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Anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa Cover

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Anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa

Into the New Millennium

Edited by Sherine Hafez and Susan Slyomovics

This volume combines ethnographic accounts of fieldwork with overviews of recent anthropological literature about the region on topics such as Islam, gender, youth, and new media that are of particular relevance for understanding the "Arab Spring" of 2011. It addresses contemporary debates about modernity, nation building, and the link between the ideology of power and the production of knowledge. Contributors include established and emerging scholars known for the depth and quality of their ethnographic writing and for their interventions in current theory.

Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism Cover

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Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism

Attraction and Repulsion

By Israel Gershoni

This collection rethinks old paradigms and widely accepted assumptions about the Arab response to fascism and Nazism, bringing to light Arab support for the Allied forces during World War II and its effect on the fate of the Middle East.

The Arab Revolts Cover

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The Arab Revolts

Dispatches on Militant Democracy in the Middle East

Edited by David McMurray and Amanda Ufheil-Somers

The 2011 eruptions of popular discontent across the Arab world, popularly dubbed the Arab Spring, were local manifestations of a regional mass movement for democracy, freedom, and human dignity. Authoritarian regimes were either overthrown or put on notice that the old ways of oppressing their subjects would no longer be tolerated. These essays from Middle East Report-–the leading source of timely reporting and insightful analysis of the region–cover events in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen. Written for a broad audience of students, policymakers, media analysts, and general readers, the collection reveals the underlying causes of the revolts by identifying key trends during the last two decades leading up to the recent insurrections.

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Arabic Literary Salons in the Islamic Middle Ages

Poetry, Public Performance, and the Presentation of the Past

Samer M. Ali

Arabic literary salons emerged in ninth-century Iraq and, by the tenth, were flourishing in Baghdad and other urban centers. In an age before broadcast media and classroom education, salons were the primary source of entertainment and escape for middle- and upper-rank members of society, serving also as a space and means for educating the young. Although salons relied on a culture of oral performance from memory, scholars of Arabic literature have focused almost exclusively on the written dimensions of the tradition. That emphasis, argues Samer Ali, has neglected the interplay of oral and written, as well as of religious and secular knowledge in salon society, and the surprising ways in which these seemingly discrete categories blurred in the lived experience of participants. Looking at the period from 500 to 1250, and using methods from European medieval studies, folklore, and cultural anthropology, Ali interprets Arabic manuscripts in order to answer fundamental questions about literary salons as a social institution. He identifies salons not only as sites for socializing and educating, but as loci for performing literature and oral history; for creating and transmitting cultural identity; and for continually reinterpreting the past. A fascinating recovery of a key element of humanistic culture, Ali’s work will encourage a recasting of our understanding of verbal art, cultural memory, and daily life in medieval Arab culture.

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Army of Shadows

Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948

Hillel Cohen

Inspired by stories he heard in the West Bank as a child, Hillel Cohen uncovers a hidden history in this extraordinary and beautifully written book—a history central to the narrative of the Israel-Palestine conflict but for the most part willfully ignored until now. In Army of Shadows, initially published in Israel to high acclaim and intense controversy, he tells the story of Arabs who, from the very beginning of the Arab-Israeli encounter, sided with the Zionists and aided them politically, economically, and in security matters. Based on newly declassified documents and research in Zionist, Arab, and British sources, Army of Shadows follows Bedouins who hosted Jewish neighbors, weapons dealers, pro-Zionist propagandists, and informers and local leaders who cooperated with the Zionists, and others to reveal an alternate history of the mandate period with repercussions extending to this day. The book illuminates the Palestinian nationalist movement, which branded these "collaborators" as traitors and persecuted them; the Zionist movement, which used them to undermine Palestinian society from within and betrayed them; and the collaborators themselves, who held an alternate view of Palestinian nationalism. Army of Shadows offers a crucial new view of history from below and raises profound questions about the roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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Artisan Entrepreneurs in Cairo and Early Modern Capitalism (1600-1800)

Nelly Hanna

Little has been written about the economic history of Egypt prior to its incorporation into the European capitalist economy. While historians have mined archives and court documents to create a picture of the commercial activities, networks, and infrastructure of merchants during this time, few have documented a similar picture of the artisans and craftspeople. Artisans outnumbered merchants, and their economic weight was considerable, yet details about their lives, the way they carried out their work, and their role or position in the economy are largely unknown. Hanna seeks to redress this gap with Artisan Entrepreneurs in Cairo and Early Modern Capitalism (1600–1800) by locating and exploring the role of artisans in the historical process. Offering richly detailed portraits as well as an overview of the Ottoman Empire’s economic landscape, Hanna incorporates artisans into the historical development of the period, portraying them in the context of their work, their families, and their social relations. These artisans developed a variety of capitalist practices, both as individuals and collectively in their guilds. Responding to the demands of expanding commercial environments in Egypt and Europe, artisans found ways to adapt both production techniques and the organization of production. Hanna details the ways in which artisans defied the constraints of the guilds and actively engaged in the markets of Europe, demonstrating how Egyptian artisan production was able to compete and survive in a landscape of growing European trade.

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Back Channel Negotiation

Secrecy in the Middle East Peace Process

Anthony Wanis-St. John

Wanis-St. John takes on the question of whether the complex and often perilous secret negotiations between principal parties prove to be instrumental paths to reconciliation or rather roadblocks that disrupt the process. Using the Palestinian-Israeli peace process as a framework, the author focuses on the uses and misuses of "back channel" negotiations. He discusses how top-level PLO and Israeli government officials have often resorted to secret negotiation channels even when there were designated, acknowledged negotiation teams already at work. Intense scrutiny by the media, pressure from constituents, and the reactions of the public all become severe constraints to the process, causing leaders to seek out such back channels. The impact of these secret talks within the peace process over time has largely been unexplored.

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Baghdad Bulletin

Dispatches on the American Occupation

David Enders

David Enders has a stunning independent streak and the courage to trust his own perceptions as he reports from outside the bubble Americans have created for themselves in Iraq. ---Joe Sacco, author of Safe Area Gorazde "Baghdad Bulletin takes us where mainstream news accounts do not go. Disrupting the easy clichés that dominate U.S. journalism, Enders blows away the media fog of war. The result is a book that challenges Americans to see through double speak and reconsider the warfare being conducted in their names." ---Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death "Journalism at its finest and on a shoestring to boot. David Enders shows that courage and honesty can outshine big-budget mainstream media. Wry but self-critical, Baghdad Bulletin tells a story that a few of us experienced but every journalist, nay every citizen, should read." ---Pratap Chatterjee, Managing Editor and Project Director, CorpWatch "Young and tenacious, Dave Enders went, saw, and wrote it down. Here it is-a well-informed and detailed tale of Iraq's decline under American rule. Baghdad Bulletin offers tragic politics, wacky people, and keen insights about what really matters on the ground in Iraq." ---Christian Parenti "I wrote my first piece for Baghdad Bulletin after visiting the mass graves at Al-Hilla in 2003. The Baghdad Bulletin was essential reading in the first few months after the end of the war. I handed that particular copy to Prime Minister Tony Blair. I am only sorry that I cannot read it anymore. David Enders and his team were brave, enterprising, and idealistic." ---Rt. Hon. Ann Clwyd, member of the British Parliament Baghdad Bulletin is a street-level account of the war and turbulent postwar period as seen through the eyes of the young independent journalist David Enders. The book recounts Enders's story of his decision to go to Iraq, where he opened the only English-language newspaper completely written, printed, and distributed there during the war. Young, courageous, and anti-authoritarian, Enders is the first reporter to cover the war as experienced by ordinary Iraqis. Deprived of the press credentials that gave his embedded colleagues access to press conferences and officially sanitized information, Enders tells the story of a different war, outside the Green Zone. It is a story in which the struggle of everyday life is interspersed with moments of sheer terror and bizarre absurdity: wired American troops train their guns on terrified civilians; Iraqi musicians prepare a recital for Coalition officials who never show; traveling clowns wreak havoc in a Baghdad police station. Orphans and intellectuals, activists and insurgents: Baghdad Bulletin depicts the unseen complexity of Iraqi society and gives us a powerful glimpse of a new kind of warfare, one that coexists with-and sometimes tragically veers into-the everyday rhythms of life.

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Becoming Israeli

National Ideals and Everyday Life in the 1950s

Anat Helman

With a light touch and many wonderful illustrations, historian Anat Helman investigates “life on the ground” in Israel during the first years of statehood. She looks at how citizens—natives of the land, longtime immigrants, and newcomers—coped with the state’s efforts to turn an incredibly diverse group of people into a homogenous whole. She investigates the efforts to make Hebrew the lingua franca of Israel, the uses of humor, and the effects of a constant military presence, along with such familiar aspects of daily life as communal dining on the kibbutz, the nightmare of trying to board a bus, and moviegoing as a form of escapism.  In the process Helman shows how ordinary people adapted to the standards and rules of the political and cultural elites and negotiated the chaos of early statehood.

Becoming Turkish Cover

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Becoming Turkish

Nationalist Reforms and Cultural Negotiations in Early Republican Turkey, 1923-1945

by Hale Yilmaz

“Becoming Turkish” seeks to provide a better understanding of the modernist nation-building processes in post-Ottoman Turkey through a rare perspective in the field that stresses the social and cultural dimensions and everyday negotiations that occurred during the leadership of Mustafa Kemal. Employing an interdisciplinary approach and drawing on a wide range of primary sources, including new archival evidence and oral histories, Yilmaz’s work delineates several specific examples of how individuals become Turkish citizens. She examines how Republican reforms were implemented and how they effected social and cultural change. By focusing on four specific areas of the state’s attempt to produce a new “Turk” and a modern Turkish nation (men’s clothing, women’s dress, language, and celebrations), she shows how individuals and communities received, reacted to, negotiated, and experienced reforms in their everyday lives. While the emphasis of the book is on the Turkish experience specifically, “Becoming Turkish” offers rich insights into similar processes throughout the Middle East and in other Islamic and colonial contexts which will arguably become more relevant every day.

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