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Cultural Criticism in Egyptian Women's Writing

Caroline Seymour-Jorn is assistant professor of comparative literature in the department of French, Italian, and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisonsin-Milwaukee

Seymour-Jorn delves into the works of five female Egyptian writers: Radwa Ashour, Salwa Bakr, Nimat al-Bihiri, Etidal Osman, and Ibtihal Salem. Drawing on a combination of interviews and chronicles of their literary work, the author analyzes a range of female emotional, intellectual, family, and professional experience.

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Dante and Islam

Edited by Jan M. Ziolkowski

Dante put Muhammad in one of the lowest circles of Hell. At the same time, the medieval Christian poet placed several Islamic philosophers much more honorably in Limbo. Furthermore, it has long been suggested that for much of the basic framework of the Divine Comedy Dante was indebted to apocryphal traditions about a “night journey” taken by Muhammad. _x000B__x000B_Dante scholars have increasingly returned to the question of Islam to explore the often surprising encounters among religious traditions that the middle ages afforded. This collection of essays works through what was known of the Qur’an and of Islamic philosophy and science in Dante’s day, and explores the bases for Dante’s images of Muhammad and Ali. It further compels us to look at key instances of engagement among Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

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The Dead Sea and the Jordan River

Barbara Kreiger

For centuries travelers have been drawn to the stunning and mysterious Dead Sea and Jordan River, a region which is unlike any other on earth in its religious and historical significance. In this exceptionally engaging and readable book, Barbara Kreiger chronicles the natural and human history of these storied bodies of water, drawing on accounts by travelers, pilgrims, and explorers from ancient times to the present. She conveys the blend of spiritual, touristic, and scientific motivations that have driven exploration and describes the modern exploitation of the lake and the surrounding area through mineral extraction and agriculture. Today, both lake and river are in crisis, and stewardship of these water resources is bound up with political conflicts in the region. The Dead Sea and the Jordan River combines history, literature, travelogue, and natural history in a way that makes it hard to put down.

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Defending the Holy Land

A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy

Zeev Maoz

Defending the Holy Land is the most comprehensive analysis to date of Israel's national security and foreign policy, from the inception of the State of Israel to the present. Author Zeev Maoz's unique double perspective, as both an expert on the Israeli security establishment and esteemed scholar of Mideast politics, enables him to describe in harrowing detail the tragic recklessness and self-made traps that pervade the history of Israeli security operations and foreign policy. Most of the wars in which Israel was involved, Maoz shows, were entirely avoidable, the result of deliberate Israeli aggression, flawed decision-making, and misguided conflict management strategies. None, with the possible exception of the 1948 War of Independence, were what Israelis call "wars of necessity." They were all wars of choice-or, worse, folly. Demonstrating that Israel's national security policy rested on the shaky pairing of a trigger-happy approach to the use of force with a hesitant and reactive peace diplomacy, Defending the Holy Land recounts in minute-by-minute detail how the ascendancy of Israel's security establishment over its foreign policy apparatus led to unnecessary wars and missed opportunites for peace. A scathing and brilliant revisionist history, Defending the Holy Land calls for sweeping reform of Israel's foreign policy and national security establishments. This book will fundamentally transform the way readers think about Israel's troubled history. Zeev Maoz is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis. He is the former head of the Graduate School of Government and Policy and of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, as well as the former academic director of the M.A. Program at the Israeli Defense Forces' National Defense College. Cover photograph: Israel, Jerusalem, Western Wall and The Dome of The Rock. Courtesy of Corbis.

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Defining Neighbors

Religion, Race, and the Early Zionist-Arab Encounter

Jonathan Marc Gribetz

As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persists, aspiring peacemakers continue to search for the precise territorial dividing line that will satisfy both Israeli and Palestinian nationalist demands. The prevailing view assumes that this struggle is nothing more than a dispute over real estate. Defining Neighbors boldly challenges this view, shedding new light on how Zionists and Arabs understood each other in the earliest years of Zionist settlement in Palestine and suggesting that the current singular focus on boundaries misses key elements of the conflict.

Drawing on archival documents as well as newspapers and other print media from the final decades of Ottoman rule, Jonathan Gribetz argues that Zionists and Arabs in pre–World War I Palestine and the broader Middle East did not think of one another or interpret each other’s actions primarily in terms of territory or nationalism. Rather, they tended to view their neighbors in religious terms—as Jews, Christians, or Muslims—or as members of “scientifically” defined races—Jewish, Arab, Semitic, or otherwise. Gribetz shows how these communities perceived one another, not as strangers vying for possession of a land that each regarded as exclusively their own, but rather as deeply familiar, if at times mythologized or distorted, others. Overturning conventional wisdom about the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gribetz demonstrates how the seemingly intractable nationalist contest in Israel and Palestine was, at its start, conceived of in very different terms.

Courageous and deeply compelling, Defining Neighbors is a landmark book that fundamentally recasts our understanding of the modern Jewish-Arab encounter and of the Middle East conflict today.

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Democratization and the Politics of Constitution-Making in Turkey

By Ergun Özbudun, Ömer F. Genckaya

Explores and illustrates how domestic and international factors shape the direction of democratization process with special reference to constitution making process in Turkey. Describes how all five Turkish constitutions were, by and large, the products of indigenous effort, although borrowing could be felt in certain limited areas. Argues that the constitutional reforms in the post-1983 period were the outco me of broad inter-party negotiations and agree ments as a response to the society’s demands for a more democratic and liberal political system. Finally, the constitutional revisions adopted since 1995 were strongly conditioned by Turkey’s hope of accession to the European Union. With these reforms, Turkey was successful in meeting the political criteria and started accession negotiations with the EU.

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Despair and Deliverance

Private Salvation in Contemporary Israel

The author examines the varieties of religious and secular salvation that have recently appeared in Israel as evidence for Israelis’ willingness to embrace private salvation in the face of immense cultural upheavals. Drawing on interviews, field observations, clinical data, and media reports collected over ten years, he surveys four roads to private salvation: the return to Judaism, new religions (sects or cults), psychotherapy movements such as est, and occultism. These dramatic forms of conversion are unique to Israeli society within the last decade, and Beit-Hallahmi provides a social history and social psychology of this transformation.

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Dialogue, Conflict Resolution, and Change

Arab-Jewish Encounters in Israel

Explores Arab-Jewish encounters and relations in Israel from both conflict resolution and educational perspectives. This is the first study to introduce the subject of Arab-Jewish relations and encounters in Israel from both conflict resolution and educational perspectives. Through a critical examination of Arab and Jewish encounter programs in Israel, the book reviews conflict resolution and intergroup theories and processes which are utilized in dealing with ethnic conflicts and offers a detailed presentation of intervention models applied by various encounter programs to promote dialogue, education for peace, and democracy between Arabs and Jews in Israel. The author investigates how encounter designs and processes can become part of a control system used by the dominant governmental majority’s institutes to maintain the status quo and reinforce political taboos. Also discussed are the different conflict perceptions held by Arabs and Jews, the relationship between those perceptions, and both sides’ expectations of the encounters. Abu-Nimer explores the impact of the political context (Intifada, Gulf War, and peace process) on the intervention design and process of those encounter groups, and contains a list of recommendations and guidelines to consider when designing and conducting encounters between ethnic groups. He reveals and explains why the Arab and Jewish encounter participants and leaders have different criteria of their encounter’s success and failure. The study is also applicable to dialogue and coexistence programs and conflict resolution initiatives in other ethnically divided societies, such as South Africa, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Sri Lanka, where the minority and majority have struggled to find peaceful ways to coexist.

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Disagreements of the Jurists

A Manual of Islamic Legal Theory

al-Qadi al-Numan

Al-Qadi al-Nuʿman was the chief legal theorist and ideologue of the North African Fatimid dynasty in the tenth century. This translation makes available in English for the first time his major work on Islamic legal theory, which presents a legal model in support of the Fatimids’ principle of legitimate rule over the Islamic community. Composed as part of a grand project to establish the theoretical bases of the official Fatimid legal school, Disagreements of the Jurists expounds a distinctly Shiʿi system of hermeneutics, which refutes the methods of legal interpretation adopted by Sunni jurists.
 
The work begins with a discussion of the historical causes of jurisprudential divergence in the first Islamic centuries, and goes on to address, point by point, the specific interpretive methods of Sunni legal theory, arguing that they are both illegitimate and ineffective. While its immediate mission is to pave the foundation of the legal Ismaʿili tradition, the text also preserves several Islamic legal theoretical works no longer extant—including Ibn Dawud’s manual, al-Wusul ila maʿrifat al-usul—and thus throws light on a critical stage in the historical development of Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh) that would otherwise be lost to history.  

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Dispatches from Pakistan

Madiha R. Tahir


Since 9/11, Pakistan has loomed large in the geopolitical imagination of the West. A key ally in the global war on terror, it is also the country in which Osama bin Laden was finally found and killed—and the one that has borne the brunt of much of the ongoing conflict’s collateral damage. Despite its prominence on the front lines and on the front pages, Pakistan has been depicted by Western observers simplistically in terms of its corruption, its fundamentalist Islamic beliefs, and its propensity for violence. Dispatches from Pakistan, in contrast, reveals the complexities, the challenges, and the joys of daily life in the country, from the poetry of Gilgit to the graffiti of Gwadar, from an army barrack in Punjab to the urban politics of Karachi.

This timely book brings together journalists, activists, academics, and artists to provide a rich, in-depth, and intriguing portrait of contemporary Pakistani society. Straddling a variety of boundaries—geographic, linguistic, and narrative—Dispatches from Pakistan is a vital attempt to speak for the multitude of Pakistanis who, in the face of seemingly unimaginable hardships, from drone strikes to crushing poverty, remain defiantly optimistic about their future. While engaging in conversations on issues that make the headlines in the West, the contributors also introduce less familiar dimensions of Pakistani life, highlighting the voices of urban poets, rural laborers, industrial workers, and religious-feminist activists—and recovering Pakistani society’s inquilabi (revolutionary) undercurrents and its hopeful overtones.

Contributors: Mahvish Ahmad; Nosheen Ali, U of California, Berkeley; Shafqat Hussain, Trinity College; Humeira Iqtidar, King’s College London; Amina Jamal, Ryerson U; Hafeez Jamali, U of Texas at Austin; Iqbak Khattak; Zahra Malkani; Raza Mir; Hammad Nasar; Junaid Rana, U of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign; Maliha Safri, Drew U; Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Lahore U of Management Sciences; Ayesha Siddiqa; Sultan-i-Rome, Government Jahanzeb Postgraduate College, Swat, Pakistan; Saadia Toor, Staten Island College.

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