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Colonial Jerusalem

The Spatial Construction of Identity and Difference in a City of Myth, 1948-2012

by Thomas Philip Abowd

In one of the few anthropological works focusing on a contemporary Middle Eastern city, Colonial Jerusalem explores a vibrant urban center at the core of the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This book shows how colonialism, far from being simply a fixture of the past as is often suggested, remains a crucial component of Palestinian and Israeli realities today. Abowd deftly illuminates everyday life under Israel’s long military occupation as it is defined by processes and conditions of “apartness” and separation as Palestinians are increasingly regulated and controlled. Abowd examines how both national communities are progressively divided by walls, checkpoints, and separate road networks in one of the most segregated cities in the world. Drawing upon recent theories on racial politics, colonialism, and urban spatial dynamics, Colonial Jerusalem analyzes the politics of myth, history, and memory across an urban landscape integral to the national cosmologies of both Palestinians and Israelis and meaningful to all communities.

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Colonialism and Revolution in the Middle East

Social and Cultural Origins of Egypt's Urabi Movement

Juan Ricardo Cole

In this book Juan R. I. Cole challenges traditional elite-centered conceptions of the conflict that led to the British occupation of Egypt in September 1882. For a year before the British intervened, Egypt's viceregal government and the country's influential European community had been locked in a struggle with the nationalist supporters of General Ahmad al-`Urabi. Although most Western observers still see the `Urabi movement as a "revolt" of junior military officers with only limited support among the Egyptian people, Cole maintains that it was a broadly based social revolution hardly underway when it was cut off by the British. While arguing this fresh point of view, he also proposes a theory of revolutions against informal or neocolonial empires, drawing parallels between Egypt in 1882, the Boxer Rebellion in China, and the Islamic Revolution in modern Iran.

In a thorough examination of the changing Egyptian political culture from 1858 through the `Urabi episode, Cole shows how various social strata--urban guilds, the intelligentsia, and village notables--became "revolutionary." Addressing issues raised by such scholars as Barrington Moore and Theda Skocpol, his book combines four complementary approaches: social structure and its socioeconomic context, organization, ideology, and the ways in which unexpected conjunctures of events help drive a revolution.

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Communal Webs

Communication and Culture in Contemporary Israel

This book brings together insights derived from a detailed exploration of Israeli cultural patterns of communication, highlighting their role in the processes of culture formation, maintenance, and change. Katriel’s ethnographic examples provide a richly-textured account of Israeli cultural experience, illustrating the potential of a cultural analysis grounded in the study of ideologically-informed communicative practices.

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Competitive Archaeology in Jordan

Narrating Identity from the Ottomans to the Hashemites

By Elena D. Corbett

Tracing the complex history of Jordan through its archaeology, Competitive Archaeology in Jordan examines how foreign and indigenous powers have competed for and used antiquities to create their own narratives, national identities, borders, and conceptions of the nation.

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The Concubine, the Princess, and the Teacher

Voices from the Ottoman Harem

Translated and edited by Douglas Scott Brookes

In the Western imagination, the Middle Eastern harem was a place of sex, debauchery, slavery, miscegenation, power, riches, and sheer abandon. But for the women and children who actually inhabited this realm of the imperial palace, the reality was vastly different. In this collection of translated memoirs, three women who lived in the Ottoman imperial harem in Istanbul between 1876 and 1924 offer a fascinating glimpse “behind the veil” into the lives of Muslim palace women of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The memoirists are Filizten, concubine to Sultan Murad V; Princess Ayse, daughter of Sultan Abdulhamid II; and Safiye, a schoolteacher who instructed the grandchildren and harem ladies of Sultan Mehmed V. Their recollections of the Ottoman harem reveal the rigid protocol and hierarchy that governed the lives of the imperial family and concubines, as well as the hundreds of slave women and black eunuchs in service to them. The memoirists show that, far from being a place of debauchery, the harem was a family home in which polite and refined behavior prevailed. Douglas Brookes explains the social structure of the nineteenth-century Ottoman palace harem in his introduction. These three memoirs, written across a half century and by women of differing social classes, offer a fuller and richer portrait of the Ottoman imperial harem than has ever before been available in English.

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Connected in Cairo

Growing up Cosmopolitan in the Modern Middle East

Mark Allen Peterson

For members of Cairo's upper classes, cosmopolitanism is a form of social capital, deployed whenever they acquire or consume transnational commodities, or goods that are linked in the popular imagination to other, more "modern" places. In a series of thickly described and carefully contextualized case studies -- of Arabic children's magazines, Pokémon, private schools and popular films, coffee shops and fast-food restaurants -- Mark Allen Peterson describes the social practices that create class identities. He traces these processes from childhood into adulthood, examining how taste and style intersect with a changing educational system and economic liberalization. Peterson reveals how uneasy many cosmopolitan Cairenes are with their new global identities, and describes their efforts to root themselves in the local through religious, nationalist, or linguistic practices.

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Conscience at War

The Israeli Soldier as a Moral Critic

An exploration of the moral and intellectual conflict of Israeli citizens who have resisted military service, and of how they justify their choices of action. Israel’s security is maintained largely by civilians in uniform. The chronic state of war in Israel requires that every Israeli civilian serve in the Israel Defense Forces as a reservist until the age of 55. The focus of this book is the intellectual and moral challenges selective conscientious objection poses for resisters in Israel. It is the first psychological study of the Intifada refusniks. The 1982–1985 Lebanon War was a dramatic turning point in the intensity, depth, forms, and magnitude of criticism against the army, and this war serves as the starting point for Ruth Linn’s inquiry into moral criticism of Israeli soldiers in morally no-win situations during the Intifada. In each of these conflicts, about 170 reserve soldiers became selective conscientious objectors. In each conflict, however, numerous objecting soldiers also “refused to refuse,” proclaiming that their right to voice their moral concern springs from their dedication to, and fulfillment of, the hardship of military obligation. Linn uses the theories of Rawls, Walzer, Kohlberg, and Gilligan as a framework for understanding and interpreting interviews with objecting soldiers. By this means, she seeks to answer such questions as: How would various groups of objecting soldiers justify their specific choice of action? What are the psychological, moral, and non-moral characteristics of those individuals who decided to be, or refused to be, patriotic? And how did the Intifada, as a limited yet morally problematic military conflict, affect the moral thinking, emotions, and moral language of long term soldiers?

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Consorts of the Caliphs

Women and the Court of Baghdad

Ibn al-Sai

Consorts of the Caliphs is a seventh/thirteenth-century compilation of anecdotes about thirty-eight women who were, as the title suggests, consorts to those in power, most of them concubines of the early Abbasid caliphs and wives of latter-day caliphs and sultans. This slim but illuminating volume is one of the few surviving texts by Ibn al-Saʿi (d. 674 H/1276 AD). Ibn al-Saʿi was a prolific Baghdadi scholar who chronicled the academic and political elites of his city, and whose career straddled the final years of the Abbasid dynasty and the period following the cataclysmic Mongol invasion of 656 H/1258 AD.                                                                                                                   

In this work, Ibn al-Saʿi is keen to forge a connection between the munificent wives of his time and the storied lovers of the so-called golden age of Baghdad. Thus, from the earlier period, we find Harun al-Rashid pining for his brother’s beautiful slave, Ghadir, and the artistry of such musical and literary celebrities as ʿArib and Fadl, who bested the male poets and singers of their day. From times closer to Ibn al-Saʿi’s own—when Abbasid authority was trying to reassert itself and Baghdad was again a major center of intellectual and religious activity—we meet women such as Banafsha, who endowed law colleges, had bridges built, and provisioned pilgrims bound for Mecca; slave women whose funeral services were led by caliphs; and noble Saljuq princesses from Afghanistan.

Informed by the author’s own sources, his insider knowledge, and well-known literary materials, these singular biographical sketches, though delivered episodically, bring the belletristic culture of the Baghdad court to life, particularly in the personal narratives and poetry of culture heroines otherwise lost to history.

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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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