[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the eighteenth 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.]
Arab Media & Society (Issue 32)
Pathways to Global Justice: Turning Points, Media, and Palestine Solidarity among Diaspora Jews
By: Emily Schneider
Abstract: This article examines the processes by which Jewish Americans become involved in Palestine solidarity activism through a case study of the non-profit organization, Jewish Voice for Peace. This study finds American Jews tend to attribute their support for Palestine to historical events and media rather than planned activities such as interfaith dialogue and awareness-raising initiatives. In addition, despite popular perceptions that understand Jewish Americans’ paths to supporting Palestinians as uniquely arduous, my data suggest that most Jewish activists in the Palestine solidarity movement did not go through major ideological transformations to arrive at their positions. Instead, support for Palestine appears to be more ideologically accessible to Jewish activists than previously theorized. These findings suggest that media can serve as a powerful force to reorganize diasporic commitments and generate transnational support for justice and peace in the Arab world. They also imply that Western support for anticolonial struggles in the Middle East is more likely to be won through accurately reporting on such events rather than more targeted interventions designed to change people’s minds. While many social change organizations devote considerable resources to shifting the thinking of people who oppose their cause, my data suggest that such resources may be better spent mobilizing these groups’ existing bases.
The Unspoken Agenda of Houthi Digital Poetry in Yemen’s Current War Crisis
By: Ammar Naji
Abstract: This article examines how the Houthi rebels in Yemen use tribal poetry as a propaganda platform to influence public opinion about the current war crisis in the country. By digitalizing Yemeni oral popular poetry, zamil, in the form of motivational war songs and YouTube videos, the Houthi militia group is able to attract young supporters, and publicly denounce Saudi airstrikes and the international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. While the study unpacks the hidden agenda of Houthi digital poetry and its multiple underpinnings, it sheds light on two important findings: 1) the understudied role of Houthi media campaign the way it’s been used as a digital weapon to advance Yemen’s Shiite militia movement, 2) how the Houthi use of social media revived a Yemeni poetic tradition, zawamil (plural of zamil) to disseminate a wide populous sentiment against the Saudi-led coalition and the United Nations Security Council in this civil conflict.
Superior, Violent and Aggressive: Hegemonic Masculinity in Arabic Music Videos
By: Sahar Hamdan
Abstract: Free access to music videos on YouTube has allowed generations of consumers to be exposed to songs from their favorite artists on a daily basis. Presented in the form of music videos, these songs contain visuals that carry several themes including the glorification of violence and the dominance of men over women (Sherman and Dominick 1986), and the sexual objectification of women (Kozman et al. 2021). The effects of this exposure on people have been shown to affect day to day attitudes and behaviors, especially among the youth (Johnson et al. 1995). Although Western music videos have been the subject of numerous research studies, research on Arabic music videos is nearly non-existent. This study sought to examine the prevalence of the violence and aggression of men in Arabic music videos using Gramsci’s theory of hegemonic masculinity. The study performed a qualitative textual analysis on a sample of 10 Arabic music videos that are popular for containing instances of violence and supremacy of men. The analysis returned three themes that reflect basic tenets of hegemonic masculinity: the patriarchal values and superiority of men, female subordination, and violent behavior.
Arab Studies Journal (Volume 29, Issue 2)
The Liminal Intellectual: A Contrapuntal Reading of Abdellatif Laâbi’s
By: Sonja Hegasy
Abstract: Theodor W. Adorno2 Using a biographical approach to liminality, this contribution thinks through a book-length letter published in French in 2013 by the eminent Moroccan poet, writer, translator, and public intellectual Abdellatif Laâbi (b. 1942) titled Un autre Maroc (Another Morocco).3 In this work, Laâbi engages with his compatriots to rethink Morocco’s postcolonial history. Today, human rights advocates and critical thinkers are clearly once again in the iron grip of the makhzan (the royal Moroccan dominion), bringing back memories of the long reign of Mohammed’s father, Hassan II.15 Laâbi’s letter, in turn, is a plea to remember the aspirations of his own generation for political sovereignty, state accountability, and equal civic rights following independence. The exemplary nature of Laâbi’s open letter-not only for intellectuals, but also for a majority of citizens who have encountered police violence and the arbitrariness of state institutions-leads me to the preliminary conclusion that crimes of opinion do, in fact, extend beyond the essentially political and intellectual elites: daily practices or necessities of daily life lead to situations where ordinary citizens are punished alike for expressing their opinions. Liminality as Experience Following the “years of lead,”18 a period of repression and grave human rights abuses following independence in 1956 and continuing to the 1990s, prison writings flourished.19 They remain a widespread genre in Morocco today.
The Maghrib in Spain: An Outer-Inner Space
By: Carlos Cañete, Gonzalo Fernández Parrilla
Abstract: Not available
“Collecting Bosoms”: Sex, Race, and Masculinity at the Pan-African Festival of Algiers, 1969
By: Paraska Tolan-Szkilnik
Abstract: The Pan-African Festival of Algiers of 1969 (referred to as PANAF) drew over five thousand people as part of a quest for African unity. They included individuals from forty African countries as well as diasporic militants from around the world. While there, they witnessed Black American singer Nina Simone’s first rendition of Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas” (Don’t Leave Me), South African activist Miriam Makeba singing in Arabic, Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver’s reappearance after fleeing the United States, and many more iconic moments in Pan-African lore. Long ignored in scholarship and other writings, scholars, journalists, and curators have recently begun to revisit these few days of July 1969 and celebrate the festival as an unprecedented-and since unrivalled-moment of anti-imperialist unity. In so doing, they have identified, made accessible, and highlighted valuable archival documents and footage. In 2010, the European TV channel ARTE restored William Klein’s 1969 documentary film, FestivalPanafricain d’Alger (Pan-African Festival of Algiers)-a once very difficult film to find. In 2020, the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris organized an exhibition featuring memo- rabilia from the festival, a large program of panels, and an evening of dancing titled “We Have Come Back,” in homage to Black American beat-poet Ted Joans’s 1969 Algiers performance. Works such as Elaine Mokhtefi’s Algiers, Third World Capital: Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthers have also generated an interest in Algeria’s place in Pan-Africanism, or as one writer for The Nation put it, Algeria’s attempt at “building another world.” This article analyzes the radical miscomprehension that took place among PANAF participants-one that is inherent to any attempt to “build another world.”
Al-Qahira-Baghdad: The Transnational and Transregional History of Iraq’s Early Cinema Industry
By: Pelle Valentin Olsen
Abstract: Not available
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 48, Issues 3 & 4)
Beirut on the stage: the Great War in melodrama
By: Eugene Rogan
Abstract: In the immediate aftermath of the First World War, two nationalist theatre companies in Beirut staged a new play in 1919 encapsulating the civilian hardships of four years of the war. While little is known of the author, George Murad, details from the preface and dedication to the printed edition would situate him among pro-French Maronite Christians seeking independence for a greater Lebanon under French protection. The play, “Beirut on the Stage,” would appear to have been an example of political theatre seeking to validate the wartime suffering of Lebanese Christians through a vision of independence that, by the time the play was published in 1920, had already been undermined by French measures to colonise, rather the liberate, Greater Lebanon.
The metamorphosis of social movements into political parties. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Tunisian al-Nahda as cases for a reflection on party institutionalisation theory
By: Barbara H. E. Zollner
Abstract: The article studies newly established parties with roots in social movements. Using the post-Spring development of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Tunisian al-Nahda as in-depth empirical cases, the study reflects on prevalent theoretical explanations for the transitions of social movements into political parties. The paper argues that extant literature on party system institutionalization and the development of social movement organizations do not adequately explain the driving factors for the transition process of movements into parties. A focus on party systems does not take note of the dynamics of movement-party relations, while social movement theory remains steeped in conceptions of institutional evolution and ‘natural progression’ in politics. When rethinking party institutionalization, it needs to be recognized that it is a precarious process during which features of social movement activism overlap with the formalized engagement that characterizes political parties. The comparative study of the Muslim Brotherhood-led Freedom and Justice Party and the Tunisian al-Nahda Movement and its al-Nahda Party exemplifies that the degree to which leading parties emancipate themselves from the guardianship of their ‘mother-organizations’ is an essential factor for democratic state-building.
Islamic international law: an emerging branch of law which answers the contentious question of ‘authority to use force’ in Islamic law and politics
By: Mohammad Sabuj
Abstract: ‘Authority to use force’ has been a subject of contentious debate, not least among the academics, politicians and lawyers, since the oft-occurrence of use of armed forces by non-state actors and terrorist groups in modern world. Since 9/11 terrorist attacks, most use of force by non-state actors and terrorist groups, which occurred primarily in Muslim majority states, have been categorized as acts of terrorism. This categorization has been made without any rational or sound scrutiny of such use of force and accordingly resulted in controversies. This article is a historical, legal and political account of Islamic international law on the use of force. It defines and interprets the fundamental principles of use of force in Islamic international law, such as jihad, and analyses the significance of those principles in scrutinizing legal and political authority to use force at the state level and inter-state level.
Interpersonal metadiscourse in the English translations of the Holy Quran
By: Ilknur Savaskan
Abstract: The holy book for Muslims is the ‘Quran.’ The Quran is written in Arabic and due to its nature, is accepted as sacred, its divine revelation—it’s being the word of God. The Quran, after its revelation has been translated into many languages. Whether Muslim or not, people who do not know the Arabic language are unable to read the Holy Quran, the source text in its original language, but somehow this needs to be communicated. As a result, the demand for religious or Quranic exigencies occurred and this was met through various discourse types such as interpretations, translations or translations of meaning. The present study attempts to investigate, how interactive and interactional metadiscourse markers were employed in the Surah Yaseen, in three different English translations of the Quran. These Quran translations belong to Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, Abdullah Yusuf Ali and IFTA, and Talal Itani. As can be seen from the present study, metadiscourse markers employed by these translators of the Quran, have presented the Quran readers with a sense of the translator’s own identity and selected mode of interaction.
Nature as a road to integration? A Saudi experience
By: Gail Ramsay
Abstract: Well-being through outdoor life and ecolacy are fundamental concepts in sociological research with regard to the question whether nature is instrumental for integration into some Western societies. In this article, we ask if the Saudi Arabian protagonist in Muḥammad Ḥasan ʿAlwān’s novel, al-Qundus, (The Beaver), 2011, becomes a part of, ‘integrated in’, North American society by means of ecolacy. An ecocritical and sociological reading, which takes into account human and non-human communication, shows that the protagonist does not become integrated into the North American society to which he has immigrated by way of his acquired ecolacy. Rather, his steps towards ecolacy seem to lead to self-knowledge and reconciliation with his family members in Riyadh rather than being a conduit to integration.
Local Ambivalence in the Arabistan-Basra Frontier, 1881-1925
By: Shaherzad Ahmadi
Abstract: The historiography of Ottoman-Qajar frontiers emphasizes the European creation and promulgation of border control and ethnonationalism. This article considers the way that border dwellers in the Iran-Iraq frontier greeted border enforcement, nationalism, and racial politics. Despite the zeal with which local elites accepted these European ideas, the Arabs of southwestern Iran paid little attention to the policies emanating from Tehran. Europeans, in fact, noted their disinterest and argued that the concept of nationalism, borders, and race did not carry potency in Arabistan, Iran’s southwestern frontier. Although historians emphasize the birth of nation-states and the decline of empires in the Middle East at turn of the twentieth century, this article considers the ambivalence with which communities in an oil-rich frontier greeted the new ideological constructions of race and borders.
Consensus vs. dissensus over the ‘civil state’ model: a key to understanding the diverse outcomes of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia
By: Limor Lavie
Abstract: The ‘Jasmine Revolution’ that toppled Tunisian president Zine al-‘Abidine Ben ‘Ali on 14 January 2011, and the 25 January 2011 uprising that toppled Egyptian President Husni Mubarak had similar characteristics yet different outcomes. While the Tunisian experience led to democratization and to a non-violent transfer of power, the Egyptian one led to a reversion to authoritarianism through a military coup and to bloodshed. This paper suggests that the key to understanding the diverse outcomes of the Arab Spring in these countries is the prevalence of consensus/dissensus in each society over the most suitable state model for the post-revolutionary era. The existence of an agreed-upon vision for the post-Arab Spring state in Tunisia—a vision of a ‘civil state’—and a wide controversy over such a model in Egypt was a pivotal factor influencing the level of socio-political cohesion during the transitional period, hence determining whether it is destined for success or failure. A prior agreement between Islamist and Secularist opposition groups over the civil state model spared Tunisia the turmoil that Egypt went through due to the polarization over the desired state model in the post-Mubarak era, which served as a catalyst for the 2013 soft coup against the Muslim Brothers elected president.
Solidarity theologies and the (re)definition of ethnoreligious identities: the case of the Alevis of Turkey and Alawites of Syria
By: Nukhet A. Sandal
Abstract: Alevis of Turkey and Alawites of Syria have different origins, traditions and political experience. After the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, Turkish government took a clear stand by supporting the Sunni rebels fighting the Syrian state forces. This enthusiastic support for the Sunni segments was accompanied with condemnations against Syrian Alawites and discrimination against the Alawite refugees. The civil war in Syria and the Turkish government’s response to it brought Alevis of Turkey and Alawites of Syria closer and created a solidarity based on close religious beliefs. Alevi community in Turkey provided assistance to the Alawite refugees from Syria and Alevi leaders started to create a narrative focusing on identity similarities between and common threats against the Alevis and Alawite communities. Using interviews and public statements, this article shows how the securitization of identities and discrimination can result in new units of advocacy and belonging.
Divergent opposition to sub-Saharan African and Arab migrants in Morocco’s Casablanca Region: prejudice from the pocketbook?
By: Matt Buehler, Kyung Joon Han
Abstract: Since the early 2010s, the global migrant crisis has led to the mass inflow of foreign migrants, refugees, and other displaced persons into numerous countries. Whereas some native citizens have welcomed these migrants, a large number have expressed opposition. Most theories explaining why citizens express opposition to migrants emerged from evidence collected in developed, European countries. Yet, developing, non-Western countries especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have borne the brunt of today’s migrant crisis. This study uses an original survey of 1500 citizens conducted in Morocco’s Casablanca-Settat region to explore how effectively traditional theories explain opposition to migrants amongst citizens of the MENA. Like those in many North African countries, Morocco’s migrants hail mostly from Arab countries (e.g. Syria, Iraq) or sub-Saharan African countries (e.g. Nigeria, Congo). We find the expected citizen opposition to migrants, but also that this opposition is more intense with respect to migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. While recent studies of Europe emphasize how cultural differences drive opposition to migrants, our results indicate that material issues—concerns about migrants’ negative effects on the economy and internal security—tend to motivate such attitudes in Morocco. Concerns about cultural conflicts and other immaterial differences play a smaller, secondary role.
Signaling reforms through election results: how a Moroccan opposition party demobilized protests
By: Sammy Zeyad Badran
Abstract: Elections within authoritarian contexts and social movements have been thoroughly, yet separately, studied. This article jointly analyzes these different phenomena in order to demonstrate how electoral results can affect protest demobilization. My interviews with the February 20 Movement (F20), the main organizer of mass protests in Morocco during the Arab Spring, reveals how the parliamentary victory of an opposition Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), helped lead to the F20’s eventual halt of protests. During my fieldwork, I conducted 46 semi-structured elite interviews with civil society activists, political party leaders, MPs, and independent activists throughout Morocco. This article argues that the 2011 victory of an opposition Islamist party, which had not previously been allowed to win a plurality of parliamentary seats, played a major role in quelling protests. The ushering of Islamists into power following the Arab Spring is often viewed as a threat to the state. In Morocco, however, the winning of the PJD in parliamentary elections signaled to the public that change had occurred and convinced many Moroccans that a social movement for change was no longer needed. Said differently, the state needed Islamists to win.
The Lebanese Civil War and post-conflict power sharing: continuation of conflict dynamics in post-conflict environments
By: Andrew Delatolla
Abstract: Lebanese political dynamics are often characterized by political confessionalism, neo-liberal economics, corruption, and its particularity as an Arab state with Western social orientations. Although these characterizations may seem, at times, contradictory, this article argues that they are part of a political structure that initially developed during the Civil War (1975–1990) that was sustained by Lebanon’s post-conflict power sharing agreement. This article builds on the critiques present in the developing scholarship on post-conflict power sharing, demonstrating how dynamics established as a consequence of the Civil War continued into the post-conflict period. This has led to the reproduction of sectarian boundary inflammation, limitations on democratic and civil society mobilisation, and political stagnation. The article concludes with an analysis of the 2015 Garbage Crisis as exemplary of sustained Civil War dynamics and the consequent constraints on civil society mobilisation caused by these dynamics.
Mollā Nasreddin and the creative Cauldron of Transcaucasia
By: Janet Afary, Kamran Afary
Abstract: In the early 20th century, a group of artists and intellectuals in Transcaucasia reinterpreted a Middle Eastern trickster figure to construct a reformist and anti-colonial Muslim discourse with a strong emphasis on social and political reforms. Using folklore, visual art, and satire, their periodical Mollā Nasreddin reached tens of thousands of people in the Muslim world, impacting the thinking of a generation.
A Palestinian window of opportunity? The PLO, the US and the Iranian hostage crisis
By: Jørgen Jensehaugen
Abstract: When the US embassy in Teheran was stormed in 1979, and the embassy personnel taken hostage, the PLO saw an opportunity to engage with the United States. Since the early 1970s the PLO had tried to open a political channel with the USA. While several back-channels had been attempted none resulted in direct political talks between the US and the PLO. The US was bound by a secret agreement with Israel, as part of Sinai II, having promised not to negotiate with the PLO. When the US hostages were taken in 1979, the PLO attempted to use their contacts in the new Iranian regime to negotiate on behalf of the US. While this channel did not result in a major breakthrough in the hostage negotiations, it is a case which illustrates a paradox in US Middle East policy: The US was unwilling to negotiate with the Palestinians when it was their conflict that was at stake, but once US lives were in the balance, the US administration was more than willing to open a direct channel to the PLO. Arafat, for his part, was equally willing to step up, hoping to make political gains further down the line.
Treacherous friends or disenchanted masters? Russian diplomacy and Muhammad ‘Ali (Shah) Qajar, 1911-1912
By: Alisa Shablovskaia
Abstract: Since the beginning of the XIXth century the relations of dependency and inter-dependency between the Iranian monarch and foreign officials became an integral part of Iranian political life. During the Iranian Constitutional Movement (1905–1911) nascent Iranian nationalism harshly condemned the Qajars as tyrants and lackeys of foreign powers. Muhammad ‘Ali Shah (r.1907–1909), the first Qajar sovereign who had to share his powers with the representative assembly, was quickly discredited by his political opponents as despot and Russian puppet, an accusation that seemed to be proved when the deposed Muhammad ‘Ali returned to Iran from his exile and launched a military campaign. This study represents an attempt to shed more light on the relations between Muhammad ‘Ali and Russian officials, especially in the context of his return campaign of 1911. Relying mostly on unpublished Russian archival sources, this paper proposes a critical assessment of Muhammad ‘Ali’s link with Russia, avoiding the habitual reductionist scheme of ‘patron-client’ relations and putting more emphasis on the role of agency in Russian foreign policy in Iran as well as the proper intentions and ambitions of the Qajar princely elite.
ISIS genocide against the Yazidis and mass violence in the Middle East
By: Vicken Cheterian
Abstract: The mass violence inflicted by the radical Islamist fighters of the ‘Islamic State’ organization on the Yazidi population of Iraq is the latest of modern genocides. The violence has placed this little known but ancient community of the Middle East at the centre of international attention, triggering direct international intervention in the fight against ISIS. This article aims to study the motives of ISIS in attacking the Kurds of northern Iraq and in particular the Yazidi population. It will also study the contradictory narratives that emerged in the aftermath of the attack to use it to critically challenge the grand-narratives of the modern history of the Middle East. If one writes the history of the Middle East from the experience and the perspective of the Yazidis, it will be a radically different one than those found in our history books. Hence, its subversive potential that needs to interrogate us.
Friday sermons and the complexities of standardization in the late Ottoman Empire
By: Omer Faruk Topal
Abstract: This study aims to examine the nature and success of Ottoman modernization in the realm of religious practice by studying the central state’s attempts to standardize Friday sermons, or the hutbe. This study claims that the hutbe was a site for the negotiation of local and central power, both separately and in relationship to one another. Changes in the form, content, and medium of the hutbe in the late nineteenth century reveal that the central state was not the only actor that influenced the hutbe. Local populations and power holders, administrators, and clerics played a crucial role in determining the appointment of the preachers and the content of the hutbe, which in practice did not always serve state interests. The hutbe was not always a venue for state propaganda; it was also a venue in which local demands, discontents, and dissatisfactions were expressed in different ways. In other words, the process of standardization of religious practices and beliefs was not a top-down, state-centric development in which local actors were passive receptors. The main purpose of the study is to demonstrate the complexities, contingencies, and mediations in the standardization and centralization policies of the empire throughout the late nineteenth century.
Hannah Arendt, the human condition and the embrace of human diversity in the discourses of two contemporary Islamists: Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zahra (1898–1974) and Sheikh Wahbah al-Zuhaili (1932–2015)
By: Sami E. Baroudi
Abstract: This paper’s departure point is Hannah Arendt’s assertion that the ‘human condition’ is defined by our ‘plurality’. It contends that without having read Arendt two contemporary Islamists – Sheikhs Muhammad Abu Zahra and Wahbah al-Zuhaili – arrive at similar conclusions regarding the human condition. While Arendt draws on European thought, Abu Zahra and Zuhaili anchor their views in the Islamic tradition. The literature has tended to treat these two mega-traditions – the largely secular and liberal western tradition and the Islamic tradition – as being at odds. The contribution of this paper lies in demonstrating that scholars who belong to these two traditions can often make similar assertions regarding the centrality of diversity to the human condition. The paper demonstrates how the two scholar-sheiks draw on the Islamic tradition to argue that the grouping of humanity into separate nations and religions is natural and divinely ordained. Abu Zahra and Zuhaili maintain that peace is the norm in the relationship between Muslim and non-Muslim states, since religious differences do not constitute valid grounds for fighting. While they anchor this assertion in the Islamic tradition,it also reflects their embrace of Arendt’s liberal notion that as humans we are defined by our diversity.
Changing texture of childhood: Palestinian children as new leisure consumers in mandatory Haifa
By: Maayan Hilel
Abstract: During the British Mandate, the city of Haifa in Northern Palestine undergone profound cultural transformation which was manifested in the flourishing of a new range of public and commercial forms and institutions of leisure. This article analyses the ways in which Palestinian children in Haifa became legitimate and key consumers of these leisure arenas and examines the development of a cultural array especially designated for them. This, I argue, reflected the emergence of a new conception of ‘childhood’ as a socially constructed category of identity, which marked a separate phase in life, with its own specific qualities and needs. The article also shows how the shifts in the social status of children brought about inter-generational tensions that intensified in light of the political tension and the national struggle. It sheds light on the substantial expectations, which were placed on children’s shoulders with regards to the future of the budding nation.
From critical to comprehensive dialogue: the effectiveness of the EU’s policy towards Iran (1992-1998)
By: Omran Omer Ali
Abstract: This article analyses the EU’s policy towards Iran from 1992–1998. It seeks to address the question of to what extent the EU was effective in dealing with Iran. It unpacks the concept of effectiveness and explores the link between internal effectiveness—that is, whether the EU manages to act cohesively and purposefully—and external effectiveness—that is, whether the EU is able to reach the goals it sets for itself in the international arena. During these years, the EU focused its attention on various key issue areas, such as human rights, terrorism, and the fatwa against the British author Salman Rushdie: progress in these areas was set as condition for fuller cooperation. This study discusses that the EU did not speak with one voice and in various instances clashes between EU Member States became evident. It concludes that the EU’s low internal effectiveness translated into low external effectiveness and therefore the EU failed to achieve its stated goals.
Temporary and permanent body modifications in medieval Islam: the legal discussion
By: Hadas Hirsch
Abstract: The fact that Muslim life depends on jurisprudence accords the legal discussion a monopoly over rulings regarding body adornments and body modifications. Jurisprudence serves as a mechanism for creating norms, but at the same time these norms reflect the tension between contradictory tendencies. The jurists’ creative solution, namely, a division of body adornments and modifications into categories of permitted and prohibited, each according to the criteria of temporary or permanent, enables them to tolerate some, while excluding, condemning, and forbidding others. The presentation and analysis of some popular body adornments and modifications will reveal body perceptions, the beauty myths of medieval Muslim societies, their making, and formulation by the jurists.
Blackface in Egypt: the theatre and film of Ali al-Kassar
By: Alon Tam
Abstract: Othman the Nubian was the recurrent role of famous stage and film comedian Ali al-Kassar. Its immense success turned it into a cultural icon in Egypt during the first half of the 20th century, which helped in shaping popular perceptions of black Egyptians. This study traces how al-Kassar positioned this black character within the Egyptian national family, even pitching him as an All-Egyptian figure. At the same time, he undermined this position by marking Othman’s skin colour and accent as inferior, and by associating him with other ‘foreign’-Egyptians. This study also examines how al-Kassar popularized rarefied discourses about Egyptian nationalism, cultural orientation, women, gender relations and sex, while embodying them in a black character. It follows the transformations this character has undergone through time, and what it meant for the representation of black Egyptians. It argues that social class was the most salient intersection with race in that representation, and shows how what was meant to garner support for black Egyptians, also locked them in the lower end of the social hierarchy, and was distant from their lived experiences.
A past to be forgotten? Writing Ottoman history in early republican Turkey
By: Erdem Sönmez
Abstract: Scholars of modern Turkish history have long asserted that Ottoman history and historiography were effectively silenced by the Kemalist elite in the early republican period. According to the existing scholarship, the Kemalist nation-builders regarded the new republic as the exact opposite of the ‘cosmopolitan’ Ottoman Empire, discrediting it as an illegitimate ancien régime. As a result of this break with the Ottoman past, which entailed the destruction or silencing of everything recalling it, the study of Ottoman history was discouraged and Ottoman historians were pushed to the margins of academic and intellectual life by the single-party regime. This article problematizes this widely accepted and oft-repeated argument that not only derives from but also reproduces the stereotyped perspectives on modern Turkish history. Focusing on the historical literature produced in the 1920s and 1930s, exploring the relationship between the single-party regime and Ottoman historians, and examining the temper and content of contemporary works on Ottoman history, this article aims to present a more nuanced picture of early republican Turkish history and historical writing, and argues that Ottoman historiography, which had already received a nationalized vocabulary and agenda before the republican era, continued to flourish in its own realm throughout all this period.
De facto states engagement with parent states: Kurdistan’s engagement with the Iraqi Government
By: Kamaran Palani, Jaafar Khidir, Mark Dechesne, Edwin Bakker
Abstract: Despite the growing interest in the phenomenon of engagement without recognition within de facto state literature, the concept remains under-analysed. Through an analysis of Kurdistan’s engagement with the Iraqi government, this article aims to answer the following questions: What are the de facto state’s authorities’ policies of engagement with parent states? And how does internal political rivalry affect the policies of engagement with parent state? The study highlights the importance of a de facto state’s internal political rivalry in the question of engagement with a parent state, a point on which the literature has not paid enough attention. The portrayal of Baghdad among the Kurds, which is instrumental in the relationship between Kurdistan and the Iraqi government, is heavily partisan. As the dynamics of the political rivalry between Kurdistan’s two main centres of power change, the image of Baghdad among the Kurds as a source of threat or opportunity is also altered.
International Journal of Middle East Studies(Volume 53, Issue 4)
The Mechanical Atatürk: Cybernetics and State Violence in the Second Turkish Republic
By: Joakim Parslow
Abstract: Turkey’s 1960 military coup d’état was received by Kemalists in the courts, bureaucracy, and universities as an opportunity to reinvigorate Atatürk’s ideal of a centralized and rationally organized state. This article investigates how a handful of avant-garde thinkers sought to ride the post-1960 wave of reformism by promoting a techno-utopian approach to governance through publications and seminars aimed at state leaders and intellectuals. Cybernetics, they argued, offered a paradigm of adjudication and administration unblemished by association with the ascendant ideologies of the Cold War, whether socialist or conservative, and was fully in keeping with Kemalism. I argue that, although it remained largely at the stage of fantasy, Turkish cybernetics ultimately served as a set of metaphors with which conservative state thinkers from different political camps found common ground, facilitating the shift that occurred within the state during the 1970s away from the rights-based pluralism of the Constitution of 1961 and toward an effort to de-radicalize Turkish society, if necessary through violence.
A Jar of Shaykhs’ Teeth: Medicine, Politics, and the Fragments of History in Kuwait
By: Laura Frances Goffman
Abstract: This article examines ʿAbd al-Ilah al-Qinaʿi’s early 20th-century melding of local, imperial, and transoceanic health practices alongside his 21st-century reemergence as a protonational Kuwaiti doctor. In the early 20th century, geographically and ideologically expansive horizons of health care fostered the emergence of hybrid medical practices. Facilitated by his access to multiple medical spheres and his proximity to Kuwait’s rulers, ʿAbd al-Ilah was uniquely positioned to meet the demands of health-seeking consumers. In the 21st century, Kuwaitis’ search for a national history that naturalizes claims to citizenship has resulted in ʿAbd al-Ilah’s new designation as Kuwait’s first doctor. Both processes—the interplay between local cultures of health and emergent institutions and the imagining of medical history as a nativist teleology—demonstrate how health-seeking and history-writing efforts of a range of historical actors have placed medicine at the center of politics in Kuwait.
Of Nuclear Rials and Golden Shoes: Scaling Commodities and Currencies across Sanctions on Iran
By: Emrah Yıldız
Abstract: Since the 2012 sanctions that dis-embedded the Iranian economy from global markets, contraband commerce has become an explosive issue in Iran. Increasingly Iranians came to regard sanctions as enforced by both international powers and their own state officials, who criminalized certain kinds of cross-border trade, but not others. Although Iranian state actors distinguish between the trader—praised for contributing to the economy—and the traitor—denounced for undermining its integrity—what both unites and blurs the line between them is their shared struggle with a devaluing currency that some Iranians call nuclear. This article examines the “nuclear rial” by extending insights from anthropological scholarship on money to the study of sanctions to advance a dynamic understanding of currency. Studying Iranian trade in gold proves productive for understanding how people negotiate the effects of sanctions in an unevenly financialized world. At stake in the negotiations is a conditional articulation of monetary value that relies on contingent conversions between commodities and currencies and among currencies.
“The Boy Who Wasn’t Really Killed”: Israeli State Violence in the Age of the Smartphone Witness
By: Rebecca L. Stein
Abstract: Over the course of the first two decades of the twenty-first century, within the occupied Palestinian territories, photographic technologies and image-oriented politics would grow increasingly central as activist and human-rights tools of bearing witness to Israeli state and settler violence. This essay investigates the Israeli right-wing and international Zionist response to these Palestinian visual archives and their perceived threat. In particular, it tracks the rise and normalization of a repudiation script that impugned the veracity of these images, arguing that they were fraudulent or manipulated to produce a damning portrait of Israel. Drawing on post-colonial and settler-colonial studies, as placed into dialogue with digital media studies, the essay focuses on three cases studies of repudiation (2000, 2008, 2014, respectively) to consider how the long colonial history of repudiation in the Israeli context would be progressively updated by right-wing Israelis and their international supporters to meet the challenges posed by the smartphone age. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, the script had become an increasingly standard Zionist response to viral images of Palestinian death or injury at Israeli state or settler hands. Repudiation was thus marshaled as a solution to the viral visibility of Israeli state violence by bringing the otherwise damning images back into line with dominant Israeli ideology, a process of shifting the narrative from Palestinian injury to Israeli victimhood. The story of the “false” image of Palestinian injury endeavors strips the visual field of its Israeli perpetrators and Palestinian victims, thereby exonerating the state. Or such is the nature of this digital fantasy in the Israeli colonial present.
More than Beast: Muhammad’s She-Mule Duldul and Her Role in Early Islamic History
By: Taryn Marashi
Abstract: Duldul, a beloved she-mule of the Prophet Muhammad and ʿAli b. Abi Talib (d. 661), fourth caliph and Muhammad’s son-in-law, was a venerated riding beast in early Islamic tradition. The article argues that Duldul reflected the transmission of political authority and became a tool of legitimation for hadith compilers and medieval Muslim writers to use, contest, and navigate an emergent Shiʿa-Sunni rift. Exploring the responsive relationship between hadith construction and the Shiʿa-Sunni polemic, the article first analyzes three literary genres—maghāzī, hadith, and sīra—to describe Duldul and her role in early Islamic history. Second, the article examines the writings of al-Jahiz (d. 868) and al-Damiri (d. 1405) to understand medieval Muslim attitudes toward Duldul and she-mules in general. By taking Duldul more seriously as a historical actor, we can gain deeper insight into the disputes over Muhammad’s legacy in medieval Islam.
Local Legitimacy and Tax Policy: Qaids as Part of a Composite State in Colonial Tunisia
By: Antoine Perrier
Abstract: The colonial history of Tunisia has long been dictated by colonial sources that made the qaid (an official in charge of fiscal attributions), from the viewpoint of the capital city, a local notable and often a prevaricator. This study proposes to reconsider the relationship between government and regional power in the colonial context by drawing on the recent work of Ottoman studies about provincial elites. The article studies the fiscal reforms of the interwar period in a cereal-growing region of Tunisia, relying on sources in Arabic produced by the qaids, namely the administrative correspondence between local authorities, the prime minister, and colonial controllers. This article describes the role of qaids in the negotiation between national law and local specificities and finally highlights the role of decentralization and a local way of thinking about the state in the 1930s. It contributes to colonial history and the history of taxation by highlighting the territorial fractures in North Africa and the agency of local actors under the protectorate.
Exporting the Iranian Revolution: Ecumenical Clerics in Lebanon
By: Mohammad Ataie
Abstract: From the dawn of the 1978–79 Iranian Revolution until the consolidation of Hizbullah in the late 1980s, a network of Iranian, Lebanese, and Palestinian clerics played a crucial role in spreading the revolution to Lebanon and laying the groundwork for Hizbullah. Whereas the historiography of the post-1979 Iran–Lebanon relationship is overwhelmingly focused on Hizbullah, the present study, by drawing on oral history interviews with these clerics and archival materials, contends that the Iranian Revolution came to Lebanon primarily through these Shi‘i and Sunni clerics, who joined ranks and established the Association of Muslim ‘Ulama’ in Lebanon in the wake of the 1982 Israeli invasion. This study argues that these clerics modeled their struggle on the ‘ulama’-led and mosque-based example of the 1978–79 revolution, which this paper describes as the Khomeinist script, to transcend sect to seed a revolution in Lebanon and mass mobilize against the invasion. This article concludes that the ecumenical script was highly appealing to non-Shi‘i Islamists, a key factor in the success of exporting the revolution and the rise of Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 17, Issue 3)
Syrian Men’s Disability and Their Masculine Trajectories in the Context of Displacement in Jordan and Turkey
By: Aitemad Muhanna-matar
Abstract: This article analyzes the relationship between men’s physical disability and the trajectories of negotiating masculinities in the context of Syrian refugee displacement in Jordan and Turkey. The article draws its analysis from the personal narratives of five displaced Syrian refugee men who sustained injuries during the war in Syria. It explores how Syrian refugee men with disabilities remake their masculine bodies and selves to create a new version of masculinity that responds to the changes in their socioeconomic circumstances and bodies. The article argues that the disabled Syrian refugee men went through multiple and contradictory masculine trajectories that intersect with multiple identities and different types of disability. Disabled Syrian refugee men’s emergent masculine embodiments created a version of masculinity that, although it adhered to the patriarchal family values of connectivity and intimacy, does not in its practice legitimate domination within the family and in the Syrian refugee community.
Ladies Aid as Labor History: Working-Class Formation in the Mahjar
By: Stacy D. Fahrenthold
Abstract: In the Arabic-speaking mahjar (diaspora), the plight of the working poor was the focus of women’s philanthropy. Scholarship on welfare relief in the interwar Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian diaspora currently situates it within a gendered politics of benevolence. This article reconsiders that frame and argues for a class-centered reassessment of “ladies aid” politics exploring the intersections of women’s relief with proletarian mutual aid strategies. Founded in 1917, the Syrian Ladies Aid Society (SLAS) of Boston provided food, shelter, education, and employment to Syrian workers. SLAS volunteers understood their efforts as mitigating the precarities imposed on Syrian workers by the global capitalist labor system. Theirs was both a women’s organization and a proletarian movement led by Syrian women. Drawing from SLAS records and the Syrian American press, the article centers Syrian American women within processes of working-class formation and concludes that labor history of the interwar mahjar requires focus on spaces of social reproduction beyond the factory floor.
Facing the Past: Aesthetic Possibility and the Image of “Super-Survivor”
By: Nora Tataryan Aslan
Abstract: Through a consideration of three film works—Ravished Armenia/Auction of Souls (1919), Testimony (2007), and Remembering (2019), which all represent the testimonies of Armenian women to form truths of the catastrophe—this article problematizes how such portrayals might, contrary to their best intentions, resonate with the logic of genocide. By discussing specific woman figures in the three works, published at three times in the postgenocidal era—one just after the events, the other two recently—this article aims not only to mark the evolution of the representational regime with which the Armenian woman is surrounded but also to show that this phenomenon is a key component in a transformation of the lexicon developed around the recognition politics, which ought to involve something other than feverishly chasing a representation of the events of 1915–17 and using women’s witness narratives to this end.
Beauty Standards in Egypt: Popular Consumer Culture and the Representation of Women
By: Mona L. Russell
Abstract: The creation of a hybrid beauty in the cartoon sphere and in advertising intersected with popular and consumer culture at a moment when women’s roles in the public sphere were changing. Politically the nation was at a crossroads: the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936 removed most impediments toward Egyptian independence; however, British troops remained in the Suez Canal zone. With respect to economic history, multinationals were expanding in Egypt, while an emerging bourgeoisie worked to establish local industries. With World War II came economic crisis: inflation, profiteering, black markets, rising inequality, and the return of British troops to strategic locations around the country. This article argues that the hybrid beauty represents the push and pull between women’s emerging roles in public spaces and traditional values, imperialism versus authenticity, local industry competing against multinationals, and a negotiation of new roles for husbands and wives in companionate marriage.
Muslim Fashionistas in Contemporary Turkey: Devoted Mothers, Benevolent Philanthropists, and Leisure Enthusiasts
By: Merve Kütük-Kuriş
Abstract: Turkey’s Islamic fashion market transformed during the 2010s with the entry of young, bourgeois, fashion-conscious Muslim female entrepreneurs. As designers, manufacturers, and retailers, these “Muslim fashionistas” not only gained the attention of young Muslim women but also became lifestyle gurus, projecting images of the successful entrepreneur, the ideal mother, the benevolent philanthropist, and the leisure enthusiast. This combination of roles resonates with the notion of the “ideal Muslim woman” promoted by the government. But its performance entails moments of imperfection and moral dilemma, as the demands of capitalism and consumerism place Muslim fashionistas in opposition to the teachings of their faith and traditional gender regimes. Drawing on practice theory, and on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Istanbul, this article explores Muslim fashionistas’ everyday performances in the fields of family, charity, and leisure. The objective is to analyze how these agents negotiate and interpret quotidian inconsistencies between their religious and social ideals and those ideals’ manifestation.
A Delicate Balancing Act: Women’s Rights and US Military Intervention in the Arab World
By: Amaney Jamal, Irfan Nooruddin
Abstract: Historically Arab regimes have played critical roles in securing women’s rights in their societies. Yet regimes remain concerned about domestic, especially Islamist and traditionalist, reactions to women’s rights. When regimes feel they can overcome this resistance they honor commitments to women’s rights. When they fear more domestic opposition they renege. This article argues that Arab regimes are less likely to resist domestic opposition to women’s rights when US military presence increases in the region. The authors test the argument using cross-national data including an original expert-coder scale of Islamist power, and estimate an instrumental variable model to allay concerns of endogeneity. A case study of Jordan explicates their causal argument. The results are robust to different measures of Islamist strength and to different estimation techniques. Understanding this unintended consequence of US military deployments to the Arab world is important for future analysis of female empowerment in the Arab world.
Mediterranean Politics (Volume 26, Issue 4)
Judeo-Christian civilizationism: Challenging common European foreign policy in the Israeli-Palestinian arena
By: Toby Greene
Abstract: The EU’s identity is said to shape its role as a ‘normative actor’ promoting universal democratic values, including to its neighbourhood. Yet a competing civilizationist version of European identity – increasingly invoked on the radical right – frames Europe as representing ‘Judeo-Christian’ values in opposition to non-European cultures, especially Islam. This paper argues that these identity variations shape divergent responses to foreign policy challenges, by showing the growing influence of civilizationist discourse on European attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian arena. The paper focuses on Austria’s 2017–2019 ÖVP-FPÖ coalition to identity links between rising civilizationist politics and significant policy shifts regarding the Israeli-Palestinian arena.
The wall of violence: Understanding the structural violence of the West Bank wall and the politics of terminology
By: Aneta Brockhill
Abstract: The West Bank wall is a contemporary manifestation of the protracted violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Yet, the Israeli state-promoted discourse has detached the wall’s construction from the conceptualization of violence. It has achieved this by relying on the employment of the traditional conceptualization of the violence, governed by the regimes of instantaneity, visibility and physicality. Embracing Johan Galtung’s concept of structural violence, the paper problematizes the restricted understanding of the notion. It draws attention to the politics of conceptualizing violence and explores various nexuses between the modalities of violence and the production and governance of conflict ‘realities’, as well as the regimes of legitimacy, accountability and responsibility. The paper argues that the discursive inequalities in the representation of violence in the conflict are not independent from the material power of the Israeli occupation regime; they constitute an extension of Israel’s dominant status, and as such should be analysed as an intentional strategy that enables and legitimizes the occupation.
Middle East Critique (Volume 30, Issue 4)
Afghanistan’s Political Settlement Puzzle: The Impact of the Breakdown of Afghan Political Parties to an Elite Polity System (2001–2021)
By: Safiullah Taye
Abstract: The rapid collapse of the Afghan Republic in August 2021 was in part the result of two decades of disintegrating political parties at the hands of former Presidents Karzai and Ghani. After the 2001 US intervention, political parties did not play a significant role in the politics of Afghanistan. The country’s nascent democracy experienced major shifts in the aftermath of the US intervention, largely concerning the behaviour and structure of its parties, which impacted the government’s prospects of reaching a political settlement. In this period, politics began to shift toward a more elite-centric model. By applying a political settlement conceptual framework and case studies, especially with reference to the presidential elections, this article argues that the transformation to an elite-centric model intensified political rivalries in Afghanistan. The resulting polarisation consequently had decreased Afghanistan’s chances of reaching a political settlement, an essential component of state-building in this fragile, linguistically fragmented country with multiple politico-military factions.
Claiming an Individual: Party, Family and the Politics of Memorialization in the Lebanese Civil War
By: Dylan Baun
Abstract: Imad Nuwayhid (1944–1975) was a young Lebanese leftist intellectual, hotel employee, and fighter for the Lebanese Communist Party. Alongside thousands of others, he died during the first phase of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1976). This article explores Imad’s life, death, and legacy through the methodology of ‘Microhistory.’ Consulting Imad’s writings alongside party sources, and conducting interviews with those who knew him, it serves as a window into the politics of memorialization in the Lebanese Civil War with a focus on the Lebanese Left. It argues that multiple actors, ranging from party to family members, produced Imad’s ‘martyr narrative.’ Like others of the era, regardless of party, the narrative stressed ideology and sacrifice over individuality to mobilize the living to fight. These strategies did not, however, unfold without resistance. In the case of Imad, some family challenged the party, positing counter-narratives and claiming Imad as theirs: a Nuwayhid. Their actions seek to restore Imad as an individual, but not always as he lived. These findings contribute to the literature on the Lebanese Civil War and its memory, providing a personal touch through a new and novel level of analysis: the individual, their sources, and the battle over memory that surrounds them.
Remembering Nubia’s Past: Space, Generations and Memorial Practices
By: Mayada Madbouly
Abstract: This article investigates how Nubian actors establish different memorial practices to transmit their culture and heritage in contemporary Egypt. The aim is to shed light on the heterogeneity of the Nubian community, thereby avoiding the dichotomy of the state official narrative versus a homogenized Nubian narrative. By mobilizing the sociology of collective memory and the sociology of social movements, this article aims to advance more reflection on the complexity of the remembering process. In order to explore how the memorial and cultural practices evolved in the last decade, I first present a historical background to explain to what the Nubian collective memory refers. By presenting critical discussions, I suggest using the space of the Nubian past because it enables us to understand better the dynamics and the diversity of the engaged actors. I highlight the generational factor, in the second part of this article, by illustrating how Nubian Youth are renewing their logics of action.
IMF’s Social Protection between Rhetoric and Action: The Case of Egypt
By: Osama Diab, Salma Ihab Hindy
Abstract: A substantial body of literature has been produced about the IMF’s drift away from neoliberal orthodoxy in the aftermath of the 2007/08 global financial crisis. This article assesses the degree to which the IMF’s post-crisis change in discourse toward adding more emphasis on social protection was put into action in Egypt’s 2016 economic reform program. Beyond a noticeable discursive change, our research found that there was very little—if any—practical change. First, we demonstrate how the social component of the program was much smaller than the neoliberal or ‘business-as-usual’ component, not only as a share of program measures but also in terms of their magnitude. Second, we found that even this small component had a very similar equivalent in the last major program between the IMF and Egypt in 1991, thus rendering it less novel, and therefore casting doubt on the IMF’s claims of change.
10 Years On: New Contextual Factors in the Study of Islamism
By: Lucia Ardovini, Erika Biagini
Abstract: Although the popular protests that swept across the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 were short-lived, their long-term consequences are still resonating through the region a decade after their outbreak. Islamist movements have been affected in different ways by the drastic change in the political, social and geographical contexts in which they historically operated, highlighting the need for a renewed examination of these changed circumstances. Based on the case study of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, we argue that three key factors need to be accounted for when studying Islamist movements in the aftermath of the 2011 uprisings. These are the dimension of exile; the increased role played by women and youth; and the emergence of cross-generational and cross-ideological alliances. The article analyzes these three factors through a comparative study of responses by Muslim Brotherhood and Muslim Sisterhood members to repression across Egypt, Turkey and the UK.
Middle East Quarterly (Volume 28, Issue 4)
Americans’ Shifting Views on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: Favorable sentiments toward Israel remain, but with deepening cracks
By: Eytan Gilboa
Abstract: Not available
Turkish Imperialism: When Will Turkey Annex Northern Syria?
By: Rauf Baker
Abstract: Not available
Turkish Imperialism: Whither the Syrian Kurds?
By: Spyridon Plakoudas, Wojciech Michnik
Abstract: Not available
Turkish Imperialism: Erdoğan’s “Second Conquest” of the Christians
By: Anne-Christine Hoff
Abstract: Not available
Middle East Report (Issue 300)
The Enduring Question of Palestine
By: Mouin Rabbani
Abstract: Not available
On the Ground with Palestine’s Intifada Generation
By: Mezna Qato
Abstract: Not available
Putting Workers on the Map
By: Peyman Jafari
Abstract: Not available
Shifting Approaches to Women and Gender in Labor, Politics and Society
By: Judith Tucker
Abstract: Not available
Capturing the Complexity of Lebanon’s Civil War and Its Legacies
By: Najib Hourani
Abstract: Not available
MERIP’s First Decade of Iran Coverage from Political Challenge to Revolution
By: Naghmeh Sohrabi
Abstract: Not available
Understanding the Diversity of Political Islam
By: Francecso Cavatorta
Abstract: Not available
Refusing Imperial Amnesia in the War on Terror
By: Darry Li
Abstract: Not available
Covering Surveillance, Struggles and Solidarity in the Arab American Community
By: Pamela Pennock
Abstract: Not available
Culture and Politics, Culture as Politics
By: Ted Swedenburg, Paul Silverstein
Abstract: Not available
It Was Beirut, All Over Again…Again
By: Maya Mikdashi
Abstract: Not available
The Life and Times of Al Miskin
By: Zachary Lockman
Abstract: Not available
Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 57, Issue 5)
The deal of the century? The attempted sale of the Western Wall by Cemal Pasha in 1916
By: Roberto Mazza
Abstract: This article discusses the offer made by Cemal Pasha in 1915 to Albert Antébi to sell the area in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem in order to dismantle the nearly thirty houses owned by the Moroccan inhabitants of the Maghrebi Quarter and create a space ‘reserved for the prayers of the Jewish people’. European Jews had already sought to purchase the same area from the Ottomans for several decades but had been denied, a situation that did not change under British rule despite the support given to the Jews with the Balfour Declaration. After the 1929 riots in Palestine, any possibility of acquiring the Western Wall or converting the Maghrebi Quarter into a plaza was postponed. This article will address relevant correspondence available at the Zionist Archives that chronicles this decades-long effort and discuss the questions relating to failure and secrecy. The individuals involved took an oath promising never to discuss this business out of concerns about revealing divisions among Zionists in relation to holy places and symbols.
The Druze settlement on Mount Carmel: Daliyat al-Karmil as a case study – Archaeological, historical and geographical evidence
By: Aehab As’ad, Rabei G. Khamisy
Abstract: The arrival date of the Druze at Mount Carmel is still unclear and several claims exist regarding it. None of the Druze villages have been extensively studied, and at present there are only two villages that survived the dismantling of the last two centuries; these are Daliyat al-Karmil and ʿIsifya. The current study will focus on Daliyat al-Karmil as a case study, using geographical, historical and archaeological evidence for dating the Druze arrival at Mount Carmel. The main claim suggests that the town began its journey during the early seventeenth century under the rule of Emir Fakhr al-Din al-Maʿani II; and another claim suggests that the town was built after the rule of Fakhr al-Din II, mostly because of immigration from Lebanon and Syria, as a result of the battle of ʿAyn Dara in 1711. Combining historical, archaeological and geographical evidence has led the present study to suggest that the settling of the town of Daliyat al-Karmil, as well as the other Druze settlements on Mount Carmel, did not begin before the seventeenth century. Moreover, it adds that the Druze inhabitation at Daliyat al-Karmil was among the earliest in the Carmel, and it probably began between 1622 and 1635.
Nationalism or transnationalism? Afghan nationalism and Pan-Islamism in Seraj-ul Akhbar
By: Mortaza Mandegar Hassani
Abstract: Relations between religion and nationalism, as two identity forms, has been debated in Muslim countries, especially where the nationalist trends coincided with the rise of religious reformation and Pan-Islamic movements. This article scrutinizes discourses on linking a transnational ideology of Pan-Islamism with Afghan nationalism in an early twentieth century nationalist newspaper, Seraj-ul Akhbar. The newspaper presents a unique case for this study since it was a platform for dissemination of both ideologies simultaneously. Unlike the later Muslim Brotherhood intellectuals and Muhammad Iqbal, Seraj-ul Akhbar authors did not see a contradiction between Pan-Islamism and territorial nationalism. They formulated a universal Muslim unity going through the national state structure, but not bypassing them. Meanwhile, Seraj-ul Akhbar appropriated the religious language for strengthening national unity. In this way, nationalistic and Pan-Islamic concepts were used to craft a nationally stable identity. It is argued that Pan-Islamism is not a unitary universal transnational ideology, rather it is often embedded in different national, language, and ethnic boundaries.
Between citizenship and the millet: the Greek minority in republican Turkey
By: Ioannis N. Grigoriadis
Abstract: As one of Turkey’s non-Muslim minorities, Turkey’s Greeks have faced substantial pressures since the founding of republican Turkey. As its members could not claim their constitutional rights as citizens of Turkey, emigration soared and the minority reached a point of near extinction. Significant improvements were noted when the EU-supported reform transformed the Turkish state and society from 1999 to 2010, which were not reversed as Turkey relapsed to democratic backsliding in the following years. This article explores the social dynamics and ideological frameworks that have contributed to novel perceptions of the Greek minority since after 2002, the year the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi-AKP) came to power and have deterred a significant deterioration since Turkey’s democratic backsliding began. It also examines the state of Turkey’s Greeks by focusing on the state of the pious foundations, the Papa Eftim affair and the situation in the islands of Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos).
To break the feudal bonds: the Soviets, Reza Khan, and the Iranian left, 1921-25
By: Kayhan A. Nejad
Abstract: From 1921-25, the USSR normalized its relations with Iran, withdrawing support from the Soviet Socialist Republic of Iran in the northern province of Gilan (SSRI, 1920-21), and signing the Irano-Soviet Treaty of Friendship in February of 1921. Thus far, most scholarship has argued that material interests, and especially Soviet designs on Iranian oil, compelled their anti-revolutionist turn in Iran. This article, which draws upon original collections from the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (AVPRF) and others, argues that the defeat of the SSRI did not mark the final Soviet attempt to socialize Iran, but rather the first of several that recruited leftist parties, tribal actors, and even the Shi‘ite clerical establishment until 1923. Secondly, this article argues that the Soviets eventually threw their support behind Reza Khan not only because some senior policymakers believed that his modernizing authoritarianism would provide the preconditions for Iranian socialism, but also because of a growing hostility to the Iranian left, whose revolutionary designs the Soviets eventually deemed premature. These findings are supported by archival diplomatic reports and communiques, which the author employs to interrogate the knowledge production intended by the Soviets to justify their anti-revolutionist turn in Iran.
The duality of ‘official’ and ‘local’ in modern Iran: historical and intellectual foundations
By: Marouf Cabi
Abstract: Not available
‘The school is the link between the Jewish community and the surrounding milieu’: education and the Jews of Iran from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s
By: Daniella L. Farah
Abstract: This article offers a thematic examination of the significant role education played among the Jews of Iran from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s. I focus on the work of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, the Franco-Jewish philanthropic organization which established its first school in Iran in 1898. The Alliance – which viewed Iranian Jews as backwards and degenerate – aimed to modernize them via Western education. In this article, I demonstrate that the Alliance’s work in Iran helped the Jews move up the socio-economic ladder and provided them with opportunities to integrate into the broader non-Jewish Iranian milieu. By exploring the disputes that arose between the Alliance and local Iranian Jews, I also show that Iran’s Jews did not always accept the Alliance’s paternalistic attitudes. To discuss the overall impact of education on Iranian Jews, I situate the history of Jewish education in Iran within the Pahlavi state’s nationalizing campaigns.
Chehabism revisited: the consequences of reform in Lebanon
By: Tarek Abou Jaoude
Abstract: This article studies the reforms undertaken within the Lebanese state during the term of president Fouad Chehab (1958–1964) and their effects on Lebanese politics and bureaucracy. The article demonstrates that, while there were many positive results that came from these changes, the vision behind them, the methods of their execution, as well as the short time in which they were enforced, made them unsustainable as a long-term solution for Lebanese clientelism and corruption. Inherently, these reforms – though desperately needed – were not in any sense radical, and Chehab’s loyalty to the country and his army, combined with his distaste for politics, meant that the implementation of change came at the cost of long-term planning and the improvement of administrative culture. In addition, the measures that accompanied the army’s involvement in politics clashed with the Lebanese power-sharing system, and did not materialise into real democratic change. Ultimately, the degree to which Chehab’s reforms challenged many of the traditional Lebanese elite, and alienated much of the Lebanese population, resulted in a very tense socio-political situation that would break down only a few years later.
From jihad to resistance: the evolution of Hamas’s discourse in the framework of mobilization
By: Imad Alsoos
Abstract: This article is the first attempt to examine the dynamics of Hamas’s political discourse since the movement’s birth with relations to mobilization. Based on extensive primary sources and interviews with Hamas leaders in Gaza, the article identifies three key framing processes. First, at its inception, Hamas’s words and actions centered around the movement’s interpretation of Islam from 1987 to 1993. Second, during the Oslo period from 1993-2000, Hamas attempted to de-frame its religious discourse. Third, from 2000 to the present, Hamas has reframed its discourses around the more inclusive concept of muqawama or resistance. While Hamas was in office after 2006, Hamas’s notions of resistance, however, eschew a sole meaning and instead function as a floating signifier. Each of these framings are investigated by relation to changing socio-political realities. The article argues that Hamas is not necessarily becoming either less Islamic or more secular-nationalist. Rather, the employment of the discourses of muqawama – that is, as a non-religious and more inclusive term – is better suited to Hamas’s current mobilization needs, and the rearticulation of its evolving worldview, without jeopardizing its religious identity.
The Middle East journal (Volume 75, Issue 3)
The Roots of the Sadrist Movement: Muhammad al-Sadr, Religious Authority, and Sociopolitical Practice
By: Harith Hasan
Abstract: Based on Ba’th Party archival records, interviews, and secondary sources, this article aims to reconstruct and contextualize the story of Muhammad Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, the Shi’i cleric who led a grassroots religious movement in the 1990s that still plays a major role in Iraq. The article argues that the Sadrist movement and its project of social Islamization were a result of Sadr’s enlistment of grassroots support to challenge his rivals in the Shi’i religious field during a leadership vacuum amid the decline of the clerical establishment’s influence.
Salafism, Sectarianism, and National Identity in Iraqi Kurdistan
By: Pishtiwan Jalal, Ariel I. Ahram
Abstract: This article examines the history of Salafism within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq using interviews, archives, social media, and an online survey. Despite Salafism and nationalism generally being seen as rival political ideologies, Kurdish Salafis have over the last decade increasingly linked their sectarian struggle to the Kurdish ethno-nationalist cause. Such efforts provide new understandings both of Salafism and of Kurdish nationalism while also potentially destabilizing the alliance between Kurdish nationalist and Shi’i sectarian parties that has governed Iraq since 2003.
The Failed Ba’thification of Iraqi Kurdistan: The Ideological and Organizational Strategies of the Ba’th Party in Northern Iraq, 1968-2003
By: Ruiheng Li
Abstract: Drawing on internal party documents, this article analyzes the history of Ba’thification efforts in Iraqi Kurdistan. Despite a growing literature on the Ba’th Party’s ruling strategy, the often-overlooked Arabization of Kurdish communities constituted a significant ideological component of Ba’thification. From an organizational perspective, the cultivation of internal intelligence networks was used to compensate for the challenges associated with robust party recruitment in northern Iraq’s Kurdish-majority governorates and among Kurdish communities in mixed areas.
Escape to Germany in Syrian Television Drama: From Cross-Cultural Gender Constructions to Transnational Tropes of Masculinity and Homeland
By: Rebecca Joubin, Sophia Nissler
Abstract: Looking at programs from the 1960s onward, this article shows the persistence and evolution of the gender imbalance in Syrian television characters’ relationships with Germany. Before the 2011 uprising, screenwriters linked women charac ters to Germany as a way to challenge patriarchal standards of sexuality and gendered conceptions of national belonging. As the war has ensued, this trope has vanished. Meanwhile, long-standing narratives about men emigrating to Germany continue to represent abandonment of the homeland and have become intensified through nationalist nostalgia.
The Social Media War in the Middle East
By: Daniel Byman
Abstract: Several Middle Eastern governments are especially active in information campaigns, notably Egypt, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. They use a range of overt and clandestine disinformation tools to bolster their regimes, silence their critics, and weaken their rivals. Social media are particularly attractive venues for government propaganda. Sustaining social media operations is cheap, allows a degree of deniability, enables regimes to reach a large audience while differentiating their messages, and is easy to exploit. Social media campaigns are important, but judging their success is difficult. However, understanding their methods and motivations is vital in order to anticipate their possible impacts and design the best solutions to improve the quality of information in the region. Here, Byman discusses the social media war in the Middle East.