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More than fifty years ago, Thomas Szasz showed that the concept of mental illness—a disease of the mind—is an oxymoron, a metaphor, a myth. Disease, in the medical sense, affects only the body. He also demonstrated that civil commitment and the insanity defense, the paradigmatic practices of psychiatry, are incompatible with the political values of personal responsibility and individual liberty. The psychiatric establishment’s rejection of Szasz’s critique posed no danger to his work: its defense of coercions and excuses as "therapy" supported his argument regarding the metaphorical nature of mental illness and the transparent immorality of brutal psychiatric control masquerading as humane medical care.
Trauma, Authorship, and the Diaspora in Arab Women's Writings
Far from offering another study that bemoans Arab women’s repression and veiling, Anxiety of Erasure looks at Arab women writers living in the diaspora who have translated their experiences into a productive and creative force. In this book, Al-Samman articulates the therapeutic effects of revisiting forgotten histories and of activating two cultural tropes: that of the maw’udah (buried female infant) and that of Shahrazad in the process of revolutionary change. She asks what it means to develop a national, gendered consciousness from diasporic locals while staying committed to the homeland. Al-Samman presents close readings of the fiction of five prominent authors whose works span over half a century and define the current status of Arab diaspora studies—Ghada al-Samman, Hanan al-Shaykh, Hamida al-Na‘na‘, Hoda Barakat, Samar Yazbek, and Salwa al-Neimi. Exploring the journeys in time and space undertaken by these women, Anxiety of Erasure shines a light on the ways in which writers remain participants in their homelands’ intellectual lives, asserting both the traumatic and the triumphant aspects of diaspora. The result is a nuanced Arab women’s poetic that celebrates rootlessness and rootedness, autonomy and belonging.
Gender, Violence, and Belonging
In this collection, Arab and Arab American feminists enlist their intimate experiences to challenge simplistic and long-held assumptions about gender, sexuality, and commitments to feminism and justice-centered struggles. Contributors hail from multiple geographical sites, spiritualities, occupations, sexualities, class backgrounds, and generations. Poets, creative writers, artists, scholars, and activists employ a mix of genres to express feminist issues and highlight how Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives simultaneously inhabit multiple, overlapping, and intersecting spaces: within families and communities; in anticolonial and antiracist struggles; in debates over spirituality and the divine; within radical, feminist, and queer spaces; in academia and on the street; and between each other. Contributors explore themes as diverse as the intersections between gender, sexuality, Orientalism, racism, Islamophobia, and Zionism, and the restoration of Arab Jews to Arab American histories. This book asks how members of diasporic communities navigate their sense of belonging when the country in which they live wages wars in the lands of their ancestors. Arab and Arab American Feminisms opens up new possibilities for placing grounded Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives at the center of gender studies, Middle East studies, American studies, and ethnic studies.
The Last of the Welcome Immigrants
Born of a Palestinian father and British mother, Bill Rezak has always been intrigued by the different worlds his parents came from. His father’s ancestors were highwaymen on the Arabian Peninsula in the eighteenth century. They sparred unsuccessfully with ruling Ottoman Turks and escaped with their family to America. His mother’s parents were sent to Canada from Great Britain into indentured servitude as children separately and alone at the ages of 10 and 16. They worked off their servitude, met, married and moved to New York State. In The Arab and the Brit, a memoir that spans multiple generations and countries, Rezak traces the remarkable lives of his ancestors. Narrating their experiences against the backdrop of two World Wars and an emerging modern Middle East, the author gives readers a textured and vivid immigrant story. Rezak recalls his paternal grandmother apprehending would-be Russian saboteurs during World War One, his grandfather’s time at Dr. Bernardo’s home, a shelter for destitute children, and his father’s work with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association following the war. Told with humor and captivating detail, The Arab and the Brit, chronicles the trials and triumphs of one family’s struggle to succeed in the New World.
The Travels of Elias al-Mûsili in the Seventeenth Century
In 1905, the Jesuit scholar Antûn Rabbât discovered the writings of Elias-al- Mûsili in a Jacobite diocese in Aleppo, Syria. al- Mûsili, a seventeenth century Arab and priest of the Chaldean Church, traveled widely across colonial Spanish America becoming the first person to visit the Americas from Baghdad. Rabbât transcribed into Arabic and published those portions relating to al-Mûsili’s travels and Middle Eastern historian Caesar Farah is the first to make these writings available in English translation.
A Strange Familiarity
In Arabs and the Art of Storytelling, the eminent Moroccan literary historian and critic Kilito revisits and reassesses, in a modern critical light, many traditional narratives of the Arab world. He brings to such celebrated texts as A Thousand and One Nights, Kalila and Dimna, and Kitab al-Bukhala’ refreshing and iconoclastic insight, giving new life to classic stories that are often treated as fossilized and untouchable cultural treasures. For Arab scholars and readers, poetry has for centuries taken precedence, overshadowing narrative as a significant literary genre. Here, Kilito demonstrates the key role narrative has played in the development of Arab belles lettres and moral philosophy. His urbane style has earned him a devoted following among specialists and general readers alike, making this translation an invaluable contribution to an English-speaking audience.
Culture, Place, and Authenticity
In rural America, perhaps more than other areas, high school students have the ability to contribute to the revitalization and sustainability of their home communities by engaging in oral history projects designed to highlight the values that are revered and worth saving in their region. The Arkansas Delta Oral History Project, a multiyear collaboration between the University of Arkansas
and several public high schools in small, rural Arkansas towns, gives students that opportunity. Through the project, trained University of Arkansas studentmentors work with high school students on in-depth writing projects that grow out of oral history interviews.
The Delta, a region where the religious roots of southern culture run deep and the traditions of cooking, farming, and hunting are passed from generation to generation, provides the ideal subject for oral history projects. In this detailed exploration of the project, the authors draw on theories of
cultural studies and critical pedagogy of place to show how students’ work on religion, food, and race exemplifies the use of community literacy to revitalize a distressed economic region. Advancing the discussion of place-based education, The Arkansas Delta Oral History Project is both inspirational and instructive in offering a successful model of an authentic literacy program.
Probing, wide-ranging, brimming with passion and outrage, Melhem’s eighth collection of poems grips the reader with accounts of individual triumphs and the ongoing catastrophic conflicts of our world. The author draws on her years as a painter and sculptor to bring a distinct visual and tactile quality to her poetry. In this volume, Melhem proceeds from robust individual portraits through observable terrains to traumatic visions of war. "Certain Personae" ranges from black writers to Abraham Lincoln, from a portrait of the suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to the poetry of John Updike, and finishes with paintings of Hannibal crossing the Alps. In "Mostly Political," the poems traverse the local and the universal: melting polar ice caps, capitalism, a painting by Max Ernst interpreted in antithetical ways, and a poem surveying Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the context of international events. "Wars," the third and last section, gives intimate and searing glimpses of the Trojan War, World War I, the Gulf War, the Iraq war, and the conflict over Palestine.
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.
Champion of Old New York
The concept of an "honest Tammany man" sounds like an oxymoron, but it became a reality in the curious career of Ashbel P. Fitch, who served New York City as a four-term congressman and a one-term city comptroller during the late nineteenth century. Although little known today, Fitch was well respected in his own day and played a pivotal role on both national and local stages. In the U.S. Congress, Fitch was a passionate advocate of New York City. His support of tariff reform and his efforts to have New York City chosen as the site for an 1892 World Exposition reflected his deep interest in issues of industrialization and urbanization. An ardent defender of immigrant rights, Fitch opposed the xenophobia of the times and championed cosmopolitan diversity. As New York’s comptroller, he oversaw the city’s finances during a time of terrible economic distress, withstanding threats from Tammany Hall on one side and from Mayor William L. Strong’s misguided reform administration on the other. In Ashbel P. Fitch, Remington succeeds in illuminating the independence and integrity of this unsung hero against the backdrop of the Gilded Age’s corrupt politics and fierce party loyalty.