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Area and Ethnic Studies > Middle Eastern Studies

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Building a House in Heaven Cover

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Building a House in Heaven

Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt

Mona Atia


Charity is an economic act. This premise underlies a societal transformation—the merging of religious and capitalist impulses that Mona Atia calls “pious neoliberalism.” Though the phenomenon spans religious lines, Atia makes the connection between Islam and capitalism to examine the surprising relations between charity and the economy, the state, and religion in the transition from Mubarak-era Egypt.

Mapping the landscape of charity and development in Egypt, Building a House in Heaven reveals the factors that changed the nature of Egyptian charitable practices—the state’s intervention in social care and religion, an Islamic revival, intensified economic pressures on the poor, and the subsequent emergence of the private sector as a critical actor in development. She shows how, when individuals from Egypt’s private sector felt it necessary to address poverty, they sought to make Islamic charities work as engines of development, a practice that changed the function of charity from distributing goods to empowering the poor. Drawing on interviews with key players, Atia explores the geography of Islamic charities through multiple neighborhoods, ideologies, sources of funding, projects, and wide social networks. Her work shifts between absorbing ethnographic stories of specific organizations and reflections on the patterns that appear across the sector.

An enlightening look at the simultaneous neoliberalization of Islamic charity work and Islamization of neoliberal development, the book also offers an insightful analysis of the political and socioeconomic movements leading up to the uprisings that ended Mubarak’s rule and that amplified the importance of not only the Muslim Brotherhood but also the broader forces of Islamic piety and charity.

Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology, The Cover

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Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology, The

Theory, Ideology, and Identity

Offers the first systematic and comprehensive overview of sociological thought in Israel, and pleads for a new agenda that would shift the focus from nation building to democratic and egalitarian citizenship formation. This study explores the changing agenda of Israeli sociology by linking content with context and by offering a historically informed critique of sociology as a theory and as a social institution. It examines, on the one hand, the general theoretical perspectives brought to bear upon sociological studies of Israel and, on the other, the particular social and ideological persuasions with which these studies are imbued. Ram shows how the agenda of Israeli sociology has changed in correlation with major political transformations in Israel: the long-term hegemony of the Labor Movement up to the 1967 war; the crisis of the labor regime following the 1973 war; and the ascendance of the right wing to governmental power in 1977. Three stages in Israeli sociology, corresponding to these political transformations, are identified: the domination of a functionalist school from the 1950s to the 1970s; a crisis in the mid-1970s; and the profusion of alternative and competing perspectives since the late 1970s. Ram concludes with a plea for a new sociological agenda that would shift the focus from nation building to democratic and egalitarian citizenship formation. This book offers the first systematic and comprehensive overview of sociological thought in Israel, and by doing so offers a unique interpretation of the social and intellectual history of Israel.

China and Iran Cover

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China and Iran

Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World

by John W. Garver

Circles of Exclusion Cover

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Circles of Exclusion

The Politics of Health Care in Israel

In its early years, Israel's dominant ideology led to public provision of health care for all Jewish citizens-regardless of their age, income, or ability to pay. However, the system has shifted in recent decades, becoming increasingly privatized and market-based. In a familiar paradox, the wealthy, the young, and the healthy have relatively easy access to health care, and the poor, the old, and the very sick confront increasing obstacles to medical treatment.

In Circles of Exclusion, Dani Filc, both a physician and a human rights activist, forcefully argues that in present-day Israel, equal access to health care is constantly and systematically thwarted by a regime that does not extend an equal level of commitment to the well-being of all residents of Israel, whether Jewish, Israeli Palestinians, migrant workers, or Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Filc explores how Israel's adoption of a neoliberal model has pushed the system in a direction that gives priority to the strongest and richest individuals and groups over the needs of society as a whole, and to profit and competition over care.

Filc pays special attention to the repercussions of policies that define citizenship in a way that has serious consequences for the health of groups of Palestinians who are Israeli citizens-particularly the Bedouins in the unrecognized villages-and to the ways in which this structure of citizenship affects the health of migrant workers. The health care situation is even more dire in the Occupied Territories, where the Occupation, especially in the last two decades, has negatively affected access to medical care and the health of Palestinians. Filc concludes his book with a discussion of how human rights, public health, and economic imperatives can be combined to produce a truly equal health care system that provides high-quality services to all Israelis.

A Civil Society Deferred Cover

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A Civil Society Deferred

The Tertiary Grip of Violence in the Sudan

Abdullahi A. Gallab

A Civil Society Deferred chronicles the socio-political history and development of violence in the Sudan and explores how it has crippled the state, retarded the development of a national identity, and ravaged the social and material life of its citizens. It offers the first detailed case studies of the development of both a colonial and postcolonial Sudanese state and grounds the violence that grips the country within the conflict between imperial rule and a resisting civil society.

Abdullahi Gallab establishes his discussion around three forms of violence: decentralized (individual actors using targets as a means to express a particular grievance); centralized (violence enacted illegitimately by state actors); and "home-brewed" (violence among local actors toward other local actors). The Turkiyya, the Mahdiyya, the Anglo-Egyptian, and the postcolonial states have all taken each of these forms to a degree never before experienced. The same is true for the various social and political hierarchies in the country, the Islamists, and the opposing resistance groups and liberation movements.

These dichotomies have led to the creation of a political center that has sought to extend power and exploit the margins of Sudanese society. Drawing from academic, archival, and a variety of oral and written material, as well as personal experience, Gallab offers an original examination of identity and social formation in the region.

Classical Arabic Literature Cover

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Classical Arabic Literature

A Library of Arabic Literature Anthology

Geert Jan Van Gelder

A major achievement in the field of translation, this anthology presents a rich assortment of classical Arabic poems and literary prose, from pre-Islamic times until the 18th century, with short introductions to guide non-specialist students and informative endnotes and bibliography for advanced scholars. Like many pre-modern Arabic anthologies it aims at being both entertaining and informative. It ranges from the early Bedouin poems with their evocation of desert life to refined urban lyrical verse, from tender love poetry to sonorous eulogy or vicious lampoons, and from the heights of mystical rapture to the frivolity of comic verse. The prose contains anecdotes, entertaining or edifying tales and parables, a fairy-tale, a bawdy story, samples of literary criticism, and much more.
 
With this anthology, distinguished Arabist Geert Jan van Gelder brings together well-known texts as well as less familiar pieces that will be new even to scholars in the field. Many recent studies and anthologies of Middle Eastern literatures are primarily interested in Islam and religious matters—an emphasis that leads to the common misconception that almost everything in the region was and is dominated by religion. Classical Arabic Literature instead brings to life the rich variety of pre-modern Arabic social and cultural life, where secular texts happily coexisted with religious ones. This masterful anthology, in English only, will introduce this vibrant literary heritage to a wide spectrum of new readers.

Coffins on Our Shoulders Cover

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Coffins on Our Shoulders

The Experience of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel

Dan Rabinowitz

This highly original historical and political analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict combines the unique perspectives of two prominent segments of the Middle Eastern puzzle: Israeli Jews and the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Written jointly by an Israeli anthropologist and a Palestinian family therapist born weeks apart to two families from Haifa, Coffins on Our Shoulders merges the personal and the political as it explores the various stages of the conflict, from the 1920s to the present. The authors weave vivid accounts and vignettes of family history into a sophisticated multidisciplinary analysis of the political drama that continues to unfold in the Middle East. Offering an authoritative inquiry into the traumatic events of October 2000, when thirteen Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli police during political demonstrations, the book culminates in a radical and thought-provoking blueprint for reform that few in Israel, in the Arab world, and in the West can afford to ignore.

Colonial Jerusalem Cover

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Colonial Jerusalem

The Spatial Construction of Identity and Difference in a City of Myth, 1948-2012

by Thomas Philip Abowd

In one of the few anthropological works focusing on a contemporary Middle Eastern city, Colonial Jerusalem explores a vibrant urban center at the core of the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This book shows how colonialism, far from being simply a fixture of the past as is often suggested, remains a crucial component of Palestinian and Israeli realities today. Abowd deftly illuminates everyday life under Israel’s long military occupation as it is defined by processes and conditions of “apartness” and separation as Palestinians are increasingly regulated and controlled. Abowd examines how both national communities are progressively divided by walls, checkpoints, and separate road networks in one of the most segregated cities in the world. Drawing upon recent theories on racial politics, colonialism, and urban spatial dynamics, Colonial Jerusalem analyzes the politics of myth, history, and memory across an urban landscape integral to the national cosmologies of both Palestinians and Israelis and meaningful to all communities.

Communal Webs Cover

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Communal Webs

Communication and Culture in Contemporary Israel

This book brings together insights derived from a detailed exploration of Israeli cultural patterns of communication, highlighting their role in the processes of culture formation, maintenance, and change. Katriel’s ethnographic examples provide a richly-textured account of Israeli cultural experience, illustrating the potential of a cultural analysis grounded in the study of ideologically-informed communicative practices.

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