[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the sixteenth in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise three-to-four parts, depending on the number of articles included.]
Acta Politica (Volume 56, Issue 2)
The EU–Turkey deal in the 2015 ‘refugee crisis’: when intergovernmentalism cast a shadow on the EU’s normative power
By: Seda Gürkan, Ramona Coman
Abstract: The aim of this article is to understand why the EU opted to conclude the ‘EU–Turkey refugee deal’ in March 2016 in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis, despite the fact that the agreement deeply contradicts fundamental EU values and norms. The article seeks to explain the outcome—the conclusion of the EU–Turkey refugee deal—by analysing not only the ability of EU institutions to shape decisions, but also their motivations, ideas and preferences in justifying the EU’s actions in responding to the refugee challenge. It is argued that the deal results from ideational and power struggles between supranational (the European Parliament and the European Commission) and intergovernmental institutions (the European Council and the Council of the European Union). It is demonstrated that while the former put forward normative arguments, the latter invoked security as a main concern to avoid internal divisions between Member States. This article also reveals that such ideational and power struggles have consequences for the EU’s identity. Theoretically, the article builds on the new intergovernmentalist claims and on the normative/civilian power literature. Empirically, it explores the usage of normative justifications by EU institutions and points to inter-institutional tensions in framing the EU’s response to the refugee challenge.
By: Dimitri Gugushvili, Laura Ravazzini, Michael Ochsner, Martin Lukac, Orsolya Lelkes, Marcel Fink, Peter Grand, Wim van Oorschot
Abstract: Welfare opinion research has traditionally viewed migration as a potential hazard for welfare solidarity. In this article, we argue that while increased presence of foreigners can indeed make some people less supportive of public welfare provision in general or trigger opposition to migrants’ social rights, the link between migration and solidarity is not universally a negative one. Instead, many people can combine support for migration with high preferences for comprehensive social protection; others can endorse migration while they are not particularly supportive of an all-encompassing welfare state. Based on this line of reasoning we construct a taxonomy of four ideal types of welfare solidarity that are present in contemporary European welfare states. To illustrate the usefulness of this heuristic tool, we apply Latent Class Factor Analysis to European Social Survey round 8 data. We find that the majority of Europeans (56%) combine strong support for both migration and the welfare state (extended solidarity). However, exclusive solidarity is also widely spread as over a quarter of respondents (28%) oppose migration while expressing strong support for the welfare state. People who oppose migration and have relatively low preference for the welfare state (diminished solidarity) represent a small minority (5%). A little more than a tenth (11%) of Europeans endorse migration, but express relatively low support for the welfare state, which we assume to be a reflection of cosmopolitan solidarity. Despite considerable variation in the incidence of the four solidarities across countries, the preference structure is the same for all. Further, we find that at the individual level, the propensity to hold one of these types of solidarities is influenced by social trust, citizenship and country of birth, financial situation, education, and residence type. However, the extent of migration and social spending do not appear to be related with the propensity of holding either type of solidarity as the liberal’s dilemma and the welfare chauvinism theories would predict.
American Anthropologist (Volume 123, Issue 1)
By: Jake Silver
Abstract: Not available
Decolonizing Visual Anthropology: Locating Transnational Diasporic Queers‐of‐Color Voices in Ethnographic Cinema
By: Harjant Gill
Abstract: Not available
American Ethnologist (Volume 48, Issue 2)
By: Hilal Alkan
Abstract: As of 2020, Turkey was home to 3.6 million Syrian migrants who fled violence in their country after the uprisings of 2011. Although they are not recognized as refugees, Syrian migrants have been granted the right to self-settlement in Turkey. The Turkish state has promoted this reception as a form of hospitality and generosity. The state’s elevation of hospitality has been criticized, however, for reinforcing inequalities. More broadly, the concept of hospitality itself has been scrutinized for its immediate affinity to hostility. But as revealed by ethnographic work with Istanbul’s neighborhood aid networks, “hospitality” atthe grassroots level is governed by principles of the gift. In everyday interactions, it can catalyze a cycle of reciprocal returns that may lead to long-term relationships. Countering the argument that hospitality is always paired with hostility, this ethnography shows that it can also turn strangers into relatable Others. [gift, hospitality, neighborhoods, reciprocity, Syrian refugees, Istanbul, Turkey]
American Political Science Review (Volume 115, Issue 2)
By: John P. McCormick
Abstract: Leo Strauss, in Philosophy and Law (1935), offers Platonic theocracy as a more just and stable political alternative to both liberalism and authoritarianism. Rather than merely a scholastic investigation of medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy, I read the book as a programmatic endorsement of a morally perfectionist political order: a divinely legitimated and rationally justified “true” or “beautiful” state. Since human beings require political community to suppress their evil inclinations and promote their disposition toward the good, Strauss criticizes liberalism for contending that government should remain neutral regarding good and evil and modern authoritarianism for effectively committing idolatry by politically instrumentalizing theology. I demonstrate that Strauss’s long-neglected book is particularly relevant for our own “postsecular age,” an age when adherents of religious orthodoxy increasingly demand concessions from liberal democracies and resurgent state authoritarianism frequently cloaks itself in religious trappings.
By: Soroush Rafiee Rad, Olivier Roy
Abstract: Rational deliberation helps to avoid cyclic or intransitive group preferences by fostering meta-agreements, which in turn ensures single-peaked profiles. This is the received view, but this paper argues that it should be qualified. On one hand we provide evidence from computational simulations that rational deliberation tends to increase proximity to so-called single-plateaued preferences. This evidence is important to the extent that, as we argue, the idea that rational deliberation fosters the creation of meta-agreement and, in turn, single-peaked profiles does not carry over to single-plateaued ones, and the latter but not the former makes coherent aggregation possible when the participants are allowed to express indifference between options. On the other hand, however, our computational results show, against the received view, that when the participants are strongly biased towards their own opinions, rational deliberation tends to create irrational group preferences, instead of eliminating them. These results are independent of whether the participants reach meta-agreements in the process, and as such they highlight the importance of rational preference change and biases towards one’s own opinion in understanding the effects of rational deliberation.
Anthropology & Education Quarterly (Volume 52, Issue 1)
‘I Didn’t Know How to Be with My Husband’: State-Religion Struggles over Sex Education in Israel and England
By: Lea Taragin-Zeller, Ben Kasstan
Abstract: Sex education presents a major dilemma for state-minority relations, reflecting a conflict between basic rights to education and religious freedom. In this comparative ethnography of informal sex education among ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) in Israel and England, we frame the critical difference between “age-appropriate” and “life-stage” (marriage and childbirth) models of sex education. Conceptualizing these competing approaches as disputes over “knowledge responsibility,” we call for more context-specific understandings of how educational responsibilities are envisioned in increasingly diverse populations.
Arab Studies Quarterly (Volume 43, Issue 2)
Re-reading Ibn-Khaldun in the 21st Century: Traveling Theory and the Question of Authority, Legitimacy, and State Violence in the Modern Arab World
By: Ahmed Abozeid
Abstract: To illuminate the complicated relationship between the authorities and society in the contemporary Arab world, this paper draws on Ibn Khaldun’s propositions. By applying Edward Said’s notion of traveling theory, it traces, interrogates, and evaluates ways in which multiple readings of Ibn Khaldun’s theory have been (re)formulated, transplanted, and circulated by other authors, and how these theories traveled from an earlier point to another time and place where they come into new prominence. Furthermore, it examines how three contemporary Arab thinkers (Abid Al-Jabri, Abdullah Laroui, and Nazih Ayubi) addressed and interpreted the heritage of Ibn Khaldun and his theory on state formation and authority constitutive in the Arab Islamic world (particularly the Sunni world). The paper concludes that, in comparison with Said’s “traveling theory” intentions, the three modern Arabic readings of Ibn Khaldun’s theory were not traveling as much as it was attempting to uproot, distort, suffocate, and even bury Ibn Khaldun’s original theory, as well as obliterate and culturally appropriate the features of the original theory, and portray it as the opposite of progress and modernization, in favor of enhancing the dominance of Western epistemology.
By: Mohamed Salah Eddine Madiou
Abstract: The world, under Donald Trump’s presidency, inaugurated a “new” way of dealing with international affairs, one abrupt and unapologetic, making the world into a world of warcraft. Trump came up with a “might is right” rule as a “solution” that proved, because official, to be of such a strong force of influence and legitimization it gained inter/intranational traction, impacting the behavior of both the ruling and “less ruling” circles. In this theoretical essay, I locate the necessity to introduce a new concept, Warientalism, that refers to a discourse of power befitting today’s “politics,” and some “politics” of bygone days. It proposes to conceptually define Warientalism, and critically examine its discourse.
The Collapse of Yemen’s Sovereignty by Permanent Violence: A Means of Both Production and Consumption of Value
By: Jude Kadri
Abstract: To defend the thesis of “permanent violence” in Yemen that leads to state failure and in the context of the structural crisis of capital (where Keynesianism has reached its structural limits), this article will look at the Yemeni war through a Marxist lens. It aims to analyze the deep sociological roots of the Yemeni war through the laws of capital as presented by Marx and to show why the Yemeni war is a goal in itself for Imperialism. Three main laws of capital are considered: (1) the general law of capital accumulation developed in Volume I of Das Kapital, (2) the law of the “transformation” of value into price as presented in Volume III of Das Kapital, and (3) the law relating to the contradiction between production and consumption (leading to a crisis of overproduction and a crisis of underconsumption) that was developed by Marx in the Grundrisse, in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, and by contemporary Marxist author, Istvan Mészáros. All of these laws are all tied to the Marxist “law of value” which refers to the idea that socially necessary labor time acts as the ultimate regulating force in exchange and production under Imperialism.
Academic Exchange Programs between China and the Arab Region: A Means of Cultural Harmony or Indirect Chinese Influence?
By: Mohamad Zreik
Abstract: China relies on soft power for its economic and political expansion, and this strategy has proven effective in achieving the goals set by the Chinese administration. China-Arab relations have developed greatly in the past ten years, in parallel with the increase in the number of Arab students in China. This article examines the Chinese soft power strategy towards the Arab region through student exchange programs, and the role of students in the development of Sino-Arab relations. China achieves strategic goals through soft power. A survey was conducted on a group of Arab students in China, specifically in Wuhan, to learn more about the orientations of Arab students towards Chinese policies and to get a clearer idea of life and study in China. The article concludes with new concepts about life in China, and about the Chinese environment, which have proved to be attractive to Arab students.
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 48, Issue 1)
By: Charles Tripp
Abstract: This contribution develops three major lines of argument. Firstly, it argues that identifying ‘popular culture’ is not simply a definitional exercise but is also purposeful and performative. Secondly, it contends that ‘popular cultures’ are always implicated in power relations in multiple ways. Finally, it maintains that using a performative lens adds to our understanding of the political dimensions of ‘popular cultures’. Taking examples chiefly from the Middle East and North Africa, it avers that studying ‘popular cultures’ highlights the links between the political and the performative, understood both as acting out (theatrical) and as bringing into being (effective). The term ‘culture(s) of the public(s)’ is used to capture the idea of the public as a plurality of active citizens, distinct from the politically charged term ‘the people’. These publics claim space as their right, experiencing agonistic encounters with the different generations, genders, classes, ethnicities that use their own repertoires to assert their claims. Thus, the cultures of the plural public can help to fashion the public self as citizen, but for that same reason can also provoke ferocious repression from those who feel most threatened by such a development.
The empire’s opposition strikes back: popular culture as creative resistance tool under Turkey’s AKP
By: Lisel Hintz
Abstract: In the early morning of September 6, 2019, two rap videos expressing frustrations with Turkey’s socio-political condition coincidentally dropped together and quickly went viral. Although one was more overtly political, both videos crystalized the rage, grief, and hopelessness many had been feeling under the 17-year rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The dual release catalyzed a groundswell of online mobilization at a particularly tumultuous moment – one at which mass protest in the form of organized street demonstrations was effectively off the table. As this article argues, however, pushback against the AKP was alive and well in alternative spaces. From rap collaborations challenging corruption and rising rates of femicide to social media users repurposing familiar memes of TV shows with witty political critique, pop culture-themed acts of resistance signalled to others in Turkey’s fractious opposition that they were not alone. This articles addresses an interdisciplinary body of literature that examines the AKP’s deployment of entertainment media to extend its soft power abroad and cultivate a conservative society at home, but turns it around to explore how various opposition actors strike back by taking pop culture into their own hands as a tool of expression, mobilization, and subversion.
By: Jessica Winegar
Abstract: This article analyzes a popular Mubarak era film series (al-Limby) and a post-uprising satirical television programme (al-Bernameg) to show how humour has a powerful capacity to create nonsense out of the ‘sense’ that authoritarian regimes attempt to impose on society. In the Mubarak years, such films presented criticism of rising economic inequalities and state oppression. Post-2011 uprising satire similarly became a primary site for criticism of state oppression and regime politics. They were examples of a redistribution of the nonsensical (drawing on Rancière) and gradual creative insurgency (drawing on Kraidy). Yet at the same time, even seemingly revolutionary humour can reproduce hegemonic ‘common sense’ that upholds broader social hierarchies, particularly those related to gender, class, and religion. Thus, this article argues that humour can be critical to both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary sense-making.
By: Catherine Cornet
Abstract: This article examines Islamist engagement with popular culture in Egypt, focusing on Ikhwān Cinema a cultural intervention launched by a youth group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, following the election of Mohamed Morsi as president in June 2012. Until now, scholars have tended to ignore Islamist-produced popular culture, reflecting assumptions that Islamists are opposed to popular culture, and even culture more broadly. Yet, as this article explores, the Muslim Brotherhood has historically viewed culture as an important vehicle through which to disseminate their ideas and to attract people to the organization. The first part of the article reviews the historical position of the Muslim Brotherhood towards the arts and cinema in order to put Ikhwān Cinema into context. The second part examines the aesthetic content of Ikhwān Cinema’s video productions, specifically created for social media consumption. The third part analyses how the group continued these aesthetics following the toppling of their political leader in July 2013. Overall, the article argues that we can understand Ikhwān Cinema both as a continuation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s historical engagement with culture as well as a case of a post-Islamist trend that seeks to blend Islam with elements of global youth culture.
By: Ebtihal Mahadeen
Abstract: This article analyses the interaction between MyKali, the first LGBTQ webzine/platform in Jordan, and mainstream Jordanian media and society. It explores the moral panics occurring over the 11 years of Mykali’s trajectory, and analyses the webzine’s attempts to resist these panics and articulate its agenda through pop-activism. From inception to censorship, the trajectory of MyKali illustrates the limits of freedom of expression and the articulation of non-heterosexual identities, as well as the role of media panics in enforcing social control in Jordan. This paper is comprised of four main parts: the first introduces MyKali as a queer counterpublic. The second presents the theoretical framework I draw on and the key concepts used in the analysis. The third part presents what I term the discourse of ‘homophobic authenticity’ and its role in the moral panics surrounding MyKali. Finally, in the fourth part I analyse MyKali’s use of pop-activism to stake its claim to Jordanian identity and counter the discourse of homophobic authenticity through a comparative study of two of its most iconic cover images.
By: Polly Withers
Abstract: Palestinian popular music is usually researched through two frameworks: as folkloric identity or resistance to Israeli occupation. This paper stretches beyond these theoretical straitjackets. Based on two-years of qualitative fieldwork in Ramallah and Haifa, it explores how DJs and partygoers negotiate ‘everyday’ power through popular culture. It argues that dancefloors create semi-public spaces where young adults rehearse unconventional identities. Dress and dance assert femininities, masculinities, and queer subjectivities centred on pleasure, joy, and fun. Audience spaces are important sites of identity formation and negotiation. However, since such subjectivities are forged through consumption, youth require money (for clothes, tickets, time) to participate. Undoing gender and sexuality codes therefore relies on class-based hierarchies. Tracing identity embodiments on dancefloors reveal neither dissent nor acquiescence to hegemonic controls. Rather, as class structures cement, gender and sexuality modes shift (which instantiates novel controls). While scholarship tends to link music to resistance in Palestine, gender performances on dancefloors yield nuanced insights into power, play, and social (re)imagination. This, I argue, underscores the pressing need to approach popular culture in MENA and elsewhere beyond the now overdetermined resistance/compliance binary.
‘Lakum ‘Adatkum wa-Lana al-Musiqa’ A critical engagement with the politics of identity, resistance and affect in Mashrou` Leila’s Music
By: El-Nadine Nabli
Abstract: In this article, I explore how the Lebanese band, Mashrou` Leila, enacts resistance, negotiations and subversions through their lyrical and musical outputs, drawing on notions of ‘disidentification’ and ‘creative reckoning’. Through their music, I engage with questions of how marginalized bodies and citizens creatively negotiate and resist hegemonic identity configurations and notions of belonging. To that end, I conduct a close reading of the band’s musical lyrics, contextualize them and analyse their implications politically, socially and emotionally, illustrating the complex process of negotiating various layers of imposed identities and political interests. I particularly focus on their use and (re)imagining of history, language, and pop culture references. I argue that through their creative reckoning with hegemonic notions of belonging and identity, the band creates cultural spaces that enable the (re)imagining of identities, particularly with regards to gender and sexual identities.
The palm tree and the fist. The use of popular imagery in the Tunisian protest songs of the 1970s-1980s
By: Alessia Carnevale
Abstract: The article focuses on the emergence and development of the Tunisian protest song (in Arabic al-ughniya al-multazima) in the late Bourguiba period, and investigates its role in the education, mobilization and galvanization of students, unionists and activists. An analysis of song lyrics and oral testimonies reveals the influence of Gramsci’s ideas on Tunisian leftist artists and intellectuals, who adapted concepts such as, cultural hegemony and common-sense to the local context. Furthermore, the article discusses the significance of the ‘popular’ in relation to these activists’ cultural project. Despite being mainly confined to intellectual and political circles, protest songs made wide use of peasant symbolism, rural imagery and the everyday experiences of workers, revealing the ideological project of the Left, which aspired to assert cultural hegemony over the masses. In the first part of the article I will trace the historical and political background in which this musical scene emerged. In the second and third parts I will engage, respectively, in an analysis of songs by the musical groups al-Bahth al-Musiqi from Gabes and Awlad al-Manajim from Moularès. By tracing the history of the Tunisian protest song, the article sheds light on the production of resistant cultural material under authoritarian regimes.
Returning the megaphone to the people: the Theatre of the Oppressed as artivism in the public space for a new critical citizenry in Morocco
By: Sara Borrillo
Abstract: ‘We return the megaphone to the people’. This is how the activist Hosni al-Mukhlis describes the aim of the Theater of the Oppressed group that he founded in Casablanca in 2012. He was one of the main leaders of the 20 February Movement in 2011 and today he is involved in what he defines as ‘a new social and political pedagogy through art’. Based on interviews and participant observation with Moroccan activists, this article focuses on the Theater of the Oppressed group as an example of the wave of socio-political activism involving artistic practices that emerged after the Arab uprisings in some MENA countries. The paper situates this artivism within the context of political disenchantment and social exclusion experienced in the wake of the failure of the 20 February Movement vis à vis the Moroccan authoritarian politics. The article argues that the Theater of the Oppressed can be interpreted as artivism that generates political transformations, opens critical spaces in the public sphere and promotes emancipatory trajectories for those involved in its mobilizing projects, in functioning as political praxis pursuing a renewed proximity between activists and ordinary people, as well as the creation of a new collective imagination and a critical citizenry.
Comparative Politics (Volume 53, Issue 3)
By: Kristen Kao, Lindsay J. Benstead
Abstract: Many studies of women’s electability in the developing world focus on single traits such as gender, ethnicity, or religion. Employing an original survey experiment in Jordan, we examine the impacts of multiple, intersecting candidate identities on voter preferences. We show empirically that existing theories of electoral behavior alone cannot account for women’s electability. An intersectional lens that considers how power structures shape electability and produce complex effects that must be empirically verified in different contexts is needed. Although less electable overall, female candidates fare as well as males from similar social identity groups. Our findings underscore the need to apply intersectionality to theories of electoral behavior in the developing world and lay the groundwork for a larger research agenda explaining women’s electability in Arab elections.
By: Dina Bishara
Abstract: Why did unemployed university graduates form collective associations in some countries in the Middle East and North Africa but not in others? Despite similar levels of grievances around educated unemployment, reversals in guaranteed employment schemes, and similarly restrictive conditions for mobilization, unemployed graduates’ associations formed in Morocco and Tunisia but not in Egypt. Conventional explanations—focused on grievances, political opportunities, or pre-existing organizational structures—cannot account for this variation. Instead, I point to the power of ideologically conducive frames for mobilization around the time that grievances become salient. A strong Leftist oriented tradition of student unionism in Morocco and Tunisia was necessary for the emergence of a rights-based discourse around the “right to work.” This was not the case in Egypt, where Islamists, not Communists, dominated student politics at the time that grievances around educated unemployment became salient. This article offers one of the first comparative studies of the mobilization of the unemployed in a non-Western, non-democratic context.
Comparative Studies in Society and History (Volume 63, Issue 2)
The Very Grounds Underlying Twentieth-Century Authoritarian Regimes: Building Soil Fertility in Italian Libya and the Brazilian Cerrado
By: Roberta Biasillo, Claiton Marcio da Silva
Abstract: This article analyzes the role of soil in the making of authoritarian regimes and illustrates twentieth-century practices and discourses related to fertility across the globe. It compares two different approaches to and understandings of soil fertility: the first emerged in North Libya under Italian Fascist rule (1922–1943), the second in Central Brazil during the civil-military dictatorship (1964–1985). We compare two soil-forming processes that changed physical and chemical properties of the original matter and were embedded within specific ideologies of modernization. In both cases, state agendas of agrarian production played a paramount role not only in socioeconomic projects but also as an instrument to suppress opposition. Technocratic and political aspects of building and maintaining fertility were interwoven, although in different patterns in the two countries. We show how the rejuvenation of land bled into the regeneration of communities through processes that anchored the self-definition and development of these authoritarian regimes, and argue that attempts at landscape transformations through agricultural activity and strategies of fertilization are inescapable features of dictatorships. In so doing, we elaborate the concept of “authoritarian soil.” The juxtaposition of these non-synchronous cases reveals how agricultural modernization developed throughout the twentieth century. Our study is rooted in environmental history and contributes to the ongoing dialogue between that field and science and technology studies. Its cross-temporal, comparative methodology draws upon sources and historiographical debates in English, Italian, and Portuguese.
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (Volume 41, Issue 1)
Leveraging Alternatives: Early FRELIMO, the Soviet Union, and the Infrastructure of African Political Exile
By: Andrew Ivaska
Abstract: This article explores the place of the USSR in the imagination, circuitry, and everyday practice of the early Mozambican nationalist movement configuring itself in exile in Dar es Salaam. Soviet plans, like those of the US, for engaging African liberation movements were ambitiously imagined, but superpower influence cohered within relatively narrow, if global, corridors. This impact (through funding, scholarships, and more) was at once significant and unfolded in unpredictable ways. The article traces these contingent forms across scales of “comrade life,” from the leadership rivalries playing out between Dar, Accra, Moscow, Washington DC, and Cairo, to the “view from the veranda”: the aspirations, grievances, and material struggles that marked the daily rhythms of life for rank-and-file cadres. What emerges is a less-familiar face of the USSR in Africa. Rather than the Cold War superpower confidently guiding its impact, it appears here as an intimate part of an African-managed infrastructure of political exile.
By: Asif Siddiqi
Abstract: This article explores the biography of a network of Soviet telescopic cameras stationed across the African Sahel during the Cold War. Through joint Soviet-African cooperative programs, scientists used these advanced cameras in Egypt, Somalia, Mali, the Sudan, and Chad to photograph satellites flying overhead to gather data to produce a new model of the Earth, one that Soviet scientists hoped would be an alternative to Western models. I argue that these technical artifacts in Africa, connected into a single global network, represented examples of “infrastructural irruptions” of Cold War technopolitics into African geography, wherein the superpowers placed networked technologies inside postcolonial spaces for the collection of data. Although these technologies were nominally Soviet in origin, the story could also be read as one of Africans who invested their geography with agency in the production of scientific knowledge. Like the socialist moment in Africa and indeed the Soviet Union itself, this camera network no longer exists, its data compromised and its material imprint disappeared. But this “failure” should not blind us to the immanent power of possibility embedded in this incomplete project. I argue that this combination of unbounded aspiration and incomplete materiality was a powerful manifestation of the African-Soviet Modern.
By: Owain Lawson
Abstract: This article writes engineers into the history of Lebanese political-economic thought. Historians of Lebanon’s postindependence period have emphasized how a narrow, elite “consortium” espoused a national ideology that authorized laissez-faire monetary and trade policies. These intellectuals and businessmen invoked environmental determinism to claim that trade, tourism, and services were Lebanon’s national vocation. This article reveals that engineers formed an influential and underexamined countercurrent advocating statist developmentalism. Engineer-bureaucrats saw the postindependence era as an opportunity to claim their profession’s status and redefine bourgeois culture and its relationship to governing institutions according to their conceptions of modernity. By reinterpreting the consortium’s environmental narrative of Lebanese history, the hydrological engineer Ibrahim Abd-El-Al portrayed rational development of water resources and agriculture as an organic expression of national identity. These efforts cultivated a critical and technically literate reading public that favored statism and shaped how that public understood their national subjectivity and relationship to the natural world.
By: Natalie Koch
Abstract: In 2014 the largest dairy company in the Middle East, Almarai, purchased a farm near Vicksburg, Arizona, to grow alfalfa as feed for cattle in Saudi Arabia. Almarai is headquartered at Al Kharj farms, just outside of Riyadh, where it has a herd of more than 93,000 milk cows. Given that dairy and alfalfa farms both require an immense amount of water to maintain, what explains these developments in the deserts of Arizona and Arabia? The answers are historical and contemporary, demanding an approach to “desert geopolitics” that explains how environmental and political narratives bind experts across space and time. As a study in political geography and environmental history, this article uncovers a geopolitics of connection that has long linked the US Southwest and the Middle East, as well as the interlocking imperial visions advanced in their deserts. To understand these arid entanglements, I show how Almarai’s purchase of the Vicksburg farm is part of a genealogy of exchanges between Saudi Arabia and Arizona that dates to the early 1940s. The history of Al Kharj and the decades-long agricultural connections between Arizona and Saudi Arabia sheds light on how specific actors imagine the “desert” as a naturalized site of scarcity, but also of opportunity to build politically and economically useful bridges between the two regions.
By: Foad Torshizi
Abstract: This article examines the works of the Iranian contemporary artist, Ghazaleh Hedayat. It argues that her turn from figural representation to nonfigural abstraction and consequently to what Laura Marks has called “haptic visuality” demonstrates a careful and systematic aesthetic strategy that attempts to confront and at times even exit representation. It shows that Hedayat’s works since the early 2010s offer an affective approach to feminism in contemporary Iranian art that doesn’t hinge on representational modes of expression, which are often susceptible to assimilation into identitarian narratives and inadvertently complicit in various forms of marginalization (gender, ethnic, etc.). Hedayat’s affective feminism not only complicates clichéd interpretations of her work as a non-Western woman, but it also materializes a new form of knowledge more in tune with feminism. Focusing on the female body as a site of pain, friction, tension, love, maternality, and, more significantly, as a site where self and its other—both in terms of gender and ethnicity—encounter each other, Hedayat undermines visibility by way of pushing it across the borders of sight into the realms of visuality, haptic experience, and proprioception.
Contemporary Arab Affairs (Volume 14, Issue 1)
By: Mouldi Benalya
Abstract: This article studies the major transformations resulting from the global Covid-19 pandemic and how to examine it from the point of view of social philosophy through two sub-themes. The first relates to understanding the state of collective panic in Spain, France, and Italy. It is logical that fear of the pandemic should not turn into a state of collective panic in societies living under technologically advanced political systems, except in cases where these societies lack the basic elements on which social ties are based. Therefore, how do we understand the fragility of these social ties in European countries where mass panic is threatening daily life? The second sub-theme is related to the gestures and features of creating a new geopolitical map that has benefitted from the geopolitical retreat of the West to consolidate other political and regional alliances, mainly the Chinese initiative to tender aid to Italy at a time when other European countries turned their backs on and closed their borders with that European Union member state. How do we understand the contribution of the pandemic in forming new geopolitical alliances that could reset the balance of power in the world? We will observe the political behavior of countries that are supposed to be the first to have shown solidarity with Italy, Spain, and France, which are members of the European Union. We analyze the factors related to the erosion of the basis on which classical European society is based, where collective panic represents one of the manifestations of this disintegration. This panic, which was expressed in the rush to buy foodstuffs and the outbreak of a “toilet paper” buying fever that spread throughout Europe and the United States, saw shelves suddenly empty without a direct reason for this fact. Also, the study determines the relationship that binds these factors to the political disintegration expressed in the lack of solidarity from parts of the European Union with the three countries most affected by the pandemic. The second part of the study discusses how China will benefit from these political developments in the West with the prevalence of collective panic due to the pandemic, especially in the case of Italy, and how China is consolidating solidarity relations with these countries, drawing a map of new international political relations as part of its Silk Road project. Also, there is a discussion of the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s study on plague as a theoretical framework.
The New Coronavirus: The Anomia Phenomenon: An Approach to the Impact of the Pandemic on Social Media Networks
By: Benmaghnia Kada
Abstract: The concept of anomia is used as a theoretical reference to analyze the emerging social reality produced by the infiltration of the Covid-19 pandemic into the daily experience of the various discourses and practices as well as the perceptions with which we interact on social media as evidence of the processes produced by the repercussions of the outbreak of the pandemic at the social level. What matters in this paper is to understand the nature of the change that the pandemic has produced at the level of the individual’s relationship with society, and how its sudden emergence has affected social institutions. This paper also asks whether the Coronavirus pandemic is in reality a type of social anomia.
Contemporary Arab Affairs (Volume 14, Issue 1)
By: Lina Suleiman
Abstract: This article uses game theory as a conceptual approach to gain a holistic understanding of the aid policy of donors supporting Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (PNGOs). It asks how the work of donor-funded PNGOs has impacted Palestinian societal common good in general, and who are the winners and losers as a result of their work. Quantitative methods are used to capture the perceptions of the main actors in relation to the societal outcomes of PNGOs’ work and actors’ political and socio-economic payoffs in the occupied West Bank. Most of the findings align with much of the critical research on the negative societal outcomes of the aid policy to the NGO sector, and corroborate that the Palestinian public is a major loser in political terms and the least beneficiary in socio-economic terms.
Changes in Internationalization at Home in Arab Higher Education Institutions: Is it Time to Really Beef Things Up?
By: Rosine Zgheib, Amira Van Loan
Abstract: As global marketplace competition increases, higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Arab world purposefully integrate international and intercultural dimensions into their curriculum, known as internationalization at home (IaH), to empower graduates with the tools necessary to strengthen their economies and be productive global citizens. The purpose of this research is to report changes in the internationalization strategies of fourteen randomly selected Arab world HEIs by looking at six IaH indicators in their mission statements, course descriptions, and strategic plans. The results prioritize internationalization in the HEIs’ mission statements with a twenty per cent increase in the number of indicators between academic years 2014–15 and 2019–20. Additionally, through course descriptions/titles, we found some universities were offering up to 350 courses promoted per indicator, with others offering as few as one course per indicator. We also found sixty-five per cent of the HEIs do not have explicit strategic plans, or rather no or implicit strategic plans incorporating internationalization. As the Arab world attempts to strengthen its economies, HEIs should continue to increase IaH efforts by infusing more of the indicators in their mission statements, courses, and strategic plans.
A Precarious Balancing Act: Globalization, Political Legitimacy, and Higher Education Expansion in Qatar and the UAE
By: Seungah S. Lee
Abstract: This paper explores the dynamics between globalization and local culture in analyzing how higher education (HE) has expanded in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through internationalization. It contends that HE expands through internationalization in part because these Arab Gulf states use higher education institutions (HEIs) to legitimate themselves and gain prominence as internationally competitive societies in a globalized world. At the same time, however, these Arab Gulf states face push back from their more conservative, traditional constituents who criticize the state for “Westernizing” education. Hence, these states simultaneously pursue anti-liberal practices in public HEIs to manage state–society relations, enabling them to maintain both national and global legitimacy. This effort to balance what appears to be two competing interests creates a “dual higher education system.”
Development and Change (Volume 52, Issue 3)
By: Özgür Orhangazi, A. Erinç Yeldan
Abstract: By the end of 2018 Turkey had entered a new economic crisis and a lengthy recession period. In contrast to the previous financial crises of 1994, 2001 and 2009, when the economy shrank abruptly with a spectacular collapse of asset values and a severe contraction of output, the 2018 economic crisis was characterized by a prolonged recession with persistent low (negative) rates of growth, dwindling investment performance, debt repayment problems, secularly rising unemployment, spiralling currency depreciation and high inflation. The mainstream approach attributes this dismal performance to a lack of ‘structural reforms’ and/or exogenous policy factors. However, this analysis shows that the underlying sources of the crisis are to be found not in the conjunctural cycles of reform fatigue, but rather in the post-2001, neoliberal, speculation-led growth model that relied excessively on hot-money inflows and external debt accumulation. This article argues that following the post-2001 orthodox reforms, a foreign capital inflow-dependent, debt-led and construction-centred economic growth model dominated the economy and caused a long build-up of imbalances and increased fragilities that led to the 2018 crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020‒21 further exposed these fragilities, pushing the economy back into a recession with rapid capital outflows causing another round of sharp currency depreciation.
European Political Science Review (Volume 13, Issue 2)
By: Shaul R. Shenhav, Tamir Sheafer, Alon Zoizner, Anita van Hoof, Jan Kleinnijenhuis, Yael Rivkah Kaplan, David Nicolas Hopmann
Abstract: This article contends that an important driver of turnout is the national stories embraced by citizens. We suggest the notion of ‘story incentive,’ whereby adopting a group’s story components – those that connect the past, the future, and prominent national characters – motivates individuals to participate in that group’s political activities. Leaning on narrative theories and studies on voter turnout, we develop and test hypotheses regarding the effect of story components on the likelihood of voting. Our measurements of story incentives are based on election surveys and encompass Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. The results support the main story-incentive hypothesis. We discuss the theoretical ramifications of the connection between adherence to national stories and voter turnout.
International Affairs (Volume 97, Issues 2 & 3)
By: Ali Bilgic, Athina Gkouti
Abstract: European states have adopted strict migration policies, such as unlimited detention in Britain, to address increasing anti-immigrant emotions in the context of rising anti-immigrant populism. These state practices prioritize the feelings of insecurity of some population groups towards immigrants whose emotions and insecurities are politically marginalized. Consequently, whose emotions matter in politics intertwines with whose security matters. This article articulates emotions in politics of security as an entitlement, which feed into the question of who ‘merits’ security politically. By focusing on individuals to whom such entitlement is denied in the context of anti-immigrant populism, it investigates how immigrant women ‘feel’ detention and enact their emotions in their own everyday ‘felt’ security. The research is conducted through in-depth interviews with women who experienced detention in Britain. Through the method of ‘listening guide’ adapted from psychology, the research studies their narratives about their emotions before, during and after detention. By bringing together the feminist research on emotions and ‘everyday security’ approaches in International Relations, this analysis contributes to feminist IR and security studies on women’s agency in the politics of security, by revealing the importance of emotional dynamics in their everyday ‘felt’ security practices. Therefore, it offers a path for feminist IR and security studies to prioritize those whom anti-immigrant populism aims to silence in the age of populism.
By: Isabel Bramsen, Anine Hagemann
Abstract: With the unprecedented COVID-lockdown in 2020, many peace diplomatic efforts turned virtual. This represented a temporary loss of many of the usual practices of peace diplomacy and provided an opportunity to examine micro-dynamics of both virtual diplomacy and face-to-face meetings. Based on interviews with parties and mediators involved in the Syrian and Yemeni peace processes we analyze the affordances of virtual and physical meetings respectively. We find that virtual meetings condition peace diplomacy by broadening accessibility, putting confidentiality at risk, allowing for higher frequency of meetings, often disrupting interaction, but also in some instances equalizing it. The transition to virtual also meetings demonstrated what is lost in the absence of physicality: bodily presence, spending longer periods of time together, the possibility of reconciliatory interaction and sharing informal space. When this is missing, it hampers conditions for what we call the sense of peace, that is, the visceral potential of meeting physically, which we conceptualize to include a sense of understanding, togetherness and trust. We further propose a wider application of this conception beyond peace diplomacy, in the form of diplomatic approachment. Finally, we suggest strategies in virtual diplomacy and discuss how virtual and physical diplomacy may supplement each other.
By: Raffaella A Del Sarto
Abstract: Focusing on the politics of sectarianism in the Middle East after the Arab uprisings, this article advances two main claims. First, it identifies the current climate of insecurity in the region amid major geopolitical shifts as a key condition that allows political leaders to present sectarian identities as being under (existential) threat. However, a heightened sense of insecurity not only acts as an enabling condition but is also the outcome of these sectarian securitization strategies. The ‘politics of fear’ may thus trigger a self-sustaining mechanism, or a vicious cycle. Second, as sectarian securitization has intensified in Israel since the early 2000s, the article discusses the vicious cycle of securitized sectarianism in the case of Israel in a comparative perspective. By drawing the attention to insecurity (or the sense thereof) as a key enabling condition against the backdrop of major disruptive events, and by bringing the case of Israel into the picture, the article contributes to our understanding of the current structure of regional politics in the Middle East. It concludes by reflecting on the impact of sectarian securitization on the region’s conflict potential and the comparability of the Israeli case with those of other states in the region.
By: Hassan Ahmadian, Payam Mohseni
Abstract: Iran’s strategy with respect to Saudi Arabia is a key factor in the complex balance of power of the Middle East as the Iranian–Saudi rivalry impacts the dynamics of peace and conflict across the region from Yemen to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain. What is Iranian strategic thinking on Saudi Arabia? And what have been the key factors driving the evolution of Iranian strategy towards the Kingdom? In what marks a substantive shift from its previous detente policy, we argue that Tehran has developed a new containment strategy in response to the perceived threat posed by an increasingly pro-active Saudi Arabia in the post-Arab Spring period. Incorporating rich fieldwork and interviews in the Middle East, this article delineates the theoretical contours of Iranian containment and contextualizes it within the framework of the Persian Gulf security architecture, demonstrating how rational geopolitical decision-making factors based on a containment strategy, rather than the primacy of sectarianism or domestic political orientations, shape Iran’s Saudi strategy. Accordingly, the article traces Iranian strategic decision-making towards the Kingdom since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and examines three cases of Iran’s current use of containment against Saudi Arabia in Syria, Yemen and Qatar.
International Politics (Volume 58, Issue 2)
Global IR, global modernity and civilization in Turkish Islamist thought: a critique of culturalism in international relations
By: Katerina Dalacoura
Abstract: This article responds to Acharya’s call to integrate deep area studies knowledge and methods into a global IR by presenting the findings of an empirical enquiry into the concept of civilization in Turkish Islamist thought. It delves into primary and secondary sources, in English and Turkish and in particular into the works of a number of emblematic Islamist thinkers in Republican (post-1923) Turkey, to show that their approach to ‘Islamic civilization’ is defined through nineteenth century, modern concepts, shared with so-called Western thinkers and contexts. The conclusions of the study constitute the basis for a critique of the culturalist perspective in IR which treats cultural and civilizational differences as foundational or even immutable. The article posits, instead, that a truly global IR can only be developed if it is underpinned by the concepts of global modernity and global history (as proposed by Buzan and Lawson, among other IR theorists and historians), across an imagined ‘East’ and ‘West’.
International Relations (Volume 35, Issue 1)
By: Gadi Heimann, Lior Herman
Abstract: This article claims that normative arguments play a greater role in negotiations than existing scholarship implies. While the approaches of communicative and rhetorical action limit the use of arguments to environments that meet certain conditions, in fact normative arguments are widely used and can be found in almost every example of negotiations. This article seeks to explain this phenomenon. Negotiating parties that feel obligated to tackle normative arguments raised by the opposing side – either because of the presence of an audience or to maintain its reputation – have a number of tools at their disposal. Negotiators who are unsuccessful in tackling these arguments will tend to offer a proposal that is more attractive to the other side. Although normative arguments do not generally have a sweeping influence on the outcome of negotiations, they are still likely to play a significant role. The article applies this theoretical framework to the case of the lengthy negotiations between the EEC and Israel, in which the former had no material motivation and desire to cede to Israel’s demands and nevertheless did so.
International Studies (Volume 57, Issue 2)
Protest and Regime Change: Different Experiences of the Arab Uprisings and the 2009 Iranian Presidential Election Protests
By: Kamran Rabiei
Abstract: Not available
International Studies Review (Volume 23, Issue 1)
By: Anthony Pahnke
Abstract: We live at a time of heightened nationalism on the political right and left, from the mobilization of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States and Europe, to promoting Palestinian liberation. This article, focusing on Lenin’s work concerning imperialism, shows the importance, yet shortcomings of foregrounding the nation in calling for social transformation. The piece reads Lenin’s contributions on imperialism, highlighting his understanding of strategy and the dual nature of nationalism, in light of debates within Critical Theory more generally. As I argue, Lenin offers insights for Critical Theorists, particularly on the place of nationalism within transformative political projects, as well as on the dynamics of capitalist accumulation and territorial acquisition. Lenin’s work on imperialism draws our attention to the idea that only by mobilizing beyond the state/society binary—which many Critical Theorists and activists reify, sometimes unintentionally—can we explore the nature of emancipatory political action.
Journal of Arabic Literature (Volume 52, Issue 1-2)
By: Muhsin al-Musawi
Abstract: This article argues that scholarship has been missing the pre-Scheherazade dynamic scenes that set the stage for further action and narrative. These preludinal sites function as the stepping stone for action, a series of encounters that initiate and perpetuate instability and disequilibrium. It draws attention to the unnamed queens as prototypes for Scheherazade, the abducted bride, the three ladies of Baghdad, and many other women in unfolding varieties of rebellion or compromise. As there is little talk and more voyeurism in this prelude with its focus on the bedroom and garden scenes, readers and kings are spectators, and the spectacle unfolds as in cinematic close-ups. Hence, this significant turn to the spectacle contravenes common approaches to the frame tale as only an enveloping framework that accommodates an ongoing marvelous story-machine. Although cursorily passed on in scholarship, the bedroom and garden scenes offer us not only a powerful incitement for action, but also a sweeping challenge to authority which the named kings could hardly overcome. The discussion re-situates sites of trial and defiance in context of a flowing narrative. The article proposes therefore to come up with a narrative grammar that engages with current narratology.
By: Marilyn Booth
Abstract: Lebanese-Egyptian Zaynab Fawwāz (ca. 1850-1914) was an unusual presence in 1890s Egypt: an immigrant from Shīʿī south Lebanon, without major family support, she created an intellectual place for herself in the Cairo press, generating a forthright voice on women’s needs as distinct from “the nation’s.” Like most Arabophone writers on “the Woman Question,” Fawwāz addressed girls’ education, but she focused less on domestic training than on work and income, gender-defined dependency, and exploitation. She highlighted gender-prejudiced uses of religious knowledge to further masculine privilege. Framing her arguments within terms of engagement defined by Islamic sharīʿah, she appropriated and redefined keywords for an indigenous feminism. She repurposed the Islamic-Arabic genre of biographical writing for feminist-inflected history writing. I consider how Fawwāz deployed terminology and genre to contest patriarchal readings of Islamic practice sustained by assumptions of masculinist authority. Fawwāz’s writings remind us that secularism was never inherent in Arabophone feminist theorizing, nor were the earliest Arab feminisms Western derivatives. Historical assemblages shaped by Islamic (and Christian) worldviews yielded creative syntheses that were firmly indigenous.
By: Refqa Abu-Remaileh
Abstract: The article reflects on how to embrace the unconventional, fragmented, scattered, transnational, exilic, and refugee elements of Palestinian Literature. Placing the refugees at the heart of the story of Palestinian literature raises serious questions about the compatibility of the national framework as the primary mode of analysis. The article explores the anatomy of Palestinian literature, including the wide array of sources, literary detective work, and expanded methodological toolbox needed to gather its fragments, and illustrates the potential of the digital sphere—drawing on the world of Digital Humanities—to house, express and visualize the data-fragments of Palestinian literature.
By: Gonzalo Fernández Parrilla, Eric Calderwood
Abstract: What is Moroccan literature, where and when does it happen, and in what languages? In this essay, we tackle these questions by tracing the evolution of the definition of “Moroccan literature” from the first half of the twentieth century until the present. The earliest works of Moroccan literary historiography, such as ʿAbd Allah Kannūn’s al-Nubūgh al-maghribī fī al-adab al-ʿarabī (1937), situated Moroccan literature within the Arabic literary tradition and treated Moroccan literature as an important element in the “Arab-Islamic” identity promoted by the Moroccan nationalist movement. Since Moroccan independence in 1956, this definition of Moroccan literature has come under increasing pressure, as the languages and imaginative geographies of Moroccan literature have expanded to include new voices. In what follows, we consider these debates through a survey of a diverse corpus of literary-historical works that throw into question the linguistic, temporal, and spatial borders of Moroccan literature (and of Morocco itself).
By: Qussay Al-Attabi
Abstract: The Lebanese monthly Al-Ādāb is accredited with the dissemination of iltizām, the Arabic rendition of Jean-Paul Sartre’s engagement (commitment). The concept assumed significance throughout the 1950s–1970s. In fact, it is often singled out as the most important literary term of the period. Surprisingly, however, a closer look at Al-Ādāb’s early issues reveals that, despite the forceful circulation of iltizām, indeterminacy and confusion continued to plague the term. Through archival research of Al-Ādāb’s early numbers, this article shows that this indeterminacy contributed to iltizām’s popularity and argues that the dissemination of the term was characterized by an intriguing paradox: while iltizām failed as a term of literary criticism (due in large part to the inconclusive nature of its meaning), it succeeded in fueling robust literary and critical output.
By: Huda J. Fakhreddine
Abstract: This paper examines the work of a sample of contemporary Arab prose poets whose poetic investments exceed the linguistic parameters of previous generations. Unlike the pioneers of the prose poem in Arabic in the early 1960s, the poets of this generation are not interested in interrogating Arabic poetic language or reimagining Arabic literary history. Instead, these poets embrace the Arabic literary tradition as an open multi-generic practice exercised in the space between multiple literary and linguistic traditions. This essay shows how their deliberate detachment from the Arabic poetic tradition, as well as from the inheritance of the early modernists, reveals a relationship with the Arabic language that differs from that of their predecessors. Their poetry is thus born translated: it is multilingual and exophonic in its motivations.
By: Maria Swanson, Rebecca Ruth Gould
Abstract: Drawing on archival research, this article introduces several Russian poems by the Arabic mahjar poet and writer Mikhail Naimy (Mīkhāʿīl Nu’aymah) (1889-1988) for the first time to scholarship. By examining the influence of Russian literature on Naimy’s literary output, we shed light on the role of multilingualism in generating literary identities and in shaping literary form. Naimy’s Russian poetry, we argue, furthers our understanding of the nahḍah as a multilingual movement that synthesized influences from many different languages. We also show how this multilingual orientation served as a bridge between the nahḍah and mahjar literature, by helping Arab writers craft a poetics of Arabic modernism in the diaspora. Alongside documenting an important archival discovery, this research contributes to our understanding of the temporality of Arabic modernism while illuminating its geographically and linguistically diverse substance.
Re-membering Syria’s Traumatic Past: Gender, Poetics, and Loss in Manhal al-Sarrāj’s As a River Should
By: Linda Istanbulli
Abstract: In a system where the state maintains a monopoly over historical interpretation, aesthetic investigations of denied traumatic memory become a space where the past is confronted, articulated, and deemed usable both for understanding the present and imagining the future. This article focuses on Kamā yanbaghī li-nahr (As a river should) by Manhal al-Sarrāj, one of the first Syrian novels to openly break the silence on the “1982 Hama massacre.” Engaging the politics and poetics of trauma remembrance, al-Sarrāj places the traumatic history of the city of Hama within a longer tradition of loss and nostalgia, most notably the poetic genre of rithāʾ (elegy) and the subgenre of rithāʾ al-mudun (city elegy). In doing so, Kamā yanbaghī li-nahr functions as a literary counter-site to official histories of the events of 1982, where threatened memory can be preserved. By investigating the intricate relationship between armed conflict and gender, the novel mourns Hama’s loss while condemning the violence that engendered it. The novel also makes new historical interpretations possible by reproducing the intricate relationship between mourning, violence, and gender, dislocating the binary lines around which official narratives of armed conflicts are typically constructed.
By: Ahmad Agbaria
Abstract: Cultural institutions and publishing houses have been essential to the making of Arab intellectual conversations in the post-colonial era. The publishing house of Dār al-Ṭalīʿah (est. 1959) played a central role in naturalizing social classifications, ideological views and cultural expectations that have influenced the then-new articulation of the notion of Arab authenticity. Yet, al-Ṭalīʿah was more than a publishing house: it was an intellectual hub that sustained intellectuals and unified them into a coherent group. Despite its centrality, however, the group of authors published by al-Ṭalīʿah has rarely drawn the attention of literary critics or intellectual historians. This article rethinks the connection between ideas and their institutional location, rejecting the conventional view that institutions are only secondary to, or even parasitic on, the supremacy of ideas. Looking at the idea of cultural authenticity (aṣālah) fiercely opposed by al-Ṭalīʿah authors, this article examines the ways the publishing house informed the meaning and deployment of aṣālah during the 1960s, even while rejecting it.
Journal of Islamic Studies (Volume 32, Issue 2)
By: Itzchak Weismann, Rokaya Adawi
Abstract: The Salafī version of the Islamic Modernist trend emerged in the late nineteenth century among middle-ranked ulema-cum-intellectuals in the major Arab urban centres of the Ottoman Empire. Modernist Salafīs strove to strike a balance between modernization along Western lines and an authenticity based on the model of the pious ancestors (al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ). They differed from other early modernists such as the Young Ottomans and the celebrated Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī and Muḥammad ʿAbduh by drawing their inspiration from the teachings of the medieval theologian Aḥmad Ibn Taymiyya and his early modern successors, the Wahhābīs and the Indian Ahl-i Ḥadīth. The major components of the quasi-liberal and open religious reform they professed were adherence to the Qurʾān and Sunna, denunciation of saint worship, reasoned ijtihād, selective adoption of Western innovations, revival of the Arab-Islamic civilization, and opposition to autocratic rule.
From conquest to co-existence: Burhān al-Dīn al-Marghīnānī’s (d. 593/1197) re-interpretation of jihād
By: Youcef L Soufi
Abstract: Current scholarship on the legal doctrine of jihād presents classical Sunni jurists after the second/eighth century as uniformly championing continual imperial conquest. In this article, I suggest that this sweeping claim for a uniform doctrine neglects what is distinctive in the argumentation of individual juristic thinkers. I trace the genealogy of of Burhān al-Dīn al-Marghīnānī’s (d. 593/1197) theory of jihād in order to show how he radically reinterpreted the doctrine of Ḥanafī school. He introduced the novel approach that jihād need not to be equated with its outward, formal meaning (al-jihād ṣūratan) of military combat. Rather, beyond that outward sense, jihād also had a deeper meaning (al-jihād maʿnan) based on its purpose or function within international relations. For Marghīnānī, part of this function was the preservation of life, freedom, and property. He was thus able to argue that, so long as they secured these ends, peace treaties fulfilled the deeper meaning of jihad. Marghīnānī’s ideas enabled a shift in Ḥanafī thought whereby jurists after him associated jihād with the realization of benefit (maṣlaḥa) for Muslim society. Rather than advocate the obligation of continual conquest, these jurists accepted that decision-making about war and peace should be determined by pragmatic considerations of social interest.
By: Nicholas Boylston
Abstract: Against the backdrop of recent work on how ‘Islam’ should be understood as a scholarly category, this article focuses in on one particularly striking insider definition of Islam: ‘Islam is whatever takes a man to God, and infidelity (kufr) is whatever prevents a man from the Way of God’. Articulated by the sixth/twelfth century Sufi ʿAyn al-Quḍāt Hamadānī, who was executed on charges of heresy in 526/1131, this definition works as a key component in its author’s critical and constructive projects. Whilst forming part of a vociferous critique of interpretations of Islam as presented by the scholars of jurisprudence and theology, the definition also plays a central role in ʿAyn al-Quḍāt’s reconceptualization of Islam as the dynamic and ever-changing Way to God, rather than a set of fixed doctrines and practices. In this article, I interpret this definition in light of ʿAyn al-Quḍāt’s complex, multifaceted and highly original theory of religious difference, which I suggest provides a theoretical framework in which it becomes evident that ʿAyn al-Quḍāt meant his definition to be taken literally.
Middle East Critique (Volume 30, Issue 2)
By: Billie Jeanne Brownlee, Maziyar Ghiabi
Abstract: The article revisits ‘sectarianism’ as an epistemic venue within the context of a Great Civil War in the Middle East (2001-2021), a label that includes the overarching narratives of political life in the aftermath of 9/11 up to the aftermath of the so-called ‘Arab Spring.’ By introducing the notion of the ‘mythological machine,’ it argues that ‘sectarianism’ is a myth, something that does not exist in real terms, but which has real world effects. The mythological machine is a device that produces epiphanies and myths; it is a gnoseological process, which has cultural, social and political effects through the generation of mythological facts and, as a machine, it does so through both guiding and automatized mechanisms. Through this interpretive shift, the article proceeds through several theoretical steps using a variety of cases from across West Asia and North Africa, contextualizing them within global political events. Firstly, the article argues that it is ‘civil war,’ shaped by the work of the mythological machine that governs state-society relations and transnational politics in the Middle East. Then, the article discusses how the mythological machine incorporates a semantic othering via mythological thinking, speak and practice that shapes the perception and experience of civil wars. To conclude, the article discusses how the mythological machine displaces people’s status in the context of civil wars leading to the emergence of new forms of belonging and nation-making. Ultimately, the mythological machine creates what Giorgio Agamben defines as a state without people, a condition exhausting the value of citizenship and the political.
By: Idriss Jebari
Abstract: The recent revival of interest in Moroccan thinker Abdelkebir Khatibi (1938–2009) around the English release of his seminal 1983 essay, Maghreb Pluriel represents an opportunity to place this thinker in the inner circle of post-1967 Arab thought. This article argues that most coverage and commemoration of him has been devoted to a glorified side of his trajectory that fits neatly within the framework of ‘postcolonial francophone intellectuals.’ However, this article argues that we must revise the meaning of his seminal book and his call for a ‘plural Maghreb’ to see it also as the demise of his project for a decolonized sociology in Morocco, which was necessary to set his sights toward semiology and his significant literary oeuvre. His example informs us on Arab intellectual strategies after the end of grand ideological narratives, and how to write Arab intellectual and cultural histories without succumbing to the trap of nostalgia.
Reception of Rorty’s Thought in Iran: How His Anti-Foundationalism Has Contributed to Iran’s Tradition-Modernity Debate
By: Seyed Mohammad Ali Taghavi
Abstract: Richard Rorty’s controversial works in various areas of epistemology, language, politics and philosophy have drawn intellectual attention worldwide. In Iran, Rorty’s own distinctive way of thinking has attracted the attention of intellectual and philosophical circles. This article explores how his thought as received by Iranian intellectuals has contributed to the development of their ongoing debate on tradition and modernity. A few Iranian intellectuals have tried to find in Rorty’s ideas a solution to what they perceive as their own society’s problems. In particular, they believe his notion of anti-foundationalism and his idea of the priority of democracy to philosophy are ways to reconcile their own traditional philosophical and doctrinal conceptions with modern democratic institutions.
The Political Economy of Nationality-Based Labor Inclusion Strategies: A Case Study of the Jordan Compact
By: Shaddin Almasri
Abstract: In a setting of protracted refugee crises, donor responses increasingly have taken on experimental development approaches. One such aid experiment is that of the Jordan Compact, drafted in February 2016. This aimed to turn the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan into a development opportunity, by fostering job creation and harvesting skills of displaced populations. This brought with it attention from donors in the form of political interest and, more importantly, funding, to stimulate the local economy and labor markets. However, the implementation of this plan was problematic: It focused only on stimulating jobs for Syrians and Jordanians, with little attention given to existing labor market dynamics and other employed nationality groups. Using a qualitative approach informed by both desk research and key informant interviews, this article shows that the policies undertaken have formed a nationality-based prioritization strategy that sought to improve Syrian labor market access over that of other non-Jordanians. The Compact did little to address genuine job creation or social protection, focusing on boosting permit numbers while worsening non-Syrian migrant and refugee access to protection in formal work.
By: Alireza Salehnia
Abstract: This article analyzes the states of Iran and Egypt before the eruption of revolutionary processes in those countries in 1979 and 2011 respectively. Its aim is to delineate the different roles of the armies as the last lethal and organized bastions of dictatorships during those revolutions. In Egypt, the army successfully protected the Egyptian state from a complete downfall, while in Iran, the army became completely disorganized and shattered. It argues that the extreme personal rule of Iran’s shah [king] within a neo-sultanic framework and his extreme depoliticization of the army rendered it unable to act independently during a revolutionary process. In contrast, the distribution of power between the army and presidential palace within an institutionalized dual military state enabled the army to play a much more definitive role during the revolutionary process in Egypt. Consequently, unlike in 1979 Iran, the army in 2011 Egypt not only saved the pre-revolutionary military dictatorship but restored it in a much more brutal way.
Middle East Quarterly (Volume 28, Issue 2)
By: Mordechai Chaziza, Efraim Karsh
Abstract: The 2013 launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s 21st-century grand revival of the ancient Silk Road connecting the Far East and Europe, has transformed the Middle East’s geopolitical role in Beijing’s outlook from exclusively an energy
By: Arvin Khoshnood, Ardavan Khoshnood
Abstract: Tehran viewed the Russian-Turkish-brokered cease-fire of November 10, 2020, which ended the 45-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, with very mixed feelings. On the face of it, the cessation of
By: Daniel Pipes
Abstract: Following a millennium of almost uninterrupted hostility toward Islam and Muslims, Christian hostility toward both declined. In a series of major shifts, European imperialism and secularism overcame the age-old fears of conquest and of false doctrine
By: Taylor Butch
Abstract: In a landmark visit to Tehran in January 2016, Chinese president Xi Jinping and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani signed a “comprehensive strategic partnership” that expanded bilateral ties and trade to US$600 billion over ten years and formally
Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies (Volume 18, Issue 1)
By: Idil: Cetin
Abstract: Not available
Perspectives on Politics (Volume 19, Issue 1)
By: Murad Idris
Abstract: In The Law of Peoples (1999), John Rawls invented a fictional Muslim state that he called Kazanistan. The genealogy of Kazanistan I offer here is the first examination of Islam in Rawls’s papers. It contributes to a critical body of work about the Muslim Question and how Euro-American thinkers construct Islam. In recent years, theorists have turned to Rawls’s papers. The archival turn, however, has neglected the last phase of Rawls’s career and his book-length attempt at thinking internationally. I address this oversight and critically examine Rawls on Islam and global politics. I historicize Rawls’s turn to Islam, Kazanistan’s late introduction, and its transformations across drafts. By examining “the Kazanistan papers,” I highlight the dissonance between Rawls’s philosophical discourse on Islam and the contemporaneous geopolitics recorded in his archives. This disjuncture, I suggest, is characteristic of the logics of liberal deflection from empire and liberal “inflection” into the Muslim Question.
Review of African Political Economy (Volume 48, Issue 167)
By: Fathimath Musthaq
Abstract: Drawing on Samir Amin’s writings, this article proposes a contemporary form of dependency that manifests in the subordinate integration of developing countries into a financialised global economy. Using insights from the emergent financialisation literature, the article updates two themes in Amin’s work: imperialist rent and the role of the peripheral state in perpetuating dependency in the global economy. In contemporary capitalism, imperialist rent is not limited to labour arbitrage but also includes financial arbitrage, and the peripheral state, rather than retreating, now actively manages the financial sphere. The article advances an updated understanding of dependency in the context of financialisation.
By: Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni
Abstract: Samir Amin’s legacy of deployment of Marxist science, dedication to pan-Africanism and commitment to revolutionary liberation of the global South from imperialism and capitalism is re-evaluated from an epistemological vantage point. This is necessary because Amin raised fundamental epistemological issues as he challenged the discipline of economics, built institutions which advanced alternative thinking, and consistently created concepts and theories from concrete situations in the global South in general and Africa in particular. Three main issues stand out. The first is how epistemology shaped modern patterns of domination and subordination within modern Euro–North American-centric internationalism. The second is how intersections of Marxism and decoloniality reinforce a robust critique of modern racial capitalism. The third is how the legacy of Amin enabled a synthesis of Marxism (democratic Marxism of the 21st century), pan-Africanism, and decolonisation (planetary decoloniality of the 21st century) to consistently challenge and oppose the dominant and current imperial/colonial/capitalist internationalism.
By: Max Ajl
Abstract: This paper considers the relationship between Samir Amin’s programme for delinking, smallholder agriculture, his theories of ecology, and the current of ecological dependency that developed out of North African dependency analysis. It argues that ecological forms of agriculture in fact underpinned the original case from which Amin derived delinking – the developmental model of Amin’s China. It goes on to show how collaborators and fellow travellers of Amin like Mohamed Dowidar, Fawzy Mansour and Slaheddine el-Amami advanced the case for smallholder-centred national development, and connects their investigations to Amin’s theoretical framework.
The American Journal of Economics and Sociology (Volume 80, Issue 2)
By: Rafaelle Bertini, Abdallah Zouache
Abstract: The continuing economic stagnation of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has typically been explained in terms of the resource-curse thesis. Yet, without analyzing the geographical constraints of MENA and the institutions of the region, particularly ones that pertain to land and property rights, this explanation is partial at best. Specifically addressing the structural constraints on using land for economic transformation, we offer a new explanation for the underdevelopment of MENA. We show that transformation in agriculture is inhibited by fuzzy property rights in land that were inherited from colonial and post-colonial agricultural policies. Political-economic transformation in MENA could unleash the power of land in the region.
The Journal of Development Studies (Volume 57, Issue 3)
The Effect of Labour-Demand Shocks on Women’s Participation in the Labor Force: Evidence from Palestine
By: Belal Fallah,Marcelo Bergolo,Iman Saadeh,Arwa Abu Hashhash, Mohamad Hattawy
Abstract: Two interesting facts emerge from the Palestinian labour market. Educational attainment for women swiftly expanded during the 1999–2011 period, but the labour force participation rate for educated women stagnated––disproportionately so for young educated women. We investigate whether changes in labour demand has contributed to women’s sluggish labour force participation. Our empirical analysis used quarterly labour-force data published by Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics between 2005 and 2011. To explore the causal effect of labour demand shocks, we use Bartik instrumental variable approach. Our analysis provides evidence that changes in the labour demand for educated women, rather than improvement in overall demand, affect their labour force participation. This research has important policy implications regarding the economic empowerment of educated women in Palestine suggesting that improvement in overall demand may not benefit educated women and that boosting demand for this specific cohort is what matters.
What Drives Female Labour Force Participation? Comparable Micro-level Evidence from Eight Developing and Emerging Economies
By: Stephan Klasen,TU THI NGOC Le, Janneke Pieters, Manuel Santos Silva
Abstract: We investigate the micro-level determinants of labour force participation of urban married women in eight low- and middle-income economies: Bolivia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Jordan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Vietnam. In order to understand what drives changes and differences in participation rates since the early 2000s, we build a unified empirical framework that allows for comparative analyses across time and space. We find that the returns to the characteristics of women and their families differ substantially across countries, and this explains most of the between-country differences in participation rates. Overall, the economic, social, and institutional constraints that shape women’s labour force participation remain largely country-specific. Nonetheless, rising education levels and declining fertility consistently increased participation rates, while rising household incomes contributed negatively in relatively poorer countries, suggesting that a substantial share of women work out of economic necessity.
The Middle East Journal (Volume 75, Issue 1)
By: Jim Krane
Abstract: Not available
By: Marina Eleftheriadou
Abstract: In the wake of its relocation to Lebanon, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) transformed from a guerrilla force into a state-builder. This article explores this transition and argues that the creation of the Palestinian protostate in Lebanon was largely guided by the country’s civil war–induced state collapse after 1975, which created both opportunities and needs that forced the Palestinian movement to engage in state-building. Enticed by new opportunities and constrained by the Lebanese Civil War’s volatility, the Palestinian movement shifted its strategic priorities from cross-border campaigns against Israel to fighting within Lebanon. These new opportunities and needs also encouraged the PLO to transform itself into a semi-conventional force, which led to its defeat in 1982 and the collapse of the Palestinian proto-state.
By: Larbi Sadiki
Abstract: This article investigates Tunisia’s southern “periphery within the periphery,” drawing on original interviews to examine marginalization and center-periphery relations in the country since the 2011 revolution. Comparisons are drawn between the informal economy of cross-border smuggling in Ben Guerdane and the jobless youth of Tataouine being left behind as corporate elites and companies become wealthy from the natural resources extracted from the area. This had led to an embrace of “unruly” protest politics, rebelling against the postrevolutionary political establishment. A trend toward disillusionment with democracy might be on the horizon for the marginalized youth in the south, exacerbating regional cleavages and posing a potential crisis for Tunisia’s democratization.
By: Guy Burton, Nicholas Lyall, Logan Pauley
Abstract: How will China contribute to Syria’s postwar reconstruction? The Syrian regime’s Russian and Iranian sponsors are unlikely to provide sufficient material assistance, while Gulf and Western countries are unwilling to help. This article shows how Chinese support has thus become the Syrian regime’s priority, although China’s state and private firms will be wary of risk. China could also provide Syria with a model for development, but it would be partial as it lacks a peace-building dimension, including the construction of transitional justice.
By: Philippe Droz-Vincent
Abstract: This article argues that the functional continuity of the Syrian state has been a key factor in the “victory” of the regime of Bashar al-Asad in the country’s civil war. State continuity has not only meant first maintaining the structure of the military but sustaining the bureaucracy and preserving its reach within society. While elements of the opposition have been able to create state-like structures, the regime has managed to undermine its competitors and ensure the indispensability of the Asad state, though challenges remain.
Securitization as a Tool of Regime Survival: The Deployment of Religious Rhetoric in Bashar al-Asad’s Speeches
By: Rahaf Aldoughli
Abstract: This article analyzes the role of Sunni Islam in speeches given to religious scholars by Syrian president Bashar al-Asad in 2014 and 2017. I discuss how religion was used in these speeches as a security tool to consolidate authority, legitimize the Ba’thist regime, and marginalize political dissidents. I specifically highlight the emphasis Asad placed on convincing government-recognized ‘ulama to support state security measures and to the novel links he constructed between Islam and national unity.
The Washington Quarterly (Volume 44, Issue 1)
By: Hal Brands, Charles Edel
Abstract: Not available
By: Mikael Wigell
Abstract: Not available
Third World Quarterly (Volume 42, Issue 3)
Arab encounters with Maoist China: transnational journeys, diasporic lives and intellectual discourses
By: Mohammed Turki Alsudairi
Abstract: This paper examines the appeal exerted by Maoist China upon a broad category of Arab onlookers from the mid-twentieth century onwards. It accomplishes this by focussing on the writings of two categories of observers: short-term visitors, who had experienced China through government-organised planned tours, and long-term residents, foreign experts, who had been recruited by the Chinese state as language instructors, translators and editors. Across the ideological spectrum and with a high-degree of consistency, these diverse onlookers articulated highly romanticised images of Maoist China as a model for post-colonial modernity. These sympathetic imaginaries, the paper argues, stemmed less from a systematic engagement with Chinese realities on-the-ground, and more from a sense of anxiety over the Arab world. Maoist China was in essence reconceptualized as a ‘homeland that could have been,’ offering lessons as well as hope for the future as filtered through the ideological biases of these observers. The paper discusses the writings of short-term visitors and long-term residents through a broader retelling of the history of the Arab diaspora in Maoist and early post-Maoist China. It also utilises previously neglected sources, most notably the China-centric works of Salamah ‘Ubayd (1921–1984) and Hadi al-’Alawi (1932–1998), in presenting its key arguments.
Free to decide their destiny? Indigenous resistance to external forms of socialist modernity in Siad Barre’s Somalia
By: Radoslav Yordanov
Abstract: Based on a wealth of original material from Russian and East European archives, in addition to Western primary sources, this paper focuses on the uneasy Soviet–Somali patron–client relationship in the 1970s. It traces the development of Moscow’s stake in Mogadishu since Mohamed Siad Barre’s coup d’état in 1969 and dissects largely futile Soviet attempts at embedding lasting presence in Somalia’s military ranks and security apparatus. As this paper shows, Somalia’s socialist experiment proved a challenging affair on multiple counts, not only for the Soviets but also for the African country’s leaders. Mogadishu’s turn to the left faced serious opposition from within Somalia’s own society, suffered from insufficient commitment and division within the state apparatus, and was confronted by local and international pressures coming from Arab and Western quarters. This cleavage strongly impeded the successful completion of the arduous tasks of socialism-building, resulting in short-lived and largely unsuccessful experiments at little understood social engineering.
World Politics (Volume 73, Issue 2)
Tweeting Beyond Tahrir: Ideological Diversity and Political Intolerance in Egyptian Twitter Networks
By: Alexandra A. Siegel, Jonathan Nagler, Richard Bonneau, Joshua A. Tucker
Abstract: Do online social networks affect political tolerance in the highly polarized climate of postcoup Egypt? Taking advantage of the real-time networked structure of Twitter data, the authors find that not only is greater network diversity associated with lower levels of intolerance, but also that longer exposure to a diverse network is linked to less expression of intolerance over time. The authors find that this relationship persists in both elite and non-elite diverse networks. Exploring the mechanisms by which network diversity might affect tolerance, the authors offer suggestive evidence that social norms in online networks may shape individuals’ propensity to publicly express intolerant attitudes. The findings contribute to the political tolerance literature and enrich the ongoing debate over the relationship between online echo chambers and political attitudes and behavior by providing new insights from a repressive authoritarian context.