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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.

Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire Cover

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Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire

The Sublime Porte, 1789-1922

Carter Vaughn Findley

From the author's preface: Sublime Porte--there must be few terms more redolent, even today, of the fascination that the Islamic Middle East has long exercised over Western imaginations. Yet there must also be few Western minds that now know what this term refers to, or why it has any claim to attention. One present-day Middle East expert admits to having long interpreted the expression as a reference to Istambul's splendid natural harbor. This individual is probably not unique and could perhaps claim to be relatively well informed. When the Sublime Porte still existed, Westerners who spent time in Istanbul knew the term as a designation for the Ottoman government, but few knew why the name was used, or what aspect of the Ottoman government it properly designated. What was the real Sublime Porte? Was it an organization? A building? No more, literally, than a door or gateway? What about it was important enough to cause the name to be remembered?

In one sense, the purpose of this book is to answer these questions. Of course, it will also do much more and will, in the process, move quickly onto a plane quite different from the exoticism just invoked. For to study the bureaucratic complex properly known as the Sublime Porte, and to analyze its evolution and that of the body of men who staffed it, is to explore a problem of tremendous significance for the development of the administrative institutions of the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic lands in general, and in some senses the entire non-Westerrn world.

The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel Cover

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The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel

Edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm

How should we understand the international debate about the future of Israel and the Palestinians? Can justice be achieved in the Middle East? Until now, there was no single place for people to go to find detailed scholarly essays analyzing proposals to boycott Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement of which they are a part. This book for the first time provides the historical background necessary for informed evaluation of one of the most controversial issues of our day— the struggle between two peoples living side-by-side but with conflicting views of history and conflicting national ambitions. This book encourages empathy for all parties, but it also takes a cold look at what solutions are realistic and possible. In doing so, it tackles issues, like the role of anti-Semitism in calls for the abolition of the Jewish state, that many have found impossible to confront until now. The book gathers essays by an international cohort of scholars from Britain, Israel, and the United States.

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.

Children of Afghanistan Cover

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Children of Afghanistan

The Path to Peace

Edited by Jennifer Heath and Ashraf Zahedi

A sweeping examination of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable individuals and the myriad of problems that confront them, Children of Afghanistan not only explores the host of crises that has led the United Nations to call the country “the worst place on earth to be born,” but also offers child-centered solutions to rebuilding the country.

China and Iran Cover

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China and Iran

Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World

by John W. Garver

Chronicles of Majnun Layla and Selected Poems Cover

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Chronicles of Majnun Layla and Selected Poems

by Qassim Haddad

Chronicles of Majnun Layla and Selected Poems brings together in one volume Haddad’s seminal work and a considerable selection of poems from his oeuvre, stretching over forty years. The central poem, Chronicles of Majnun Layla, recasts the seventh-century myth into a contemporary, postmodern narrative that revels in the foibles of oral transmission, weaving a small side cast of characters into the fabric of the poem. Haddad portrays Layla as a daring woman aware of her own needs and desires and not afraid to articulate them. The author succeeds in reviving this classical work of Arabian love while liberating it from its puritanical dimension and tribal overtones. The selected poems reveal Haddad’s playful yet profound meditations. A powerful lyric poet, Haddad juxtaposes classical and modern symbols, and mixes the old with the new, the sensual with the sacred, and the common with the extraordinary. Ghazoul and Verlenden’s masterful translation remains faithful to the cultural and historical context in which the original poetry was produced while also reflecting the uniqueness of the poet’s style and his poetics.

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.

City of Strangers Cover

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City of Strangers

Gulf Migration and the Indian Community in Bahrain

In City of Strangers, Andrew M. Gardner explores the everyday experiences of workers from India who have migrated to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Like all the petroleum-rich states of the Persian Gulf, Bahrain hosts an extraordinarily large population of transmigrant laborers. Guest workers, who make up nearly half of the country's population, have long labored under a sponsorship system, the kafala, that organizes the flow of migrants from South Asia to the Gulf states and contractually links each laborer to a specific citizen or institution.

In order to remain in Bahrain, the worker is almost entirely dependent on his sponsor's goodwill. The nature of this relationship, Gardner contends, often leads to exploitation and sometimes violence. Through extensive observation and interviews Gardner focuses on three groups in Bahrain: the unskilled Indian laborers who make up the most substantial portion of the foreign workforce on the island; the country's entrepreneurial and professional Indian middle class; and Bahraini state and citizenry. He contends that the social segregation and structural violence produced by Bahrain's kafala system result from a strategic arrangement by which the state insulates citizens from the global and neoliberal flows that, paradoxically, are central to the nation's intended path to the future.

City of Strangers contributes significantly to our understanding of politics and society among the states of the Arabian Peninsula and of the migrant labor phenomenon that is an increasingly important aspect of globalization.

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.

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