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History > Middle Eastern History

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An Incurable Past Cover

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An Incurable Past

Experience and Remembrance of Nasser's Egypt

Mériam N. Belli

Mid-century Egypt seems to shift its shape in light of ordinary peoples’ memories. In An Incurable Past, Mériam Belli examines collective memory, oral histories, and everyday communications to reveal not just the history of mid-twentieth-century Egypt but also the ways in which ordinary people experience and remember the past. Using official archives, government publications, press reportage, fiction, textbooks, cinema, art, and public rituals, Belli constructs a ground-breaking theoretical framework of "historical utterances" which provokes questions about the relationship between remembrance and reality. Belli argues that such personal testimonies and public representations allow us a deeper understanding of Egypt’s many sociocultural layers in the 1950s and 1960s. She spotlights three topics of vernacular expression in modern Egypt: education, the anti-colonial Limby Festival, and the 1968 apparition of the Virgin Mary at a Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo. Linked by the mid-century shift from communal life to an industrial and individuated society, these expressions also disclose the contradictory influence of ideologically homogenizing state policies.

Examining history not as it was but as it is remembered, this book contextualizes the classist and deeply disappointing post-Nasserist period that has inspired today’s Egyptian revolutionaries.

Inextricably Bonded Cover

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Inextricably Bonded

Israeli Arab and Jewish Writers Re-Visioning Culture

Rachel Feldhay Brenner

    Despite the tragic reality of the continuing Israeli-Arab conflict and deep-rooted beliefs that the chasm between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs is unbridgeable, this book affirms the bonds between the two communities. Rachel Feldhay Brenner demonstrates that the literatures of both ethnic groups defy the ideologies that have obstructed dialogue between the two peoples.
    Brenner argues that literary critics have ignored the variety and the dissent in the novels of both Arab and Jewish writers in Israel, giving them interpretations that embrace the politics of exclusion and conform with Zionist ideology. Brenner offers insightful new readings that compare fiction by Jewish writers Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, and others with fiction written in Hebrew by such Arab-Israeli writers as Atallah Mansour, Emile Habiby, and Anton Shammas. This parallel analysis highlights the moral and psychological dilemmas faced by both the Jewish victors and the Arab vanquished, and Brenner suggests that the hope for release from the historical trauma lies—on both sides—in reaching an understanding with and of the adversary.
    Drawing upon the theories of Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, Sigmund Freud, Emanuel Levinas, and others, Inextricably Bonded is an innovative and illuminating examination of literary dissent from dominant ideology.

Inter-Arab Alliances Cover

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Inter-Arab Alliances

Regime Security and Jordanian Foreign Policy

Curtis R. Ryan

There is a method to the apparent madness of Arab politics. In a region where friends can become enemies and enemies become friends seemingly at the drop of the hat, Curtis Ryan argues that there is logic to be found. Through fourteen years of field research and interviews with key policy makers, Ryan examines the remarkably stable Jordan as a microcosm of the region’s politics. He traces the last four decades of Jordanian foreign policy in an attempt to better understand what seems like chaos.

What Ryan finds is an approach that is fundamentally different from alliances made in the West, in both how and why they are made. With governmental change and upheaval occurring on a seemingly regular basis, Arab nations approach diplomacy with much different means and potential ends. The impact of this diplomacy is arguably the most immediate in the world today, as conflict with words and conflict with weapons are sometimes separated by mere days.

The topic of international relations in the Arab world is as complex as it is important. Ryan gives the reader the theoretical background, and shows its direct applicability through the foreign policy of Jordan.

Interest Groups and Political Change in Israel Cover

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Interest Groups and Political Change in Israel

This book challenges the conventional view of Israeli politics as an ideological, stron party system. Focusing on three important and influential interest groups, the Gush Emunim, the Ihud kibbutz federation, and the Manufacturers’ Association, Drezon-Tepler presents a comprehensive view of Israel’s society and politics. Integrated here are unpublished sources, and material from personal interviews with prominent personalities including Prime Ministers Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, and Minister Ariel Sharon. The book illuminates such current controversial topics in Israel as the influence of the volatile Gush Emunim, the country’s chronically unstable economy, and the continued vitality of the kibbutz movement.

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The International Relations of the Persian Gulf

edited by Mehran Kamrava

For much of the contemporary history of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf has stood at the center of the region’s strategic significance. At the same time, the Gulf has been wracked by political instability and tension. As far back as the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Britain zeroed in on the Persian Gulf as a critical passageway to its crown jewel, India, and entered into protectorate agreements with local ruling families, thus bestowing on them international legitimacy and, eventually, the resources and support necessary to ascend to kingships. Today, the region is undergoing profound changes that range from rapid economic and infrastructural development to tumultuous social and cultural transformations. Far from eroding the area’s political significance, these changes have only accentuated rivalries and tensions and have brought to the forefront new challenges to international security and stability. Together, the essays in this volume present a comprehensive, detailed, and accessible account of the international politics of the region. Focusing on the key factors that give the Persian Gulf its strategic significance, contributors look at the influence of vast deposits of oil and natural gas on international politics, the impact of the competing centers of power of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the nature of relationships among countries within the Persian Gulf, and the evolving interaction between Islam and politics. Throughout the collection, issues of internal and international security are shown to be central. Drawing on the comprehensive knowledge and experience of experts in the region, The International Politics of the Persian Gulf shines a bright light on this area, offering insights and thoughtful analyses on the critical importance of this troubled region to global politics..

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Intifada Hits the Headlines

How the Israeli Press Misreported the Outbreak of the Second Palestinian Uprising

Daniel Dor

In this nuanced and detailed study of newspaper reporting during the escalation of the second Intifada in the fall of 2000, Daniel Dor shows how real events are subject to distortion and manipulation by the media. In an analysis of the heart of Israel's media establishment -- the newspapers Yediot Ahronot, Ma'ariv, and Ha'aretz -- he finds a wide gap between the reality reported by field reporters and the eventual newspaper accounts framed by editors. Led by beliefs, opinions, and emotional responses rather than the facts provided by their reporters, these editors created a platform on which a new and fearful narrative for Israeli--Palestinian relations was built. Yet while Dor demonstrates that the media construct the news rather than simply report it, his sophisticated analysis also shows that no one entity or person is responsible. Rather than a supreme authority, Dor argues, it is the influence of fear, anger, ignorance, and a desire to please and sell newspapers that threatens the freedom of the press in a liberal democracy.

Iran Cover

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Iran

From Religious Dispute to Revolution

Michael M. J. Fischer

Unlike much of the instant analysis that appeared at the time of the Iranian revolution, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution is based upon extensive fieldwork carried out in Iran. Michael M. J. Fischer draws upon his rich experience with the mullahs and their students in the holy city of Qum, composing a picture of Iranian society from the inside—the lives of ordinary people, the way that each class interprets Islam, and the role of religion and religious education in the culture. Fischer’s book, with its new introduction updating arguments for the post-Revolutionary period, brings a dynamic view of a society undergoing metamorphosis, which remains fundamental to understanding Iranian society in the early twenty-first century.

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Islam and the Challenge of Civilization

Abdelwahab Meddeb

Abdelwahab Meddeb makes an urgent case for an Islamic reformation, located squarely in Western Europe, now home to millions of Muslims, where Christianity and Judaism have come to coexist with secular humanism and positivist law. He is not advocating "moderate" Islam, which he characterizes as thinly disguised Wahabism, but rather an Islam inspired by the great Sufi thinkers, whose practice of religion was not bound by doctrine. To accomplish this, Meddeb returns to the doctrinal question of the text as transcription of the uncreated word of God and calls upon Muslims to distinguish between Islam's spiritual message and the temporal, material, and historically grounded origins of its founding scriptures. He contrasts periods of Islamic history--when philosophers and theologians engaged in lively dialogue with other faiths and civilizations, and contributed to transmitting the Hellenistic tradition to early modern Europe--with modern Islam's collective amnesia of this past. Meddeb wages a war of interpretations in this book, in his attempt to demonstrate that Muslims cannot join the concert of nations unless they set aside outmoded notions such as jihad and realize that feuding among the monotheisms must give way to the more important issue of what it means to be a citizen in today's post-religious global setting.

Islam, Charity, and Activism Cover

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Islam, Charity, and Activism

Middle-Class Networks and Social Welfare in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen

Janine A. Clark

Throughout the Middle East, Islamist charities and social welfare organizations play a major role in addressing the socioeconomic needs of Muslim societies, independently of the state. Through case studies of Islamic medical clinics in Egypt, the Islamic Center Charity Society in Jordan, and the Islah Women's Charitable Society in Yemen, Janine A. Clark examines the structure and dynamics of moderate Islamic institutions and their social and political impact. Questioning the widespread assumption that such organizations primarily serve the poorer classes, Clark argues that these organizations in fact are run by and for the middle class. Rather than the vertical recruitment or mobilization of the poor that they are often presumed to promote, Islamic social institutions play an important role in strengthening social networks that bind middle-class professionals, volunteers, and clients. Ties of solidarity that develop along these horizontal lines foster the development of new social networks and the diffusion of new ideas.

Islamic Activism Cover

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Islamic Activism

A Social Movement Theory Approach

Edited by Quintan Wiktorowicz

"... [Will] have an impact on two important fields of scholarship: social movement theory and the study of Islamic activist movements." -- John Voll, Georgetown University

This volume represents the first comprehensive attempt to incorporate the study of Islamic activism into social movement theory. It argues that the dynamics, processes, and organization of Islamic activism can be understood as important elements of contention that transcend the specificity of "Islam" as a system of meaning and identity and a basis for collective action. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, the contributors show how social movement theory can be utilized to address a wide range of questions about the mobilization of contention in support of Muslim causes. The book covers myriad examples of Islamic activism (Sunni and Shi'a) in eight countries (Arab and non-Arab), including case studies of violence and contention, networks and alliances, and culture and framing.

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