of these with the merits of identifying a thus far unrecognized cognate set in lexemes from the root √trp in later Aramaic dialects, i.e., Syriac, Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, and Mandaic. The verbs in this cognate set have the semantics ‘to strike (esp. of a snake)’, and thus clarify both the activity and morphology of the fearsome dragon described in RS 16.266.

The Greek Death of Imruʾ al-Qays

By: Teddy J. Fassberg

Abstract: It is commonly remarked, as a curiosity, that Imruʾ al-Qays’s traditional death resembles that of Heracles, but it has never been meaningfully discussed. This article undertakes to do so, arguing for the Greek provenance of his death tradition and discussing the implications of the Islamic construction of a Greek death for “the greatest Arab poet.” One implication involves his biography more generally, which is argued to have originally formed a different kind of narrative serving particular Islamic interests, later adapted to a biographic mold. The second stems from the recognition that the legendary Greek death of Imruʾ al-Qays is neither incidental nor isolated, which suggests that the horizons of Greco-Arabic studies are unduly narrow: alongside the transmission of written scientific texts, there were also oral popular traditions of Greek origin that left a deep imprint on Islamic culture.

Assyria and Babylon in the Oracles against the Nations Tradition: The Death of a King (Isa. 14:5–20; Isa. 30:27–33)

By: Jo Ann Scurlock

Abstract: I attempt to make a fresh start on the subject of the interaction between the Isaiah prophets and Mesopotamian culture. The results will probably surprise and even alarm, since they threaten to overturn a great deal of previous scholarship and to gore a number of sacred cows. First is the idea that 1st Isaiah is either the work of the historical prophet or was composed, along with the rest of the Hebrew Bible, in the Persian or Hellenistic period. I have no doubt that some passages are to be connected with the historical prophet, but not merely one or two but indeed the bulk of 1st Isaiah’s prophecies, albeit often pre-exilic in origin, are, in my view, too late to be contemporary with Isaiah himself.

Legal Maxims (qawāʿid fiqhiyya) in Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī’s Jurisprudence and Fatwas

By: Ron Shaham

Abstract: Subsequent to the crystallization of the legal schools, Muslim jurists felt the need to consolidate the massive corpus of legal opinion in order to aid students and practitioners of the law. The result was legal maxims (qawāʿid fiqhiyya), concise theoretical statements that captured the objectives of the Sharia. An example is al-ḍarar yuzāl (“Harm must be removed”), which is based on the hadith lā ḍarar wa-lā ḍirār. This article analyzes the role of legal maxims in Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī’s (b. 1926 in Egypt) jurisprudence and fatwas, as found in his numerous books and articles. Its preliminary assumption is that Qaraḍāwī uses legal maxims to control and systematize the use of considerations of public welfare (maṣlaḥa), especially in the field of “the jurisprudence of reality” (fiqh al-wāqiʿ). Because this fiqh deals mainly with political topics on which there are hardly any guidelines in scripture, and stems therefore from mostly nontextual benefits (maṣāliḥ mursala), it is an area vulnerable to undisciplined use of utilitarian considerations by jurists. Legal maxims then come in handy when weighing the relevant benefit and harm related to each topic.

Gilding Textiles and Printing Blocks in Tenth-Century Egypt

By: Anya H. King

Abstract: The surviving portion of the tenth-century Egyptian Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Tamīmī’s recently edited Ṯīb al-ʿarūs has several formulas relating to the dying and perfuming of textiles. Some refer to the use of carved molds to impress designs upon textiles. Tamīmī’s formulas treat in particular the application of gold leaf and perfumed dye pastes with blocks, but presuppose the technology of using blocks to apply designs to textiles and include a vocabulary of technical terms for the process. This textual evidence provides additional context for surviving early medieval Islamic block-printed gilded textiles. The attestation of the use of blocks to decorate textiles is contemporary with the use of blocks to print Arabic amulet texts, known by the tenth century from extant specimens and some literary evidence.

Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Volume 63, Issue 3)

Paper Currency, Banking, and Islamic Monetary Debates in Late Ottoman and Early Saudi Arabia

By: Michael O’Sullivan

Abstract: This article examines the Saudi government’s refusal to introduce paper currency until 1956 against the backdrop of two developments: First, the composition of a number of treatises written by Muslim scholars in the late Ottoman and early Saudi Hijaz and Najd permitting use of the medium; second, the unsuccessful effort by several Muslim entrepreneurs to create formal banking facilities in the Hijaz between the 1920s and 1950s. Throughout these decades, as the Saudi regime repeatedly claimed that paper currency violated Islamic orthodoxy because it was a bearer of interest, these scholars argued forcefully for the medium’s legitimacy by mobilizing the legal sources of their particular school of law (madhhab). This contrast reflects how the religious politics of the kingdom departed from both Ottoman precedents and other contemporary Islamic contexts in which paper currency was widely assimilated via the assent of Muslim legal scholars. The regime’s tepid support for, or outright obstruction of, the creation of formal banking facilities that issued paper currency further exacerbated this divergence. In the end, because of such inconsistency it required technocratic institutions like the IMF and ARAMCO to introduce paper currency and a formal banking system into the kingdom from the mid-1950s.

El Niño and the Nomads: Global Climate, Local Environment, and the Crisis of Pastoralism in Late Ottoman Kurdistan

By: Zozan Pehlivan

Abstract: This article explores the impacts of environmental crises on pastoral nomads in Ottoman Kurdistan/Armenia in the late nineteenth-century. It demonstrates that the climatic fluctuations characterizing these environmental crises were synchronized with global climatic oscillations, specifically the El Niño Southern Oscillation. Recurrent episodes of severe drought and cold dramatically affected these groups, who were unable to withstand extreme changes in temperature and precipitation. Back-to-back drought episodes created a shortage of water, dried up pastures and damaged forage, while severe cold resulted in high rates of premature death among herd animals. These climatic events thus had devastating economic and social consequences.

Disintegration as an Integrative Process: Revisiting Palestinian Cohesiveness from the Late Ottoman Era through the End of the British Mandate

By: Harel Chorev

Abstract: The common narrative regarding the Palestinian Arabs during the British Mandate period highlights the disastrous effects of social and political disintegration on their integration as a national community, as well as on their ability to deal with the British and the Jewish Yishuv. The analysis offered here examines integration and disintegration processes in Palestinian society through diverse local, regional and national networks. The main argument is that disintegration and integration processes were not exclusively contradictory, as is commonly perceived, but rather dialectical developments that often ultimately served Palestinian integration, although this process did not mature until the fateful War of 1948.

Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 56, Issue 3)

The roots and the consequences of the 1979 Iranian revolution: A Kurdish perspective

By: Marouf Cabi

Abstract: This article explores the roots and the consequences of the 1979 Iranian Revolution with a focus on one of Iran’s constituent peoples, the Kurds. It provides historical perspectives on a specific people in relation to the Revolution and aims to enhance historical awareness on the Revolution and contribute to debates around it. It is divided into two main parts. The first part deals with the roots of the Revolution by presenting an overview of social change and transformation during the preceding decades to create a historical foundation, which studies on the Kurds in Iran have usually lacked. The second part deals with the consequences of the Revolution, analysing the autonomy movement, the characteristics of which are closely linked to social change of the preceding decades. Despite the availability of sources on the period, previous scholarship has been devoid of sufficient historical analysis on both the background to, and events which took place during, the Revolution. This article addresses that gap by presenting an analysis of that historical process.

Intellectual struggles of Kurdish ulema in a post-colonial world: the case of Mullah Ali Zile

By: Gulsum Gurbuz-Kucuksari

Abstract: Modern Kurdish thought encompasses many factions with diverse social, political, religious and ideological positions in and outside of Turkey.1 While our knowledge about the evolutions of the nationalist thought among Kurdish secular intellectuals has radically increased, the intellectual heritage of Kurdish religious intellectuals, the ulema, who have been searching for the best ways of delivering their societies from internal and external exploitations, have been mostly overlooked in Western academia. This article aims to bring to light the intellectual wrestling of a Kurdish mullah, Ali Zile of Diyarbakır, with the problems he believed Kurds faced from many angles: sheikhs, the passive madrasa tradition, the Kurdish secular/Marxist nationalism from the inside, and the Turkish nationalism and the Western imperialism from the outside.

Survival of the Kuwaiti statelet: Najd’s expansion and the question of British protection

By: Ash Rossiter

Abstract: For Kuwait in the 1920s, the most pressing problem was how to respond to the rising power of the neighbouring polity of Najd. Acting initially under the leadership of Ibn Saud, the future founder-king of Saudi Arabia, raiding Najdi tribes, many of whom followed the strict creed of Wahhabism and were referred to as Ikhwan (brotherhood), at one point threatened to conquer Kuwait. Moreover, Ibn Saud, who would later turn against recalcitrant elements of the Ikhwan, pressed his claims over large parts of Kuwaiti territory. This article analyzes how the Al Sabah rulers navigated through these turbulent waters. In particular, it explores how successive Kuwaiti leaders grappled with the uncertainty of British protection in their attempts to retain tiny Kuwait’s autonomy.

A people that shall dwell alone; is that so? Israel and the minorities alliance

By: Yusri Hazran

Abstract: The state of Israel, and the Zionist movement before it, has always considered itself to be facing an existential threat from hostile surroundings. Hence, seeking alliance with non-Arab nations and ethnic minority groups in the area was seen as a means of confronting this challenge. During the early decades of its existence, the Israeli establishment adopted the concept of the alliance of the periphery and the alliance of minorities developed by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion and his protégée, Reuven Shiloah, the founder of the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad. This research project will demonstrate that, in opposition to apologetic and ideologically-motivated arguments that deny that alliance with minority communities has been a systematic policy, the minorities’ alliance has for decades been an important foundation of Israeli strategy vis-à-vis the Arab world. Furthermore, the article will argue and demonstrate that the ‘Minorities Alliance’ is derived from ideological, historical, and strategic considerations anchored in the very existence of Zionism and Israel. Furthermore, and on the same note, this conception and strategy cannot be disconnected from the self-perception of Zionism, its self-directed reading of Jewish history, and the Zionisation of the milieu.

On the frontier of integration: the Histadrut and the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel

By: Arnon Degani

Abstract: This article analyzes the Histadrut, the quintessential Labor Zionist organization, and its policies regarding the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel between the years 1948-1967. Using archival documents, published material, and oral history, the article reconstructs previously unexplored aspects of Palestinian membership in the Histadrut and reveals the spectrum of attitudes that it elicited. Whereas previous research has identified the Histadrut’s role in segregating the Jewish and Palestinian communities in Palestine, this article argues that after 1948, the Histadrut integrated the Palestinian Arabs into Israeli society in a way that complicates our understanding of Zionism.

Kemalist Turkey and the Palestinian question, 1945–1948

By: Tuba Ünlü Bilgiç, Bestami S. Bilgiç

Abstract: This article analyses Turkey’s policy vis-à-vis the Palestinian Question from the end of the Second World War to the final months of 1948. During this interval, the main foreign policy issue on the agenda of the Turkish policy makers was the Soviet menace, against which the Turks sought the assistance of the British and the Americans. However, they did not align their Palestine policy with that of the Anglo-Americans, which supported the Zionist project. The Turks, who portrayed the Arabs in their school textbooks as traitors due to the revolt of Sharif Hussein during the First World War, endorsed the Arab cause in Palestine. The Kemalists were convinced that Palestine was historically Arab. Besides, they were co-religionists with the Arabs. Therefore, according to Ankara, the Arabs should have their own independent state in Palestine. In fact, far from following the Anglo-American policy in Palestine blindly, the Turkish government tried to persuade the Anglo-Americans to the Arab cause.

Remembering the tatas: an oral history of the Tetouan elite about their female domestic slaves

By: Josep Lluís Mateo Dieste

Abstract: Affluent families in Tetouan (Morocco) had female domestic servants from slave origins until well into the twentieth century. I present here a reconstruction of the trajectories and living conditions of those women, based on the recent memory of the slave-owning families themselves. This exercise raises different methodological challenges about the use of memory, while allowing us to present the transformations that the slavery system underwent in colonial Morocco. The position of female domestic servants was diverse and paradoxical, since in many cases they achieved a degree of closeness with the families, while at the same time finding themselves under a system of class and gender domination.

From ‘people’s education’ to people’s entertainment: the changing role of cinema in Turkey’s People’s Houses (1932–1950)

By: Özgür Adadağ

Abstract: This article analyzes the use of cinema by the People’s Republican Party in the early decades of republican Turkey. It focuses on cinema activities in the People’s Houses, which from 1932 onward opened in different regions of the country and operated as the party’s cultural organ. Relying on a range of archival materials, it shows that from the mid-1930s, cinema came increasingly to be used by the party as a propaganda device for promoting ‘people’s education’; from the mid-1940s, however, the party began to turn to cinema as a source of revenue to keep the People’s Houses financially afloat. While this change owed much to the political and economic conditions of the period following the Second World War, it was equally a product of the different expectations locals had of the cinema, as distinct from those of the People’s House administrators and the party leaders in Ankara. Where the latter group viewed cinema as a tool for ‘people’s education’, People’s House administrators saw it as a source of income, and the locals who visited the People’s Houses saw it as a means of entertainment.

On the short but eventful life of Abdülhalîm Memdûh

By: Syed Tanvir Wasti

Abstract: Reforms introduced in 1839 (known as the Tanzimat) which were intended to modernize the Ottoman political and administrative structure, led inevitably to movements which introduced new literary ideas into the Ottoman cultural sphere. One of the first writers who wished to see Ottoman literature catch up with developments in Europe was Abdülhalîm Memdûh (1866 – 1905). His contributions covered the areas of poetry, prose, drama, journalism and political activism. Memdûh was not content with using classical chronicles; he published at the age of 22 the very first History of Ottoman Literature in Turkish, which served as the model for subsequent literary histories. Later, in his short life, he collaborated with Edmond Fazy, a Swiss writer, to publish a book in Paris titled Anthologie de l’amour turc, which contains Turkish love poems in French translation for the first time. This article evaluates the contributions of Abdülhalîm Memdûh in order to give him a place among the pioneers of 20th century Turkish literature.

Imagining Turan: homeland and its political implications in the literary work of Hüseyinzade Ali [Turan] and Mehmet Ziya [Gökalp]

By: Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, Arzu Opçin-Kıdal

Abstract: While scholarly interest in the influence of Tatar intellectuals on Turkish nationalism has been strong, less attention has been paid to the interactions between Russian Azerbaijani and Ottoman Turkish intellectuals. This study applies theoretical tools developed by Benedict Anderson in the study of ethnic nationalism in the late Ottoman and Russian Empires. In doing so, this study focuses on the works of one leading intellectual from each side, Hüseyinzade Ali [Turan] and Mehmet Ziya [Gökalp]. Particular attention is paid to the concept of Turan, which they defined and elaborated as both a political ideal and a key element of the nationalist ideology they espoused through four poems they authored, two of which have homonymous titles. Their different views of the limits of the Turanian ‘imagined community’ and the political operationalization of the concept shed light on the development of ethnic nationalism in the declining Ottoman and Russian Empires. Ever since, Turan has become a significant symbolic conceptual tool that has fired the imaginations of Turkic nationalists (without, yet, having led to the establishment of a serious political movement).

The problematic notion of the ‘Islamic state’ in the discourses of contemporary Islamists: the case of Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zahra (1898–1974)

By: Sami E. Baroudi

Abstract: This article examines the conceptualization of the ‘Islamic state’ by one reputable Arab Islamist scholar, Muhammad Abu Zahra. It contends that he fails to provide internally consistent answers to four key questions. First, does the Islamic state presently exist, or is it yet to be established; and if the latter is the case then by whom and how? Second, was the historic caliphate which allegedly extended from the death of the Prophet until the Ottoman caliphate’s dissolution an ‘Islamic state’? Third, is the ‘Islamic state’ universal in scope, or can there be several Islamic states at the same time? Fourth, what is the relationship between the ‘Islamic state’ and Islamic unity; and can the latter be achieved outside the context of the ‘Islamic state’? I argue that Abu Zahra’s conceptualization of the ‘Islamic state’ is heavily influenced by ‘modern’/European ideas about the nation-state; as a sovereign entity with the authority to impose its writ over its citizens and territory. I conclude that the ‘Islamic state’ is a stillborn idea being a hybrid of two highly incompatible sets of genes: the Islamic tradition, which does not conceive the Umma in territorial terms, and the ‘modern’/ European notion of the territorial state.

Near Eastern Archaeology (Volume 83, Issue 1)

Tel Burna after a Decade of Work: The Late Bronze and Iron Ages

By: Chris McKinny, Aharon Tavger, Deborah Cassuto, Casey Sharp, Matthew J. Suriano, Steven M. Ortiz, Itzhaq Shai

Abstract: As our project at Tel Burna enters the tenth season of excavations, we have compiled a summary of the archaeological finds from 2009–2018. Tel Burna is located in the southern Shephelah in modern-day southern Israel. The Judean Shephelah is comprised of foothills above several east–west valleys that drain the Judean incline in the east to the coastal plain in the west. These valleys were strategic agricultural zones and trade routes throughout history, and in particular during the Late Bronze and Iron Ages. Tel Burna is situated on a natural hill in the middle of Nahal Guvrin, one of the main roads through the Judean Shephelah.

Niğde Kınık Höyük: New Evidence on Central Anatolia during the First Millennium BCE

By: Lorenzo d’Alfonso, Burak Yolaçan, Lorenzo Castellano, Nancy Highcock, Roberta Casagrande-Kim, Maria Elena Gorrini, Andrea Trameri

Abstract: The sudden fall of the Hittite Empire at the turn of the thirteenth century BCE is a major case study for political disruptions in the history of the Mediterranean, and it resulted in the profound transformation of central Anatolia, the former Hittite core territory.1 This disruption affected the whole eastern Mediterranean, but nowhere was hit as severely as Hittite Anatolia. Hittite political legacy survived only at the eastern borderlands of the empire—the Upper Euphrates, Malatya, and Karkemiš—and only to the tenth century in northern Syria and south of the Taurus Mountains (fig. 1; Weeden 2013). As for central Anatolia, scholars generally concur that a degree of political complexity was reintroduced only in the eighth century BCE. Famine, mass migrations, and conflicts have been considered the main driving factors behind the sudden decrease in settlement occupation after the fall of the empire.

Wine from the Desert : Late-Antique Negev Viniculture and the Famous Gaza Wine

By: Sára Lantos, Guy Bar-Oz, Gil Gambash

Abstract: One of the most prestigious wines of late antiquity was Gaza wine, which, like Ashkelon wine, became popular in the late fourth century and reached peak demand in the second half of the fifth–early seventh centuries CE. The appetite for this and other southern Levantine wines arose as a result of several influential processes, leading among them the growth of the new capital at Constantinople and its positive economic effect on the eastern Mediterranean (Ostrogorsky 2003: 59; van Dam 2010: 77). More specifically, the growing popularity of Christianity, and the rise of both the pilgrimage movement and the ascetic communities, served as efficient platforms for familiarizing the Mediterranean world with wines originating in the Holy Land. With the spread of the ritual of the Eucharist, wine from the Holy Land gained particular sanctity. While the western part of the Mediterranean may have been lost to the empire, the new kingdoms that now controlled the region adopted essential elements of Mediterranean routine and Roman culture, including Christianity, and the wine trade between the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean continued to prosper regardless of political changes (Chrysos 1997: 18; Pohl 1997; Lebecq 1997; Halsall 2007: 19–22; Brown 1971: 144).

The Late-Antique Ma‘agan Mikhael B Shipwreck, Israel

By: Deborah Cvikel

Abstract: The Ma‘agan Mikhael B shipwreck, dated to the seventh–eighth centuries CE, is located about 70 meters off the Mediterranean coast of Israel, at a maximum water depth of 3 meters, buried under 1.5 meters of sand. The excavation of the shipwreck is in progress, and the hull has not yet been excavated completely. The exposed hull remains, comprising the keel, endposts, aprons, framing timbers, hull planks, stringers, bulkheads, and maststep assembly, are in a good state of preservation. The most significant finds are the ceramic sherds and complete amphorae. Other finds include rigging elements, wooden artifacts, organic finds, animal bones, glassware, coins, bricks, and rocks. The dating of this shipwreck makes it an exceptional source of information regarding various aspects of ship construction, seamanship and seafaring, regional economic activity, and daily life in the Levant in late antiquity.



[The articles below were recently added to the Peer-Reviewed Articles Review: Winter 2019/2020 (Part 4). They have been included here for your convenience.]

American Ethnologist (Volume 47, Issue 1)

Citizen forces: The politics of community policing in Turkey

By: Hayal Akarsu

Abstract: In the last 15 years the Turkish National Police have invested heavily in “community policing,” espousing the belief that a strong police‐public relationship will curtail authoritarian policing and police violence. Yet this reform has intensified popular desires for more policing and fostered a new type of citizen‐police subject, what I call citizen forces . The purportedly liberal tool of community policing turned the previously despised figure of the police informer into a respected practitioner of engaged, responsible, and vigilant citizenship. When functioning as ancillary police forces, citizen forces can help consolidate state power and aggravate state repression, especially against suspect Others. Emerging mostly at the neighborhood level, such forms of policing and politicization demonstrate the increasing complicity and mutual constitution of police and citizens, as well as the formation of state‐sponsored vigilantism.

Probabilistic borderwork: Oil smuggling, nonillegality, and techno‐legal politics in the Kurdish borderlands of Turkey

By: Firat Bozçal

Abstract: How are borders made porous? In Turkey’s Kurdish borderlands, smugglers are not just agents who operate under cover of night, but city‐based traders whose legal practices create a third space in between legality and illegality. Kurdish oil traders accused of smuggling work closely with lawyers to perform what I call probabilistic borderwork . This is a deliberate counterstate political strategy that uses scientific uncertainty to challenge smuggling charges, achieve nonillegality, and legally disrupt the state’s border enforcement. Going beyond existing categories of law and politics, probabilistic borderwork is not a rights‐claiming political‐legal action. Rather, it is a form of techno‐legal political agency involving collaboration between otherwise disparate professional groups.

Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Volume 63, Issue 1)

Caravan Trade in the Late Ottoman Empire: the ʿAqīl Network and the Institutionalization of Overland Trade

By: Philippe Pétriat

Abstract: Building on recent works on Central Asia and using Ottoman, Arabic and European sources, this article challenges the idea that caravan trade was declining in the 19th and 20th-century Ottoman Middle East. It explores the caravan trade’s economic and political dimensions from the Gulf to Syria. This trade’s resurgence was simultaneous with the reassertion of imperial control over the steppe. In that changing context, the institutionalization of caravan trade by groups such as the ʿAqīl traders kept overland trade lively and arguably competitive.

A Reformist, a Diplomat, and a Benevolent Merchant: Hājī Mīrzā Sayyīd Muhammad-Taqī Shīrāzī (Afnān), the Shīrāzī Trading House and the Propagation of the Babi-Baha⁠ʾi Faith

By: Soli Shahvar

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to offer a glimpse into the Baha⁠ʾi mercantile community in Iran during the second half of the nineteenth century and its reformist and modernist attitudes through the accounts of one of its leading merchants, Hājī Mīrzā Sayyīd Muhammad-Taqī Shīrāzī (Afnān).

MELA Notes (Issue 92)

Muhammad Ali Eltaher Collection At the Library of Congress

By: Nawal A. Kawar

Abstract: Not available

Review of African Political Economy (Volume 46, Issue 162)

Gulf capital and Egypt’s corporate food system: a region in the third food regime

By: Christian Henderson

Abstract: How can we define the emergence of new spaces in the global corporate food system? This article argues that regions in food regime theory have been overlooked, both geographically and socially. As an example of the significance of the regional level, it examines the case of the relationship between Egypt and the Gulf states. In addition to Western capital, Egypt’s corporate food system has been determined by regional capital from the Gulf. Gulf investment is one of the largest foreign capitals in Egypt’s agribusiness sector and it owns companies that have controlling market shares of corporate food. It will argue that this has been concomitant with the political power of a class hierarchy that extends from Egypt into the Gulf Cooperation Council states.