We are pleased to share this annual review of our Essential Readings (ER) series. Individual ERs serve as teaching and research resources a specific geographic, temporal, and/or thematic subject by providing annotated lists of key works on the subject. Below we list (and link to) all those installments published in 2020, while providing a brief summer. Happy reading! 

2020 featured the launch of our ongoing “Essential Readings on The Left” series, which offers readers a starting place to explore key texts in the history and contemporary dynamics of leftist ideas, movements, and politics in the Middle East and North Africa.

Our first three contributions to the series were on:

  • Iranian Socialism and Communism by Eskander Sadeghi-Boroujerdi
    Sadeghi-Boroujerdi tracks the history of communist and socialist movements in Iran from the early twentieth century through the contemporary period. He does so through a meticulous reading of the historiography, highlighting its varied foci and methodological approaches as well as what gaps exist.
  • Marxism and the Left in Egypt by Joel Beinin
    Beinin tracks the history of communist movements in Egypt from the early twentieth century through the contemporary period. He is particularly attentive to shifts in the fate of the movements vis-à-vis local and global developments at the same time that highlights important internal struggles within the movements.
  • The Left in Mandate Palestine by Musa Budeiri
    Budeiri’s focus on the Mandate period allows him to delve into the wealth of Arabic, English, and Hebrew scholarship on leftist movements. Budeiri carefully curated a list of texts that trace the history of the movements, pivotal moments, its key players, its fringes, and much more.

The launch of Jadaliyya’s Environment Page facilitated a new added focus to questions of environment:

  • Environment and Politics in the Middle East by Camille Cole, Brittany Cook, & Gabi Kirk
    Jadaliyya Environment Page co-editors provide readers with an installment that both outlines the foundational materials for approaching and discussing the environment in the Middle East and highlights the many new directions of the field through several recent publications on environment in the region.
  • Land, Water, and the Environment in Israeli Occupied Palestinian Territories by Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins
    Stamatopoulou-Robbins stresses the urgency of discussing and addressing the environment as a critical site of power relations in Palestine. Their disciplinarily-diverse selection of materials centers Palestinian voices in articulating the stakes of land, water, and environmental struggles in Palestine. Click here for a short interview with Stamatopoulou-Robbins on this ER installment.

2020 also featured a number of other overviews of critical scholarship:

  • The Hirak (Algerian Uprisings of 2019) by Muriam Haleh Davis and Thomas Serres
    Davis and Serres capture many analytic voices speaking to the 2019 uprisings in Algeria, including academic articles in both French and English, as well as essays, newspaper articles, and opinion pieces in English, French, and Arabic.
  • Politics and Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa by Nicola Pratt
    Pratt highlights the importance and value of a concentrated attention to popular culture. Her annotated list speaks to the links between popular culture and identity, dissemination of political ideas, constitutive of politics, and political economy.
  • “Democracy Promotion” by Benjamin Schuetze
    Schuetze points to the long history of “democracy promotion” and provides a critical framework for making sense of the most important works on the topic.
  • Druze History by Graham Auman Pitts
    Pitts provides a “summation of what have been key resources for scholars in the Anglo-American academy” with respect to the history of the Druze across the region.

To view our entire listing of Essential Readings installments, please visit the Essential Readings Page.

[If you are interested in contributing an Essential Readings installment as a standalone resource or part of our various series, please contact our Essential Readings Coordinator Jacob Bessen.]