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Contentious Politics in the Middle East

Political Opposition under Authoritarianism

Holger Albrecht

Scholarship examining the governments in the Middle East and North Africa rarely focuses on opposition movements, since those countries tend to be ruled by a centralized, often authoritarian government. However, even in an oppressive state, there are civil society and oppositional forces at work. The contributors to Contentious Politics in the Middle East reveal how such forces emerge and are manifested in nondemocratic states across the region.

In most cases, the essays offer a comparative perspective, highlighting similarities across political borders. Providing historical context for current events, they examine the sociopolitical situations in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Algeria and analyze the role of Islam in Arab states' governments and in the opposition movements to them. They also demonstrate that not all opposition forces propose the overthrow of authority and point out the various forms opposition takes in societies that leave little room for political activism.

The contributors to the volume are drawn from countries across three continents and bring backgrounds in political science, conflict resolution, and history. Challenging the assertion that state-society relations are limited to coercive top-down arrangements in authoritarian regimes, the book will inspire debate on the topic of contentious political participation within the region as well as in similar settings throughout the world.

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Contesting Realities

The Public Sphere and Morality in Southern Yemen

Susanne Dahlgren

As a resident of Aden for more than three years spanning the late years of Marxist South Yemen, Dahlgren presents the reader with an intimate portrait of Yemeni men and women in the home, in the factory, in the office, and in the street, demonstrating that Islamic societies must be understood through a multiplicity of social spheres and morality orders. Within each space, she examines the range of legal, political, religious, and social regulations that frame gender relations and social dynamics. Highlighting the diversity of women’s and men’s positions as a continuum rather than as distinct areas, Dahlgren presents a vivid picture of this dynamic society, providing an in-depth background to today’s political upheavals in Yemen.

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The Convergence of Judaism and Islam

Religious, Scientific, and Cultural Dimensions

Edited by Michael M. Laskier and Yaacov Lev

The Convergence of Judaism and Islam offers fifteen interdisciplinary studies that investigate the complex relationships between the cultures of Jews and Muslims during the medieval and early modern periods. They reveal that, for the most part, Jewish-Muslim relations were peaceful and involved intellectual and professional cooperation.

Eschewing a chronological approach and featuring contributions from European, Israeli, and North American scholars, including veterans and recent PhDs, the volume makes many fascinating and stimulating juxtapositions. To give one example, chapters on early Islam and the shaping of Jewish-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages shed light on the legal battles over the status of synagogues in twentieth-century Yemen or the execution of a fourteen-year-old girl in nineteenth-century Morocco.

Sure to provoke controversy and discussion, this volume focuses on a period of free exchange between these two cultures that resulted in some of the most seminal breakthroughs in math, science, and medicine the world has known.

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Copts in Context

Negotiating Identity, Tradition, and Modernity

Nelly van Doorn-Harder

Though the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt is among the oldest Christian communities in the world, it remained relatively unknown outside of Egypt for most of its existence. In the wake of the Arab Spring, however, this community was caught up in regional violence, and its predicament became a cause for concern around the world. Copts in Context examines the situation of the Copts as a minority faith in a volatile region and as a community confronting modernity while steeped in tradition. Nelly van Doorn-Harder opens Coptic identity and tradition to a broad range of perspectives: historical, political, sociological, anthropological, and ethnomusicological. Starting with contemporary issues such as recent conflicts in Egypt, the volume works back to topics—among them the Coptic language, the ideals and tradition of monasticism, and church historiography—that while rooted in the ancient past, nevertheless remain vital in Coptic memory and understanding of culture and tradition. Contributors examine developments in the Coptic diaspora, in religious education and the role of children, and in Coptic media, as well as considering the varied nature of Coptic participation in Egyptian society and politics over millennia. With many Copts leaving the homeland, preservation of Coptic history, memory, and culture has become a vital concern to the Coptic Church. These essays by both Coptic and non-Coptic scholars offer insights into present-day issues confronting the community and their connections to relevant themes from the past, demonstrating reexamination of that past helps strengthen modern-day Coptic life and culture.

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Cosmopolitical Claims

Turkish-German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk

When both France and Holland rejected the proposed constitution for the European Union in 2005, the votes reflected popular anxieties about the entry of Turkey into the European Union as much as they did ambivalence over ceding national sovereignty. Indeed, the votes in France and Holland echoed long standing tensions between Europe and Turkey. If there was any question that tensions were high, the explosive reaction of Europe’s Muslim population to a series of cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper put them to rest. Cosmopolitical Claims is a profoundly original study of the works of Sten Nadonly, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimoglu, and 2006 Nobel prize in literature recipient Orhan Pamuk. Rather than using the proverbial hyphen in “Turkish-German” to indicate a culture caught between two nations, Venkat Mani is interested in how Turkish-German literature engages in a scrutiny of German and Turkish national identity.
    Moving deftly from the theoretical literature to the texts themselves, Mani’s groundbreaking study explores these conflicts and dialogues and the resulting cultural hybridization as they are expressed in four novels that document the complexity of Turkish-German cultural interactions in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His innovative readings will engage students of contemporary German literature as well as illuminate the discussion of minority literature in a multicultural setting.
    As Salman Rushdie said in the 2002 Tanner Lecture at Yale, “The frontier is an elusive line, visible and invisible, physical and metaphorical, amoral and moral. . . . To cross a frontier is to be transformed.” It is in this vein that Mani’s dynamic and subtle work posits a still evolving discourse between Turkish and German writers.

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Countdown to Statehood

Palestinian State Formation in the West Bank and Gaza

A study of Palestinian state formation in comparison to Zionist experiences. Countdown to Statehood, based on Arabic, English, and Hebrew language sources, analyzes the form that the Palestinian state is likely to take. The book looks at past institution-building patterns in the West Bank and Gaza, the relationship between the PLO and the local Palestinians, and the nature of the conflict with Israel from 1967 through the first year of the Palestinian Authority under Arafat’s leadership. A major reference point in this analysis is the Zionist experience of state-building in Israel’s own pre-independence era. Not only did the Zionist experience serve as a model of a successful protagonist that Palestinians wished to emulate, but both also began as diaspora-based. These similarities and, even more so, the dissimilarities between these two struggles for national determination allow the reader to assess the potential likenesses and disparities of the future Palestinian state compared to its Israeli counterpart. The concluding chapter analyzes the findings in the broader context of third-world state-building by arguing, contrary to the common wisdom that “war makes the state,” that more peaceful routes to statehood lead to better states in the post-independence era.

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Counterrealism and Indo-Anglian Fiction

What do R.K. Narayan, G.V. Desani, Anita Desai, Zulfikar Ghose, Suniti Namjoshi, and Salman Rushdie have in common?

They represent Indian writing in English over five decades. Vilified by many cultural nationalists for not writing in native languages, they nonetheless present a critique of the historical and cultural conditions that promoted and sustained writing in English. They also have in common a counterrealist aesthetic that asks its own social, political, and textual questions.

This book is about the need to look at the tradition of Indian writing in English from the perspective of counterrealism. The departure from the conventions of mimetic writing not only challenges the limits of realism but also enables Indo-Anglian authors to access formative areas of colonial experience.

Kanaganayakam analyzes the fiction of writers who work in this vibrant Indo-Anglian tradition and demonstrates patterns of continuity and change during the last five decades. Each chapter draws attention to what is distinctive about the artifice in each author while pointing to the features that connect them. The book concludes with a study of contemporary writing and its commitment to non-mimetic forms.

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Courting Conflict

The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza

Lisa Hajjar

Israel's military court system, a centerpiece of Israel's apparatus of control in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, has prosecuted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This authoritative book provides a rare look at an institution that lies both figuratively and literally at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Lisa Hajjar has conducted in-depth interviews with dozens of Israelis and Palestinians—including judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, defendants, and translators—about their experiences and practices to explain how this system functions, and how its functioning has affected the conflict. Her lucid, richly detailed, and theoretically sophisticated study highlights the array of problems and debates that characterize Israel's military courts as it asks how the law is deployed to protect and further the interests of the Israeli state and how it has been used to articulate and defend the rights of Palestinians living under occupation.

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Crime and Criminal Justice in Israel

Assessing the Knowledge Base toward the Twenty-First Century

Offers insights into the criminal justice system and the field of criminology in Israel. Assessing the Israeli criminal justice knowledge base with implications for Israel and international scholarship, this book explores crime, legislation, law enforcement, courts, corrections, and the victim. The book discusses the development of criminal justice and criminology in a new society, adding to the understanding of crime and societal reaction. The authors examine the historical development of Israeli criminal justice, describe the state of current knowledge, and point to possible future directions.

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Critical Essays on Israeli Social Issues and Scholarship

Books on Israel, Volume III

Critical Essays on Israeli Social Issues and Scholarship is part of a series of review volumes sponsored by the Association for Israel Studies and published by SUNY Press that provides a framework for discussion of research and scholarship on all aspects of Israeli society. This book brings together review essays commenting on issues in Israeli culture, literature, politics, scholarship, and society. The authors identify a series of recently published books and provide critical commentary. In their examination, they go beyond the works themselves to comment on the state of scholarship and social conditions. Topics covered include Israeli writers’ reactions to the Holocaust, critical analyses of the popular Israeli poet and novelist Amnon Shamosh, the linguistic relations between Yiddish and Modern Hebrew, ethnic relations, the emerging “mainstream” of Israeli culture, politics, Israeli historical revisionism, and social, psychological, and political aspects of the continuing Israel-Palestine conflict.

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