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Area and Ethnic Studies > Middle Eastern Studies

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The Cat Who Taught Me How to Fly

An Arab Prison Novel

In his masterpiece The Cat Who Taught Me How to Fly, Hashem Gharaibeh tells the moving story of a political prisoner during Jordan’s martial law era, which spanned from 1967 to 1989. Gharaibeh defies the taboos of politics, sex, and religion to tell a thrilling and brutally honest story about the horrors and insanities of everyday life in an Arab prison. At once both a novel and an autobiography, the author draws from his own experiences as a Jordanian youth arrested and imprisoned for nearly a decade for his affiliation with the Jordanian Communist Party. The novel uniquely portrays prison culture intertwined with tribal, ideological, and political perspectives to explain both mundane and esoteric aspects of prison life in this time and era, illustrating an experience that is traumatic, humane, and inspiring. A heartwrenching story of learning, survival, and the quest for the freedom of thought is told with powerful defiance and grace, exposing us to human frailty, strength, and one man’s dream to soar beyond the walls of prison, society, and self.
 
 

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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.

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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.

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China and Iran

Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World

by John W. Garver

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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Coffee and Coffeehouses

The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East

by Ralph S. Hattox

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