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New Books in Middle Eastern Studies

English, Cultural, 2 seasons, 1079 episodes, 1 day, 14 hours, 42 minutes
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Interviews with Scholars of the Middle East about their New Books Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
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Anat Kidron and Shuli Linder Yarkony, "The Jewish Community of Acre in Mandatory Palestine: The Story of a Forgotten Community" (de Gruyter, 2024)

For a brief moment in the history of Acre, there was a Hebrew community that linked old and new settlements. It had a national-Zionist orientation and consisted of Jews of local and Mizrachic origin. This community is no longer visible in the cityscape, and its history has disappeared from the collective Zionist memory - but it played a role in building the Jewish national community in Palestine. The unusual history of Acre shows how it succeeded in attracting new, nationalist settlers. Anat Kidron and Shuli Linder Yarkony's book The Jewish Community of Acre in Mandatory Palestine: The Story of a Forgotten Community (de Gruyter, 2024) seeks to illuminate the complexity and diversity of the Zionist enterprise in relation to the Arab and mixed towns of Mandatory Palestine by raising questions about the relationship between the "history of a place" and "national history." By describing the failure of the Hebrew settlement in the Mandate territory of Acre, the book views the Zionist project as a fascinating intersection between the dreams of those who created the leading narratives and between local interests and the unique geographical conditions of the region. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/18/20241 hour, 9 minutes, 8 seconds
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Tahera Qutbuddin, trans., "Nahj al-Balāghah: The Wisdom and Eloquence of ʿAlī" (Brill, 2024)

Nahj al-Balagha is among the most powerful, consequential, and linguistically brilliant masterpieces of Arabic and of Islamic thought and literature. Based on the orations, letters, and sayings of wisdom of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661), the first Imam or successor to Prophet Muhammad in Shi‘i Islam and the fourth caliph in Sunni Islam, this oral treasure was compiled and brought together as a text by the late tenth/early eleventh scholar and poet Al-Sharif al-Radi (d. 1015).  In this episode I speak with Professor Tahera Qutbuddin who has provided us with a majestic and brilliant complete English translation of Nahj al-Balagha titled Nahj al-Balāgha: The Wisdom and Eloquence of ‘Alī (Brill, 2024), a parallel English-Arabic text published open access by Brill. The publication of this volume is an event of seismic importance in the study of Islam, religion, and Arabic. Qutbuddin’s translation is animated with the purpose of rendering the Arabic text of Nahj al-Balagha in English in a fashion that amplifies its literary and philosophical potency, a task at which she excels throughout the translation. The experience of reading this translation is nothing short of a deeply moving, philosophically enriching, and linguistically powerful rhapsody. In addition to an eminently user friendly translation with the particular sections and moments of Nahj al-Balagha clearly marked out, Qutbuddin also presents an erudite account of the text’s reception, reception history, and archival density. This outstanding volume will also be a joy to teach and use as primary source material in a range of courses on Islam, religion, Arabic, and the Humanities more broadly. SherAli Tareen is Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize and was selected as a finalist for the 2021 American Academy of Religion Book Award. His second book is called Perilous Intimacies: Debating Hindu-Muslim Friendship after Empire (Columbia University Press, 2023). His other academic publications are available here. Listener feedback is most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/17/20241 hour, 43 minutes, 41 seconds
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Andrew M. Gardner, "The Fragmentary City: Migration, Modernity, and Difference in the Urban Landscape of Doha, Qatar" (Cornell UP, 2024)

As Andrew M. Gardner explains in The Fragmentary City: Migration, Modernity, and Difference in the Urban Landscape of Doha, Qatar (Cornell UP, 2024) in Qatar and elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula, nearly nine out of every ten residents are foreign noncitizens. Many of these foreigners reside in the cities that have arisen in Qatar and neighboring states. The book provides an overview of the gulf migration system with its diverse migrant experiences. Gardner focuses on the ways that demography and global mobility have shaped the city of Doha and the urban characteristics of the Arabian Peninsula in general. Building on those migrant experiences, the book turns to the spatial politics of the modern Arabian city, exploring who is placed where in the city and how this social landscape came into historical existence. The author reflects on what we might learn from these cities and the societies that inhabit them. Gardner frames the contemporary cities of the Arabian Peninsula not as poor imitations of Western urban modernity, but instead as cities on the frontiers of a global, neoliberal, and increasingly urban future. Andrew M. Gardner is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. He has focused his research on the places, peoples and societies that interact on the Arabian Peninsula, where he has conducted extensive fieldwork. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/15/202446 minutes, 9 seconds
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Shakespeare Through Islamic Worlds

Radio ReOrient is back for another season, and this time Hizer Mir is joined by a new team of hosts: Claudia Radiven, Saeed Khan and Chella Ward. In this first episode Hizer and Chella interview Ambereen Dadabhoy, associate professor of literature at Harvey Mudd College, about her brand new book Shakespeare through Islamic Worlds (Routledge, 2024). In the process we discover Shakespeare’s secret Muslim characters, travel around an early modern Mediterranean that is nothing like the border of Europe we know today, and ask whether it is possible to talk about Islamophobia much earlier in history than its conventional beginnings. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/11/20241 hour, 4 minutes, 41 seconds
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Peter Bergamin, "The Making of the Israeli Far-Right: Abba Ahimeir and Zionist Ideology” (I. B. Tauris, 2019)

Peter Bergamin’s, new book, The Making of the Israeli Far-Right: Abba Ahimeir and Zionist Ideology (I. B. Tauris, 2019), is an intellectual biography of one of the most important propagators of the Maximalist Revisionist stream in Zionism ideology. The book positions Ahimeir within the contexts of the Israeli right and the Zionist movement in general, and corrects some common misunderstandings surrounding the man and his ideology. Yaacov Yadgar is the Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is Sovereign Jews: Israel, Zionism and Judaism (SUNY Press, 2017). You can read more of Yadgar’s work here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/10/202437 minutes, 58 seconds
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Eugene Rogan, "The Damascus Events: The 1860 Massacre and the Destruction of the Old Ottoman World" (Basic Book, 2024)

The Damascus Events: The 1860 Massacre and the Destruction of the Old Ottoman World (Basic Book, 2024) recreates one of the watershed moments in the history of the Middle East: the ferocious outbreaks of disorder across the Levant in 1860 which resulted in the massacre of thousands of Christians in Damascus. Eugene Rogan brilliantly recreates the lost world of the Middle East under Ottoman rule. The once mighty empire was under pressure from global economic change and European imperial expansion. Reforms in the mid-nineteenth century raised tensions across the empire, nowhere more so than in Damascus. A multifarious city linked by caravan trade to Baghdad, the Mediterranean and Mecca, the chaos of languages, customs and beliefs made Damascus a warily tolerant place. Until the reforms began to advantage the minority Christian community at the expense of the Muslim majority. But in 1860 people who had generally lived side by side for generations became bitter enemies as news of civil war in Mount Lebanon arrived in the city. Under the threat of a French expeditionary force, the Ottomans dealt with the disaster effectively and ruthlessly - but the old, generally quite tolerant Damascene world lay in ruins. It would take a quarter of a century to restore stability and prosperity to the Syrian capital. This is both an essential book for understanding the emergence of the modern Middle East from the destruction of the old Ottoman world, and a uniquely gripping story. Eugene Rogan is author of the bestselling The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920. He is professor of modern Middle Eastern history at the University of Oxford and Director of the Middle East Centre, St Antony's College, Oxford. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/8/202443 minutes, 41 seconds
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Asaf Elia-Shalev, "Israel's Black Panthers: The Radicals Who Punctured a Nation's Founding Myth" (U California Press, 2024)

Asaf Elia-Shalev's book Israel's Black Panthers: The Radicals Who Punctured a Nation's Founding Myth (U California Press, 2024) tells the story of the young and impoverished Moroccan Israeli Jews who challenged their country's political status quo and rebelled against the ethnic hierarchy of Israeli life in the 1970s. Inspired by the American group of the same name, the Black Panthers mounted protests and a years-long political campaign for the rights of Mizrahim, or Jews of Middle Eastern ancestry. They managed to rattle the country's establishment and change the course of Israel's history through the mass mobilization of a Jewish underclass. This book draws on archival documents and interviews with elderly activists to capture the movement's history and reveal little-known stories from within the group. Asaf Elia-Shalev explores the parallels between the Israeli and American Black Panthers, offering a unique perspective on the global struggle against racism and oppression. In twenty short and captivating chapters, Israel's Black Panthers provides a textured and novel account of the movement and reflects on the role that Mizrahim can play in the future of Israel. Roberto Mazza is currently a visiting lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/7/20241 hour, 3 minutes, 18 seconds
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Gizem Zencirci, "The Muslim Social: Neoliberalism, Charity, and Poverty in Turkey" (Syracuse UP, 2024)

Since coming to power in 2002, Turkey’s governing party, the AKP, has made poverty relief a central part of their political program. In addition to neoliberal reforms, AKP’s program has involved an emphasis on Islamic charity that is unprecedented in the history of the Turkish Republic. To understand the causes and consequences of this phenomenon, Zencirci introduces the concept of the Muslim Social, defined as a welfare regime that reimagined and reconfigured Islamic charitable practices to address the complex needs of a modern market society. In The Muslim Social: Neoliberalism, Charity, and Poverty in Turkey (Syracuse UP, 2024), Zencirci explores the blending of religious values and neoliberal elements in dynamic, flexible, and unexpected ways. Although these governmental assemblages of Islamic neoliberalism produced new forms of generosity, distinctive notions of poverty, and novel ways of relating to others in society, Zencirci reveals how this welfare regime privileged managerial efficiency and emotional well-being at the expense of other objectives such as equality, development, or justice. The book provides a lens onto the everyday life of Islamic neoliberalism, while also mapping the kind of political concerns that animate poverty governance in our capitalist present. Gizem Zencirci is an associate professor of political science at Providence College. Her work has been published in journals such as the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and the Journal of Cultural Economy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/7/202431 minutes, 59 seconds
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Wendy Pearlman, "The Home I Worked to Make: Voices from the New Syrian Diaspora" (Liveright, 2024)

In 2011, Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom. Brutal government repression transformed peaceful protests into one of the most devastating conflicts of our times, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions.  The Home I Worked to Make: Voices from the New Syrian Diaspora (Liveright, 2024) takes Syria’s refugee outflow as its point of departure. Based on hundreds of interviews conducted across more than a decade, it probes a question as intimate as it is universal: What is home? With gripping immediacy, Syrians now on five continents share stories of leaving, losing, searching, and finding (or not finding) home. Across this tapestry of voices, a new understanding emerges: home, for those without the privilege of taking it for granted, is both struggle and achievement. Recasting “refugee crises” as acts of diaspora-making, The Home I Worked to Make challenges readers to grapple with the hard-won wisdom of those who survive war and to see, with fresh eyes, what home means in their own lives. Wendy Pearlman is professor of political science at Northwestern University. She speaks Arabic and is the author of five books on the Middle East, including We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria, which was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/5/202444 minutes, 23 seconds
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Naosuke Mukoyama, "Fueling Sovereignty: Colonial Oil and the Creation of Unlikely States" (Cambridge UP, 2024)

European colonialism was often driven by the pursuit of natural resources, and the resulting colonisation and decolonization processes have had a profound impact on the formation of the majority of sovereign states that exist today. But how exactly have natural resources influenced the creation of formerly colonised states? And would the world map of sovereign states look significantly different if not for these resources? These questions are at the heart of Fueling Sovereignty: Colonial Oil and the Creation of Unlikely States (Cambridge University Press, 2024), which focuses primarily on oil as the most significant natural resource of the modern era. Dr. Naosuke Mukoyama provides a compelling analysis of how colonial oil politics contributed to the creation of some of the world's most “unlikely” states. Drawing on extensive archival sources on Brunei, Qatar and Bahrain, he sheds light on how some small colonial entities achieved independence despite their inclusion in a merger project promoted by the metropole and regional powers. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose new book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/5/202457 minutes, 44 seconds
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Thomas Sparr, "German Jerusalem: The Remarkable Life of a German-Jewish Neighbourhood in the Holy City" (Haus Publishers, 2021)

In the 1920s, before the establishment of the state of Israel, a group of German Jews settled in a garden city on the outskirts of Jerusalem. During World War II, their quiet community, nicknamed Grunewald on the Orient, emerged as both an immigrant safe haven and a lively expatriate hotspot, welcoming many famous residents including poet-playwright Else Lasker-Schüler, historian Gershom Scholem, and philosopher Martin Buber. It was an idyllic setting, if fraught with unique tensions on the fringes of the long-divided holy city. After the war, despite the weight of the Shoah, the neighborhood miraculously repaired shattered bonds between German and Israeli residents. In German Jerusalem: The Remarkable Life of a German-Jewish Neighbourhood in the Holy City (Haus Publishers, 2021), Thomas Sparr opens up the history of this remarkable community and the forgotten borderland they called home. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/4/202425 minutes, 59 seconds
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Vartan Matiossian, "The Politics of Naming the Armenian Genocide: Language, History and 'Medz Yeghern'" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

The Politics of Naming the Armenian Genocide: Language, History and 'Medz Yeghern' (Bloomsbury, 2021) explores the genealogy of the concept of 'Medz Yeghern' ('Great Crime'), the Armenian term for the mass murder and ethnic cleansing of the Armenian ethno-religious group in the Ottoman Empire between the years 1915-1923.  Widely accepted by historians as one of the classical cases of genocide in the 20th century, ascribing the right definition to the crime has been a source of contention and controversy in international politics. Vartan Matiossian here draws upon extensive research based on Armenian sources, neglected in much of the current historiography, as well as other European languages in order to trace the development of the concepts pertaining to mass killing and genocide of Armenians from the ancient to the modern periods. Beginning with an analysis of the term itself, he shows how the politics of its use evolved as Armenians struggled for international recognition of the crime after 1945, in the face of Turkish protest. Taking a combined historical, philological, literary and political perspective, the book is an insightful exploration of the politics of naming a catastrophic historical event, and the competitive nature of national collective memories. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/28/20241 hour, 12 minutes, 43 seconds
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Seyed Ali Alavi, "Iran and Palestine: Past, Present, and Future" (Routledge, 2019)

In Iran and Palestine: Past, Present and Future (Routledge, 2019), Seyed Ali Alavi (SOAS University of London) surveys the history of the relationship between Iran – and especially the Islamic Republic of Iran - with Palestinian organisations and leadership. It also, quite obviously, deals with Iranian views of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Analysing the connections of the Iranian revolutionary movements, both the Left and the Islamic camps’ perspectives are scrutinized. To provide a historical background to the post-revolutionary period, the genealogy of pro-Palestinian sentiments before 1979 are traced additionally. Demonstrating the pro-Palestinian stance of post-revolutionary Iran, the study focuses on the causes of roots of the ideological outlook and the interest of the state. Despite a growing body of literature on the Iranian Revolution and its impacts on the region, Iran’s connection with Palestine have been overlooked. This new volume fills the gap in the literature and enables readers to unpack the history of the two states. This unique and comprehensive coverage of Iran and Palestine’s relationship is a key resource for scholars and students interested in international relations, politics, Islamic and Middle East studies. Yaacov Yadgar is the Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is Sovereign Jews: Israel, Zionism and Judaism (SUNY Press, 2017). You can read more of Yadgar’s work here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/27/202424 minutes, 13 seconds
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Arjen F. Bakker, "The Secret of Time: Reconfiguring Wisdom in the Dead Sea Scrolls" (Brill, 2023)

Arjen F. Bakker's book The Secret of Time: Reconfiguring Wisdom in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Brill, 2023) contributes to the rethinking of the Dead Sea Scrolls as an essential and integral part of Judaism in the Greco-Roman period. The Qumran manuscripts attest to the reconfiguration of Jewish wisdom concepts in this period. Strikingly, reflection on time as the organizing principle behind all of reality is formative for these emerging concepts, which are expressed by the enigmatic phrase rāz nihyeh. The secret of time invites us to venture beyond existing categorizations and explore a rich conceptual framework that is manifested across a wide range of texts, beyond generic categories, and overcoming the sectarian divide. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/23/20241 hour, 8 minutes, 37 seconds
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Assaf Tamari, "God as Patient: The Medical Discourse of Lurianic Kabbalah" (Magnes Press, 2023)

In a broken world, in which even God Himself is in a state of deep crisis, what is required in order to mend the rupture? How can one heal God and His world? Moreover, what might allow our actions to be effective? These questions stand at the heart of the Lurianic Kabbalah, the apex of the Safedian intellectual and religious renaissance of the sixteenth century, and one of the constituting phenomena of Modern Jewish thought.  God as Patient: The Medical Discourse of Lurianic Kabbalah (Magnes Press, 2023) presents medical discourse – the knowledge, language, and practice of medicine – as a significant key to our understanding of the Lurianic search for a way to mend reality, and first and foremost the Godhead. The book reads together the Lurianic texts alongside the medical writings of R. Hayyim Vital, R. Isaac Luria's chief disciple, and a medical practitioner. Consequently, the book analyzes how medicine becomes the model for the Lurianic language of action. In its final part, the book shows how God becomes in this Kabbalah the ultimate patient of the Lurianic Kabbalist, who in turn becomes the private court physician of the King of Kings, and needs, like every physician, the proper modes of healing to accomplish his task. Dr. Assaf Tamari studies Jewish intellectual history in the early modern eastern Mediterranean, focusing on the affinities between theology, science and political thought, especially in the literature of the Kabbalah. He is currently the deputy head of the Ben Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East, and teaches at Tel Aviv University, Shalem College and Alma - a Home for Hebrew Culture. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/20/202440 minutes, 56 seconds
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Sari Nusseibeh, "Avicenna's Al-Shifā': Oriental Philosophy" (Routledge, 2018)

Sari Nusseibeh's book Avicenna's Al-Shifā': Oriental Philosophy (Routledge, 2018) deals with the philosophy of Ibn Sina - Avicenna as he was known in the Latin West- a Persian Muslim who lived in the eleventh century, considered one of the most important figures in the history of philosophy. Although much has been written about Avicenna, and especially about his major philosophical work, Al-Shifa, this book presents the rationalist Avicenna in an entirely new light, showing him to have presented a theory where our claims of knowledge about the world are in effect just that, claims, and must therefore be underwritten by our faith in God. His project enlists arguments in psychology as well as in language and logic. In a sense, the ceiling he puts on the reach of reason can be compared with later rationalists in the Western tradition, from Descartes to Kant -though, unlike Descartes, he does not deem it necessary to reconstruct his theory of knowledge via a proof of the existence of God. Indeed, Avicenna's theory presents the concept of God as being necessarily presupposed by our theory of knowledge, and God as the Necessary Being who is presupposed by an existing world where nothing of itself is what it is by an intrinsic nature, and must therefore be as it is due to an external cause. The detailed and original analysis of Avicenna's work here is presented as what he considered to be his own, or 'oriental' philosophy. Presenting an innovative interpretation of Avicenna's thought, this book will appeal to scholars working on classical Islamic philosophy, kalām and the History of Logic. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/16/20241 hour, 3 minutes, 3 seconds
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José Ciro Martínez, "States of Subsistence: The Politics of Bread in Contemporary Jordan" (Stanford UP, 2022)

In 1974 the government of Jordan established a new ministry to oversee a nationwide scheme to buy and distribute subsidized flour and regulate bakeries. The scheme sets terms for the politics that are the subject of a new book: States of Subsistence: The Politics of Bread in Contemporary Jordan (Stanford University Press, 2022). Rest assured, this is no dull account of state welfare that posits and tests for a two-dimensional relationship between the delivery of a staple food and public acquiescence to authoritarian rule. Far from it! To explain these politics, José Ciro Martínez goes to work baking, and taking the reader through kitchens, byways and marketplaces. Via descriptions of bakers and regulators, and interviews with consumers and policymakers, he offers a sophisticated account of how the state meets the stomach in Jordan, and how both citizens and bureaucracy are changed through this intra-action. States of Subsistence was the winner of the 2023 Roger Owen Book Award, sponsored by the Middle East Studies Association, and singled out for an honourable mention by the 2023 Charles Taylor Book Award committee of the American Political Science Association’s Interpretive Methodologies and Methods Group. If you like this episode of New Books in Interpretive Political and Social Science then you might also be interested in Mona El Ghobashy on Bread and Freedom: Egypt’s Revolutionary Situation, or Gerard McCarthy on Outsourcing the Polity: Non-state Welfare, Inequality and Resistance in Myanmar. José’s book recommendations are: Teo Ballvé, The Frontier Effect: State Formation and Violence in Colombia Lauren Berlant, On the Inconvenience of Other People Hisham Matar, My Friends Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/15/202453 minutes, 45 seconds
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Lisa Bhungalia, "Elastic Empire: Refashioning War Through Aid in Palestine" (Stanford UP, 2023)

The United States integrated counterterrorism mandates into its aid flows in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the early years of the global war on terror. Some two decades later, this securitized model of aid has become normalized across donor intervention in Palestine. Elastic Empire: Refashioning War Through Aid in Palestine (Stanford UP, 2023) traces how foreign aid, on which much of the Palestinian population is dependent, has multiplied the sites and means through which Palestinian life is regulated, surveilled, and policed—this book tells the story of how aid has also become war. Drawing on extensive research conducted in Palestine, Elastic Empire offers a novel accounting of the US security state. The US war chronicled here is not one of tanks, grenades, and guns, but a quieter one waged through the interlacing of aid and law. It emerges in the infrastructures of daily life—in a greenhouse and library, in the collection of personal information and mapping of land plots, in the halls of municipal councils and in local elections—and indelibly transfigures lives. Situated in a landscape where the lines between humanitarianism and the global war on terror are increasingly blurred, Elastic Empire reveals the shape-shifting nature of contemporary imperial formations, their realignments and reformulations, their haunted sites, and their obscured but intimate forms. Lisa Bhungalia is Assistant Professor of Geography at Kent State University. Her new position (as of fall 2024) will be Assistant Professor of Geography and International Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/15/202447 minutes, 26 seconds
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What does Biden’s temporary suspension of offensive arms transfers mean for US-Israeli relations?

Charles Blaha, a former State Department expert on the vetting of U.S. weapons transfers to other countries, helps us understand this important moment in the Israel-Hamas conflict. After an extended period of tension between U.S President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden has decided to freeze some transfers of weapons to Israel, at least temporarily. In his conversation with RBI director John Torpey, Blaha explains United States law and policy governing weapons transfers, which imposes stringent controls to avoid the misuse of U.S. weaponry. Blaha also discusses the role of the protests on campuses and their doubtful effects on changing American or Israeli policy. Finally, the conversation delves into the overall posture of the United States vis-à-vis arms transfers to Israel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/13/202430 minutes, 47 seconds
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Yasmine Ramadan, "Space in Modern Egyptian Fiction" (Edinburgh UP, 2021)

In 1960s Egypt, a group of writers exploded onto the literary scene, transforming the aesthetic landscape. Yasmine Ramadan’s Space in Modern Egyptian Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2021) explores how this literary generation presents a marked shift in the representation of rural, urban, and exilic space, reflecting a disappointment with the project of the postcolonial nation-state in Egypt. Combining a sociological approach to literature with detailed close readings, Yasmine Ramadan explores the spatial representations that embodied this shift within the Egyptian literary scene and the disappearance of an idealized nation in the Egyptian novel. Space in Modern Egyptian Fiction provides a robust examination of the emergence and establishment of some of the most significant writers in modern Egyptian literature and their influence across six decades while tracing the social, economic, political, and aesthetic changes that marked this period in Egypt's contemporary history. In this episode, Ibrahim Fawzy interviews Yasmine Ramadan about the representations of Cairo, Alexandria, Upper Egypt, Europe, and the Gulf in modern Egyptian fiction. Ibrahim Fawzy is a literary translator and academic based in Egypt. His interests include translation studies, Arabic literature, ecocriticism, and disability studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/12/202440 minutes, 50 seconds
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Görkem Akgöz, "In the Shadow of War and Empire: Industrialisation, Nation-Building, and Working-Class Politics in Turkey" (Brill, 2023)

In the Shadow of War and Empire: Industrialisation, Nation-Building, and Working-Class Politics in Turkey (Brill, 2023) offers a site-specific history of Ottoman and Turkish industrialization through the lens of a mid-nineteenth-century cotton factory in the “Turkish Manchester,” the name chosen by the Ottomans for the industrial complex they built in the 1840s in Istanbul, which, in the contemporary words of one of the country’s most prominent contemporary Marxist theorists, became “the secret to and the basis of Turkish capitalism" in the 1930s. This book is available open access here.  Görkem Akgöz is is a post-doc researcher at Humboldt University and a lecturer at Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg. Caleb Zakarin is editor at the New Books Network. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/12/20241 hour, 6 minutes, 44 seconds
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Hala Auji et al., "The Arab Nahda as Popular Entertainment: Mass Culture and Modernity in the Middle East" (I. B. Tauris, 2023)

What was popular entertainment like for everyday Arab societies in Middle Eastern cities during the long nineteenth century? In what ways did café culture, theatre, illustrated periodicals, cinema, cabarets, and festivals serve as key forms of popular entertainment for Arabic-speaking audiences, many of whom were uneducated and striving to contend with modernity's anxiety-inducing realities?  Studies on the 19th to mid-20th century's transformative cultural movement known as the Arab nahda (renaissance), have largely focused on concerns with nationalism, secularism, and language, often told from the perspective of privileged groups. Highlighting overlooked aspects of this movement, this book shifts the focus away from elite circles to quotidian audiences. Its ten contributions range in scope, from music and visual media to theatre and popular fiction. Paying special attention to networks of movement and exchange across Arab societies in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Morocco, The Arab Nahda as Popular Entertainment: Mass Culture and Modernity in the Middle East (I. B. Tauris, 2023) heeds the call for 'translocal/transnational' cultural histories, while contributing to timely global studies on gender, sexuality, and morality. Focusing on the often-marginalized frequenters of cafés, artist studios, cinemas, nightclubs, and the streets, it expands the remit of who participated in the nahda and how they did. Raphael Cormack is an assistant professor of Arabic at the Durham University. He was previously a visiting researcher at Columbia University in the City of New York and holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. His most recent publication was Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt’s Roaring 20s (2021). He has also edited two collections of Arabic short stories translated into English, The Book of Khartoum and The Book of Cairo. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/10/202441 minutes, 24 seconds
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David Tal, "The Making of an Alliance: The Origins and Development of the US-Israel Relationship" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Laying the foundation for an understanding of US-Israeli relations, this lively and accessible book provides critical background on the origins and development of the 'special' relations between Israel and the United States. Questioning the usual neo-realist approach to understanding this relationship, David Tal instead suggests that the relations between the two nations were constructed on idealism, political culture, and strategic ties. Based on a diverse range of primary sources collected in archives in both Israel and the United States, The Making of an Alliance: The Origins and Development of the US-Israel Relationship (Cambridge UP, 2022) discusses the development of relations built through constant contact between people and ideas, showing how presidents and Prime Ministers, state officials, and ordinary people from both countries, impacted one another. It was this constancy of religion, values, and history, serving the bedrock of the relations between the two countries and peoples, over which the ephemeral was negotiated. The author, David Tal, is Professor and Yossi Harel Chair in Modern Israel Studies in the Department of History at the University of Sussex. A historian of diplomatic and military history, he has published extensively on Israeli diplomatic and military history, and U.S. diplomatic history and disarmament policies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/8/202436 minutes, 16 seconds
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Sami Hermez with Sireen Sawalha, "My Brother, My Land: A Story from Palestine" (Redwood Press, 2024)

My Brother, My Land: A Story from Palestine (Redwood Press, 2024) is a riveting and unapologetic account of Palestinian resistance, the story of one family's care for their land, and a reflection on love and heartache while living under military occupation. In 1967, Sireen Sawalha's mother, with her young children, walked back to Palestine against the traffic of exile. My Brother, My Land is the story of Sireen's family in the decades that followed and their lives in the Palestinian village of Kufr Ra'i. From Sireen's early life growing up in the shadow of the '67 War and her family's work as farmers caring for their land, to the involvement of her brother Iyad in armed resistance in the First and Second Intifada, Sami Hermez, with Sireen Sawalha, crafts a rich story of intertwining voices, mixing genres of oral history, memoir, and creative nonfiction. Through the lives of the Sawalha family, and the story of Iyad's involvement with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hermez confronts readers with the politics and complexities of armed resistance and the ethical tensions and contradictions that arise, as well as with the dispossession and suffocation of people living under occupation and their ordinary lives in such times. Whether this story leaves readers discomforted, angry, or empowered, they will certainly emerge with a deeper understanding of the Palestinian predicament. Sami Hermez is an anthropologist and teaches at Northwestern University in Qatar. He is the author of War Is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon (2017). His work in and out of the classroom reflects a strong commitment to freedom, justice, and equality. His family's history of migration spans the Levant, with roots in Al-Qosh, Aleppo, Beirut, and Jerusalem. Sami lives in Doha with his family. SIREEN SAWALHA, born in the small village of Kufr Rai in Jenin, Palestine, comes from a family deeply connected to the region's rich history. She moved to the US in 1990 and completed her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Rider University. Recognized by Cornell University for her outstanding contributions to education in 2022, Sireen serves as a social studies teacher in New Jersey. Beyond academia, she is a passionate chef and compelling storyteller, sharing her family's experiences under occupation. Sireen raises awareness about Palestinian culture and actively contributes to the struggle for Palestinian freedom. My Brother, My Land is the story of her family. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/7/202449 minutes, 1 second
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Salar Mameni, "Terracene: A Crude Aesthetics" (Duke UP, 2023)

In Terracene: A Crude Aesthetics (Duke UP, 2023), Salar Mameni historicizes the popularization of the scientific notion of the Anthropocene alongside the emergence of the global war on terror. Mameni theorizes the Terracene as an epoch marked by a convergence of racialized militarism and environmental destruction. Both the Anthropocene and the war on terror centered the antagonist figures of the Anthropos and the terrorist as responsible for epochal changes in the new geological and geopolitical world orders. In response, Mameni shows how the Terracene requires radically new engagements with terra (the earth), whose intelligence resides in matters such as oil and phenomena like earthquakes and fires. Drawing on the work of artists whose practices interrogate histories of settler-colonial and imperial interests in land and resources in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Kuwait, Syria, Palestine, and other regions most affected by the war on terror, Mameni offers speculative paths into the aesthetics of the Terracene. Salar Mameni is an art historian specializing in contemporary transnational art and visual culture in the Arab/Muslim world with an interdisciplinary research on racial discourse, transnational gender politics, militarism, oil cultures and extractive economies in West Asia. Mameni has published articles in Signs, Women & Performance, Al-Raida Journal, Fuse Magazine, Fillip Review and Canadian Art Journal, and has written for exhibition catalogues in Dubai, Sharjah and Istanbul. Mameni was the curator of “Snail Fever,” at the Third Line Gallery in Dubai that explored art as a pandemic bringing together artists from the region whose works consider the embodied, viral and contaminating nature of sonic and visual aesthetics. Najwa Mayer is an interdisciplinary cultural scholar of race, gender, sexuality, and Islam in/and the United States, working at the intersections of politics, aesthetics, and critical theory. She is currently a Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Scholar at Boston University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/5/20241 hour, 6 minutes, 59 seconds
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Zahra Ayubi, "Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society" (Columbia UP, 2019)

How are notions of justice and equality constructed in Islamic virtue ethics (akhlaq)? How are Islamic virtue ethics gendered, despite their venture into perennial concerns of how best to live a good and ethical life? These are the questions that Zahra Ayubi, an assistant professor of religion at Dartmouth college, examines in her new book Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society (Columbia University Press, 2019). Using akhlaq literature by al-Ghazali, Davani and Tusi, Ayubi closely studies the ways in which these male Muslim scholars constructed ideas of the self (nafs), particularly in relation to the family and the society. Despite the ethicists’ differing sectarian and theological orientations in Islam, they still concluded that the status of a perfect ethical human was only achievable by a male elite. Meaning that the capacity to utilize rational faculty, which is central to self-refinement, was deemed not accessible to females, slaves, and non-elite males. In unpacking these gendered and hierarchical dynamics around ethics and comportment, Aybui masterfully applies feminist and gender analysis to deconstruct ethical texts. In light of her findings, she calls for a “philosophical turn” that must employ critical gender analysis when reading these texts not only in the context of Islamic philosophy, but broadly in the study of Islam. The book is a must read for scholars and students interested in Islamic philosophy and gender and Islamic studies. M. Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Queen’s University. Her research areas are on contemporary Sufism in North America and South Asia. She is the author of Sacred Spaces and Transnational Networks in American Sufism(Bloombsury Press, 2018) and a co-author of Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2017). More details about her research and scholarship may be found on here and here. She may be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/4/20241 hour, 5 minutes, 55 seconds
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Harry Pettit, "The Labor of Hope:: Meritocracy and Precarity in Egypt" (Stanford UP, 2023)

Capitalism is not only an economic system but also a system of production and allocation of hope. In Egypt, a generation of young men desire fulfilling employment, meaningful relationships, and secure family life, yet find few paths to achieve this.  In The Labor of Hope:: Meritocracy and Precarity in Egypt (Stanford UP, 2023), Harry Pettit follows these educated but underemployed men as they struggle to establish careers and build satisfying lives. In so doing, this book reveals the lived contradiction at the heart of capitalist systems - the expansive dreams they encourage and the precarious lives they produce. Pettit considers the various ways individuals cultivate distraction and hope for future mobility: education, migration, consumption, and prayer. These hope-filled practices are a form of emotional labor for young men, placing responsibility on the individual rather than structural issues in Egypt’s economy. Illuminating this emotional labor, Pettit shows how the capitalist economy continues to capture the attention of the very people harmed by it. Harry Pettit is Assistant Professor in Economic Geography at Radboud University Nijmegen. His research is on emotional politics and late capitalism. He has published articles on the emotional politics of precarious labour in Cairo in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Environment & Planning D: Society & Space, and Emotion, Space, and Society. Yadong Li is a PhD student in anthropology at Tulane University. His research interests lie at the intersection of the anthropology of state, the anthropology of time, hope studies, and post-structuralist philosophy. More details about his scholarship and research interests can be found here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/2/202456 minutes, 20 seconds
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Nadine A. Sinno, "A War of Colors: Graffiti and Street Art in Postwar Beirut" (U Texas Press, 2024)

Over the last two decades in Beirut, graffiti makers have engaged in a fierce “war of colors,” seeking to disrupt and transform the city’s physical and social spaces. In A War of Colors: Graffiti and Street Art in Postwar Beirut (University of Texas Press, 2024), Dr. Nadine Sinno examines how graffiti and street art have been used in postwar Beirut to comment on the rapidly changing social dynamics of the country and region. Analysing how graffiti makers can reclaim and transform cityscapes that were damaged or monopolised by militias during the war, Dr. Sinno explores graffiti’s other roles, including forging civic engagement, commemorating cultural icons, protesting political corruption and environmental violence, and animating resistance. In addition, she argues that graffiti making can offer voices to those who are often marginalised, especially women and LGBTQ people. Copiously illustrated with images of graffiti and street art, A War of Colors is a visually captivating and thought-provoking journey through Beirut, where local and global discourses intersect on both scarred and polished walls in the city. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose new book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/2/202435 minutes, 45 seconds
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Mohamed Shafeeq Karinkurayil, "The Gulf Migrant Archives in Kerala: Reading Borders and Belonging" (Oxford UP, 2024)

The Indian state of Kerala is one of the largest blocs of migrants in the oil economies of the Arab Gulf.  Looking closely at the cultural archives produced by and on the Gulf migrants in Malayalam -- the predominant language of Kerala -- The Gulf Migrant Archives in Kerala: Reading Borders and Belonging (Oxford UP, 2024) takes stock of circular migration beyond its economics. It combines formal and thematic analyses of photographs, films, and literature with anthropological and historical details to offer a nuanced understanding of the construction of the Gulf and its translation to the cultural imaginary of Kerala. It explores the dissonance between the private and public discourses on the Gulf among migrants and non-migrants, and demonstrates the role of this disjuncture in the continued fascination for Gulf migrant lives. An enquiry into the various dimensions of the Gulf in Kerala, as an acknowledged means of living, as a rumour, an object of gossip, a public secret, or even a private thrill, this book debunks the idea of language as a common entity and studies the tentative borders built within. Finally, it explores the resources, possibilities, and perils of affiliative communities constructed along and across those borders. Dr. Mohamed Shafeeq Karinkurayil is Associate Professor at Manipal Centre for Humanities, a constituent unit of Manipal Academy of Higher Education. His PhD was in Cultural Studies from the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India. He has numerous publications in academic and popular publications. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/1/202442 minutes, 37 seconds
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The Rhetoric of Crisis in Israel-Palestine: A Discussion with Amos Goldberg

This week, RBI Director John Torpey speaks with Amos Goldberg, Professor of Holocaust History at the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Among other rhetorical aspects of the conflict, Goldberg reflects on the meaning of such slogans as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” They also discuss the question whether Israel is committing genocide and what that means. Finally, the conversation addresses how the conflict might end, an especially appropriate question as the parties seem to be returning to the bargaining table in a serious way. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/1/202451 minutes, 57 seconds
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Maha AbdelMegeed, "Literary Optics: Staging the Collective in the Nahda" (Syracuse UP, 2024)

In Literary Optics: Staging the Collective in the Nahda (Syracuse UP, 2024), Maha AbdelMegeed offers a compelling and far-reaching alternative to the traditional mode of analyzing Arabic literature through an encounter between Arabic narrative forms and European ones. Drawing upon close engagements with the works of canonical authors from the period, including Hassan Husni al-Tuwayrani, Muhammad al-Muwaylihi, Ali Mubarak, Francis Marrash, and ‘Abdallah al-Nadim, AbdelMegeed addresses not where these works emanate from but rather how and why they were drawn together to form a canon. In doing so, she rejects the expectation that these texts, through the trope of encounter, hold the explanatory key to modern Arabic literature. In this reformulation of Arabic literary history, AbdelMegeed argues that the canon is forged through an urgency to define a new form of political sovereignty and to make history visible. In doing so, she explores three pivotal concepts: the spectral (khayal), the trace (athar) and the collective (alnās). By examining the texts through these concepts, Literary Optics provides a remarkable intellectual history that delves into the aesthetic, philosophical, and political stakes of nineteenth-century Arabic literature. Maha AbdelMegeed is assistant professor of modern Arabic literature at the American University of Beirut. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/28/202437 minutes, 18 seconds
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Tarek El-Ariss, "Water on Fire: A Memoir of War" (Other Press, 2024)

In this evocative, insightful memoir, a leading voice in Middle Eastern Studies revisits his childhood in war-torn Lebanon and his family’s fascinating history, coming to terms with trauma and desire. Water on Fire: A Memoir of War (Other Press, 2024) tells a story of immigration that starts in a Beirut devastated by the Lebanese Civil War (1975–90), continues with experiences of displacement in Europe and Africa, moves to northeastern American towns battered by lake-effect snow and economic woes, and ends in New York City on 9/11. A story of loss, but also of evolution, it models a kind of resilience inflected with humor, daring, and irreverence. Alternating between his perspective as a child and as an adult, Tarek El-Ariss explores how we live with trauma, poignantly illustrating the profound impact of war on our perception of the world, our fears and longings. His memoir is at once historical and universal, intellectual and introspective, the outcome of a long and painful process of excavation that reveals internal turmoil and the predicament of conflict and separation. A contemporary “interpretation of dreams” dealing with monsters, invisible creatures, skin outbreaks, and the sea, it is a book about objects and elements, like water and fire, and about how encountering these elements triggers associations, connecting present and past, time and space. Tarek El-Ariss is the James Wright Professor and Chair of Middle Eastern Studies at Dartmouth College and was a Guggenheim Fellow (2021–22). Trained in philosophy, comparative literature, and visual and cultural studies at the American University of Beirut, the University of Rochester, and Cornell University, he is the author of Trials of Arab Modernity: Literary Affects and the New Political and Leaks, Hacks, and Scandals: Arab Culture in the Digital Age, and editor of the MLA anthology The Arab Renaissance: A Bilingual Anthology of the Nahda. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/24/202442 minutes, 6 seconds
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Nora E. H. Parr, "Novel Palestine: Nation Through the Works of Ibrahim Nasrallah" (U California Press, 2023)

Palestinian writing imagines the nation, not as a nation-in-waiting but as a living, changing structure that joins people, place, and time into a distinct set of formations. Novel Palestine examines these imaginative structures so that we might move beyond the idea of an incomplete or fragmented reality and speak frankly about the nation that exists and the freedom it seeks. In Novel Palestine: Nation Through the Works of Ibrahim Nasrallah (U California Press, 2023), Nora E. H. Parr traces a vocabulary through which Palestine can be discussed as a changing and flexible national network linking people across and within space, time, and community. Through an exploration of the Palestinian literary scene subsequent to its canonical writers, Parr makes the life and work of Nasrallah available to an English-language audience for the first time, offering an intervention in geography while bringing literary theory into conversation with politics and history. A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press's Open Access publishing program, here. Nora E. H. Parr is a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and at the Center for Lebanese Studies. She coedits Middle Eastern Literatures. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/23/202436 minutes, 16 seconds
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Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky, "Empire of Refugees: North Caucasian Muslims and the Late Ottoman State" (Stanford UP, 2024)

Between the 1850s and World War I, about one million North Caucasian Muslims sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire. This resettlement of Muslim refugees from Russia changed the Ottoman state. Circassians, Chechens, Dagestanis, and others established hundreds of refugee villages throughout the Ottoman Balkans, Anatolia, and the Levant. Most villages still exist today, including what is now the city of Amman. Muslim refugee resettlement reinvigorated regional economies, but also intensified competition over land and, at times, precipitated sectarian tensions, setting in motion fundamental shifts in the borderlands of the Russian and Ottoman empires. Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky's Empire of Refugees: North Caucasian Muslims and the Late Ottoman State (Stanford University Press, 2024) tell this story. The book reframes late Ottoman history through mass displacement and reveals the origins of refugee resettlement in the modern Middle East. Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky offers a historiographical corrective: the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire created a refugee regime, predating refugee systems set up by the League of Nations and the United Nations. Grounded in archival research in over twenty public and private archives across ten countries, this book contests the boundaries typically assumed between forced and voluntary migration, and refugees and immigrants, rewriting the history of Muslim migration in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/23/20241 hour, 3 minutes, 56 seconds
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M. A. R. Habib and Bruce B. Lawrence, "The Qur'an: A Verse Translation" (Liveright, 2024)

In their landmark new translation of the Qur’an, The Qur’an: A Verse Translation (LIveright, 2024), M. A. R. Habib and Bruce B. Lawrence translate the entirety of the Qur’an in a fashion that beautifully and majestically captures the poetic sensibility of the Qur’an for contemporary English speakers and readers. The distinctive feature of this Qur’an translation is its close attentiveness to the literary possibilities opened by the versification of the text and to the oral and aural capacities of the Qur’an, punctuated by its rhythmic qualities. This book also includes a very helpful glossary and appendix, as well as a deeply erudite account of the translation theory and thought process that went into the composition of this Qur’an translation. This powerful, mellifluous, and often dazzling translation is sure to alternatively jolt and energize the reader; it will also work as a great Qur’an translation in courses on various topics concerning Islam and Muslim societies. SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize and was selected as a finalist for the 2021 American Academy of Religion Book Award. His second book is called Perilous Intimacies: Debating Hindu-Muslim Friendship after Empire (Columbia University Press, 2023). His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at [email protected]. Listener feedback is most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/23/20241 hour, 8 minutes, 32 seconds
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On the History and Evolution of Zionism

On today's episode of the New Books Network, we are privileged to have Professor Arie Dubnov joining us for an in-depth discussion on the multifaceted history and evolution of Zionism. Professor Dubnov is the Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies at George Washington University and a preeminent scholar on Zionist thought and nationalist movements. His acclaimed works include the intellectual biography Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012) and the edited volumes Zionism - A View from the Outside and Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism (Stanford UP, 2019). In this comprehensive interview, Professor Dubnov draws from his current research project examining the interwar ties between Zionist and British imperial thinkers. He provides a sweeping analysis tracing Zionism's diverse ideological currents and how they manifested from the movement's origins through the tumultuous events surrounding Israeli statehood in 1948 and into our present era. With his profound insights, Professor Dubnov illuminates the complex social, political and intellectual forces that shaped Zionism over decades, offering a nuanced perspective on this influential nationalist ideology's evolving place in regional and global contexts. This thought-provoking discussion promises a masterclass on the rich histories and ongoing reverberations of Zionisms. Roberto Mazza is currently a visiting lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/22/20241 hour, 32 minutes, 27 seconds
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Huda J. Fakhreddine, "The Arabic Prose Poem: Poetic Theory and Practice" (Edinburgh UP, 2021)

The Arabic Prose Poem: Poetic Theory and Practice (Edinburgh UP, 2021), by Huda Fakhreddine, examines one of the most controversial poetic forms in Arabic: the Arabic prose poem. When the modernist movement in Arabic poetry was launched in the 1940s, it threatened to blur the distinctions between poetry and everything else. The Arabic prose poem is probably the most subversive and extreme manifestation of this blurring, often described as an oxymoron, a non-genre, an anti-genre, a miracle and even a conspiracy. This ‘new genre’ is here explored as a poetic practice and as a critical lens which gave rise to a profound, contentious and continuing debate about the definition of an Arabic poem, its limits, and its relation to its readers. Huda Fakhreddine, Associate Professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, examines the history of the prose poem, its claims of autonomy and distance from its socio-political context, and the anxiety and scandal it generated. Miguel Monteiro is a PhD Student in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale University. [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/20/202450 minutes, 26 seconds
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Ahmed M. Abozaid, "Undesired Revolution: The Arab Uprising in Egypt--A Three Level Analysis" (Brill, 2023)

Ahmed M. Abozaid’s Undesired Revolution: The Arab Uprising in Egypt--A Three Level Analysis (Brill, 2023) introduces new non-Western perspectives on the Arab Uprisings, decentering and decolonizing International Relations, and Middle Eastern Studies. Drawing on over ten years of fieldwork, ethnography, over 250 interviews, and empirical research, it is one of the first books to evaluate the position of International Relations theorists towards studying the Arab Uprisings. It relies on local IR scholarship from the region, which is rarely considered. It provides a critical account of why democratic revolutions have failed, how counterrevolutions and authoritarianism have fortified, and why revolutions will once again experience a resurgence in this part of the world. Ibrahim Fawzy is a literary translator and academic based in Egypt. His interests include translation studies, Arabic literature, ecocriticism, and disability studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/20/20241 hour, 39 minutes, 10 seconds
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Ihsan Abdel Kouddous, "A Nose and Three Eyes" (Hoopoe, 2024)

Written by iconic Egyptian novelist Ihsan Abdel Kouddous, this classic of love, desire, and family breakdown smashed through taboos when first published in Arabic and continues to captivate audiences today It is 1950s Cairo and 16-year-old Amina is engaged to a much older man. Despite all the excitement of the wedding preparations, Amina is not looking forward to her nuptials. And it is not because of the age gap or because of the fact that she does not love, or even really know, her fiancé. No, it is because she is involved with another man. This other man is Dr Hashim Abdel-Latif, and while he is Amina’s first love, she is certainly not his. Also many years her senior, Hashim is well-known in polite circles for his adventures with women. A Nose and Three Eyes tells the story of Amina’s love affair with Hashim, and that of two other young women: Nagwa and Rahhab. A Nose and Three Eyes is a story of female desire and sexual awakening, of love and infatuation, and of exploitation and despair. It quietly critiques the strictures put upon women by conservative social norms and expectations, while a subtle undercurrent of political censure was carefully aimed at the then Nasser regime. As such, it was both deeply controversial and wildly popular when first published in the 1960s. Still a household name, this novel, and its author, have stood the test of time and remain relevant and highly readable today. Ihsan Abdel Kouddous (Author, 1919–1990) is one of the most prolific and popular writers of Arabic fiction of the twentieth century. Born in Cairo, Egypt, Abdel Kouddous graduated from law school in 1942 but left his law practice to pursue a long and successful career in journalism. He was an editor at the daily Al-Akhbar and the weekly Rose al-Yusuf, and was editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram. The author of dozens of books, his controversial writings and political views landed him in jail more than once. A Nose and Three Eyes is his second book to be translated into English, and his first was I Do Not Sleep. Hanan al-Shaykh (Foreword by) was born and raised in Beirut. She is the author of The Story of Zahra, Women of Sand and Myrrh, Beirut Blues, and Only in London, which was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. She lives in London. Jonathan Smolin (Translated by) is the Jane and Raphael Bernstein Professor in Asian Studies at Dartmouth College in the US. He is the translator of several works of Arabic fiction, including Whitefly by Abdelilah Hamdouchi, A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me by Youssef Fadel, and I Do Not Sleep and A Nose and Three Eyes by Ihsan Abdel Kouddous and the author of The Politics of Melodrama: The Cultural and Political Lives of Ihsan Abdel Kouddous and Gamal Abdel Nasser (forthcoming Stanford University Press). He lives in Hanover, NH. Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/14/202439 minutes, 3 seconds
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Jae Hee Han, "Prophets and Prophecy in the Late Antique Near East" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

In Prophets and Prophecy in the Late Antique Near East (Cambridge UP, 2023), Jae Han investigates how various Late Antique Near Eastern communities—Jews, Christians, Manichaeans, and philosophers—discussed prophets and revelation, among themselves and against each other. Bringing an interdisciplinary, historical approach to the topic, he interrogates how these communities used discourses of prophethood and revelation to negotiate their place in the world. Han tracks the shifting contours of prophecy and contextualizes the emergence of orality as the privileged medium among rabbis, Manichaeans, and 'Jewish Christian' communities. He also explores the contemporary interest in divinatory knowledge among Neoplatonists. Offering a critical re-reading of key Manichaean texts, Han shows how Manichaeans used concepts of prophethood and revelation within specific rhetorical agendas to address urgent issues facing their communities. His book highlights the contingent production of discourse and shows how contemporary theories of rhetoric and textuality can be applied to the study of ancient texts. Jae Han is Assistant Professor in Religious Studies and the program for Judaic Studies at Brown University Michael Motia is a lecturer in the Religious Studies and Classics Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/13/20241 hour, 13 minutes, 3 seconds
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Cristiana Strava, "Precarious Modernities: Assembling State, Space and Society on the Urban Margins in Morocco" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

What does living “precariously” mean in Casablanca? In 2014 it meant being labeled tcharmil (seeming to endanger public order) and swept up by the police, if you were an unemployed young man sporting a banda haircut and gathering with your mates on a street corner. Cristiana Strava witnessed this and other neglected aspects of urban vulnerability while conducting extensive fieldwork in Hay Mohammedi, a renowned working-class neighborhood on the margins of modern Morocco’s economic mecca, Casablanca.  In Precarious Modernities: Assembling State, Space and Society on the Urban Margins in Morocco (Bloomsbury, 2021), Strava shares what she learned about how its residents create a sense of place and belonging, despite the manifold insecurities of living in a quarter that is losing both industries and social services. Focusing on the everyday lives and spaces of a mythicized community, and its interaction with heritage activists, international development agendas and technocratic planning regimes, Precarious Modernities documents how the depoliticization of the urban margins aids the consolidation of deeply unequal social, spatial, and economic orders. Cristiana Strava is University Lecturer at Leiden University. Her research focuses on urban spaces, economic inequality, and the politics of planning and development regimes. She has experience living and carrying out research in North and West Africa. From 2020-2025, she serves as a member of the Young Academy Leiden. Yadong Li is a PhD student in anthropology at Tulane University. His research interests lie at the intersection of the anthropology of state, the anthropology of time, hope studies, and post-structuralist philosophy. More details about his scholarship and research interests can be found here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/12/20241 hour, 29 minutes, 18 seconds
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Robert D. Kaplan, "The Loom of Time: Between Empire and Anarchy, from the Mediterranean to China" (Random House, 2023)

The Middle East remains one of the world’s most complicated, thorny—and, uncharitably, unstable—parts of the world, as countless headlines make clear. Internal strife, regional competition and external interventions have been the region’s history for the past several decades. Robert Kaplan—author, foreign policy thinker, longtime writer on international affairs—has written about what he terms the “Greater Middle East”, a region that spans from the Mediterranean, south to Ethiopia and eastwards to Afghanistan and Pakistan, for decades. These insights are the foundation of his latest book: The Loom of Time: Between Empire and Anarchy, from the Mediterranean to China (Random House, 2023) In his book, Kaplan criticizes how the U.S. has approached the region—intervention and regime change (including his own mea culpa for his previous support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, only for Washington to look somewhere else when newly-formed regimes inevitably disappoint. In this interview, Robert and I talk about his idea of the “Greater Middle East,” some of the experiences that most stood out to him, and his conclusions on how to think about democracy, order, and anarchy in this part of the world. Robert D. Kaplan is the bestselling author of twenty books on foreign affairs and travel, including Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age (Random House: 2022), The Good American: The Epic Life of Bob Gersony, the U.S. Government's Greatest Humanitarian (Random House: 2021), The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate (Random House: 2012), Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific (Random House: 2014), Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power (Random House: 2010), The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War (Random House: 2000), and Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History (St. Martins Press: 1993). He holds the Robert Strausz-Hupé Chair in Geopolitics at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. For three decades he reported on foreign affairs for The Atlantic. He was a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board and the U.S. Navy’s Executive Panel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/11/202430 minutes, 2 seconds
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Catholic in Palestine (with Fr Firas Abedrabbo)

There have been Christians in the Holy Land for two thousand years; “we are the first church,” says Father Firas Abedrabbo who is from Bethlehem and works in Ramallah. He studied law in France and speaks excellent English and spoke with me about his experience as a priest in Palestine (the West Bank) during the Gaza War. We talk politics and history, but we also talk about how people in the middle of a war can see God’s love and His participation in our daily lives, even (or perhaps especially) in our darkest hours. I am grateful for Josh Del Colle of South Dakota for this episode suggestion and for arranging the introduction. Website of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem Father Firas’s webpage. Almost Good Catholics episodes with Father Piotr Żelazko in Jerusalem: [Part 1] Fr. Piotr Żelazko on Almost Good Catholics, episode 71: Live from Israel: Catholics in the Holy Land Today [Part 2] Fr. Piotr Żelazko on Almost Good Catholics, episode 73, starting at 55 minutes after my interview with Jay Richards: Darwinian Accident or Divine Architect? The Debate between Natural Selection and Intelligence Design [Part 3] Fr. Piotr Żelazko on Almost Good Catholics, episode 79, The Ground is Crying out to God: Live from Jerusalem Part 3 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/11/202444 minutes, 3 seconds
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Emily Drumsta, "Ways of Seeking: The Arabic Novel and the Poetics of Investigation" (U California Press, 2024)

In Ways of Seeking: The Arabic Novel and the Poetics of Investigation (U California Press, 2024), Emily Drumsta traces the influence of detective fiction on the twentieth-century Arabic novel. Theorizing a “poetics of investigation,” she shows how these novels, far from staging awe-inspiring feats of logical deduction, mock the truth-seeking practices on which modern exercises of colonial and national power are often premised. Their narratives return to the archives of Arabic folklore, Islamic piety, and mysticism to explore less coercive ways of knowing, seeing, and seeking. Drumsta argues that scholars of the Middle East neglect the literary at their peril, overlooking key critiques of colonialism from the intellectuals who shaped and responded through fiction to the transformations of modernity. This book ultimately tells a different story about the novel’s place in the constellation of Arab modernism, modeling an innovative method of open-ended inquiry based on the literary texts themselves. Emily Drumsta is Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. She is editor and translator of Revolt Against the Sun: Selected Poetry of Nazik al-Malaʼika Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/9/202442 minutes, 57 seconds
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Eric Calderwood, "On Earth Or in Poems: The Many Lives of Al-Andalus" (Harvard UP, 2023)

During the Middle Ages, the Iberian Peninsula was home not to Spain and Portugal but rather to al-Andalus. Ruled by a succession of Islamic dynasties, al-Andalus came to be a shorthand for a legendary place where people from the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe; Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together in peace. That reputation is not entirely deserved, yet, as On Earth Or in Poems: The Many Lives of Al-Andalus (Harvard UP, 2023) shows, it has had an enduring hold on the imagination, especially for Arab and Muslim artists and thinkers in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. From the vast and complex story behind the name al-Andalus, Syrians and North Africans draw their own connections to history’s ruling dynasties. Palestinians can imagine themselves as “Moriscos,” descended from Spanish Muslims forced to hide their identities. A Palestinian flamenco musician in Chicago, no less than a Saudi women’s rights activist, can take inspiration from al-Andalus. These diverse relationships to the same past may be imagined, but the present-day communities and future visions those relationships foster are real. Where do these notions of al-Andalus come from? How do they translate into aspiration and action? Eric Calderwood traces the role of al-Andalus in music and in debates about Arab and Berber identities, Arab and Muslim feminisms, the politics of Palestine and Israel, and immigration and multiculturalism in Europe. The Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish once asked, “Was al-Andalus / Here or there? On earth … or in poems?” The artists and activists showcased in this book answer: it was there, it is here, and it will be. Eric Calderwood is Associate Professor of Comparative and World Literature at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the author of the award-winning Colonial al-Andalus. He is a contributor to NPR, the BBC, and Foreign Policy. Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/8/202440 minutes, 20 seconds
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Sumita Pahwa, "Politics as Worship: Righteous Activism and the Egyptian Muslim Brothers" (Syracuse UP, 2023)

Despite expectations that the deeply held political and religious organizing principles at the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood would prove incompatible and contentious should the organization ever come to power, the Brotherhood succeeded in maintaining a united identity following the 2011 ousting of Hosni Mubarak and the election of a Brotherhood-majority government.  To understand how the movement threaded these disparate missions, Politics as Worship: Righteous Activism and the Egyptian Muslim Brothers (Syracuse UP, 2023) examines the movement's internal debates on preaching, activism, and social reform from the 1980s through the 2000s. In doing so, Sumita Pahwa finds that the framing of political work as ethical conduct has been critical to the organization's functioning. Through a comprehensive analysis of texts, speeches, public communications, interviews, and internal training documents, Pahwa shows how Islamic and religious ideals have been folded into the political discourse of the Brotherhood, enabling the leadership to shift the boundaries of justifiable and righteous action. Over a period of three decades, the movement has built an influential Islamic political project and carved a unified identity around how to "work for God." Sumita Pahwa is an Associate Professor of Politics at Scripps College in Claremont CA, where she also teaches in the Middle East and North Africa Studies program. She grew up in India, and received her PhD from the Johns Hopkins University and a BA from Middlebury College. Her research focuses on religion and politics and social movements in South Asia and the Middle East, with older research on Egypt and Morocco, and newer research on civil society in India. Cooking and gardening are her main hobbies, and she has done informal comparative research on mango varieties in Egypt and India. Lamis Abdelaaty is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She is the author of Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2021). Email her comments at [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/8/202457 minutes
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Annika Schmeding, "Sufi Civilities: Religious Authority and Political Change in Afghanistan" (Stanford UP, 2023)

Annika Schmeding’s new book Sufi Civilities: Religious Authority and Political Change in Afghanistan (Stanford UP, 2023) is a deeply sensitive and rich study of a variety of facets of Sufism in contemporary Afghanistan. Focused on the intersection and interaction of Sufism and Afghan civil society, this book simultaneously offers a layered and often moving account of Sufism in Afghanistan, while also presenting an excellent critique of Western NGO driven understandings of civility and civil society. The book also engages a number of themes connected to Sufism in Afghanistan including Sufism and the state, gender and Sufism, Sufis and the ‘ulama’, and Sufi religious authority through the oneiric imagination. This wonderfully written book will also be a pleasure to teach in the classroom. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/7/202459 minutes, 30 seconds
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Esra Mirze Santesso, "Muslim Comics and Warscape Witnessing" (Ohio State UP, 2023)

Recent decades have seen an unprecedented number of comics by and about Muslim people enter the global market. Now, Muslim Comics and Warscape Witnessing (Ohio State UP, 2023) offers the first major study of these works. Esra Mirze Santesso assesses Muslim comics to illustrate the multifaceted nature of seeing and representing daily lives within and outside of the homeland. Focusing on contemporary graphic narratives that are primarily but not exclusively from the Middle East--from blockbusters like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis to more local efforts such as Leila Abdelrazaq's Baddawi--Santesso explores why the graphic form has become a popular and useful medium for articulating Muslim subjectivities. Further, she shows how Muslim comics "bear witness" to a range of faith-based positions that complicate discussions of global ummah or community, contest monolithic depictions of Muslims, and question the Islamist valorization of the shaheed, the "martyr" figure regarded as the ideal religious witness. By presenting varied depictions of everyday lives of Muslims navigating violence and militarization, this book reveals the connections between religious rituals and existence in warscapes and invites us to more deeply consider the nature of witnessing itself. Dr. Esra Santesso received her B.A. from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey, and her PhD from the University of Nevada. She is currently Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Georgia. She specializes in postcolonial theory and literature with an emphasis on Muslim identity, diasporic and immigrant experiences, and human rights narratives. Her first book, Disorientation: Muslim Identity in Contemporary Anglophone Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) investigates the extent to which the questions and theories of postcolonial identity can be applied to Muslim subjects living in the West. She is the co-editor of Islam and Postcolonial Literature (Routledge, 2017), which offers a collection of essays on religion’s role in self-representation explored via film, theater, poetry, visual arts, performance pieces. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/7/202440 minutes, 5 seconds
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Loren D. Lybarger, "Palestinian Chicago: Identity in Exile" (U California Press, 2020)

Chicago is home to one of the largest, most politically active Palestinian immigrant communities in the United States. For decades, secular nationalism held sway as the dominant political ideology, but since the 1990s its structures have weakened and Islamic institutions have gained strength.  Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interview data, Loren D. Lybarger's book Palestinian Chicago: Identity in Exile (U California Press, 2020) charts the origins of these changes and the multiple effects they have had on identity across religious, political, class, gender, and generational lines. The perspectives that emerge through this rich ethnography challenge prevailing understandings of secularity and religion, offering critical insight into current debates about immigration and national belonging. Roberto Mazza is currently a visiting lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/3/20241 hour, 21 minutes, 52 seconds
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Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, "Merits of the Plague" (Penguin, 2023)

Six hundred years ago, the author of this landmark work of history and religious thought—an esteemed judge, poet, and scholar in Cairo—survived the bubonic plague, which took the lives of three of his children, not to mention tens of millions of others throughout the medieval world. Holding up an eerie mirror to our own time, he reflects on the origins of plagues—from those of the Prophet Muhammad’s era to the Black Death of his own—and what it means that such catastrophes could have been willed by God, while also chronicling the fear, isolation, scapegoating, economic tumult, political failures, and crises of faith that he lived through. But in considering the meaning of suffering and mass death, he also offers a message of radical hope. Weaving together accounts of evil jinn, religious stories, medical manuals, death-count registers, poetry, and the author’s personal anecdotes, Merits of the Plague (Penguin, 2023), translated by Joel Blecher and Mairaj Syed, is a profound reminder that with tragedy comes one of the noblest expressions of our humanity: the practice of compassion, patience, and care for those around us. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (1372 - 1449) was an Islamic poet, scholar and judge. Born in modern day Egypt, in his lifetime al-Asqalani authored some 150 works of history, poetry and biography, as well as many influential treatises on Islamic jurisprudence. Joel Blecher is Associate Professor of History at the George Washington University in Washington Mairaj Syed is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and the director of Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program at UC Davis.  Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/2/20241 hour, 9 minutes, 11 seconds
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Alessandro Columbu, "Zakariyya Tamir and the Politics of the Syrian Short Story: Modernity, Authoritarianism and Gender" (I. B. Tauris, 2023)

Zakariyya Tamir is Syria’s foremost writer of short stories, and his works are widely read across the Arab world. In Zakariyya Tamir and the Politics of the Syrian Short Story: Modernity, Authoritarianism, and Gender (I. B. Tauris, 2023), the first English-language monograph on Tamir’s entire oeuvre, Alessandro Columbu examines Tamir’s literary development in the context of changing political contexts, from his beginnings as a short story writer for local magazines in the late 1950s until the Syrian revolution of 2011. Thus, the movements from independence and Western-inspired modernisation to the rise of nationalism and socialism; war, defeat, and occupation in the 1960s; the emergence of authoritarianism, and the cult of personality of Hafiz al-Assad in the 1970s are charted in the context of Tamir’s works. Therein, the significance of masculinity and patriarchy and its changing nature in relation to nationalism and authoritarianism are revealed as Tamir’s foremost vehicles for social and political critique. The role of female sexuality and its disrupting/empowering nature vis-à-vis patriarchal institutions is also explored, as is the question of literary commitment and the relationship between authors and the authoritarian regime of Syria, homosexuality, and representations of unconventional sexualities in general. Ibrahim Fawzy is a literary translator and academic based in Egypt. His interests include translation studies, Arabic literature, ecocriticism, and disability studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/29/202455 minutes, 47 seconds
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Sanjay Subrahmanyam, "Across the Green Sea: Histories from the Western Indian Ocean, 1440-1640" (U Texas Press, 2024)

Across the Green Sea: Histories from the Western Indian Ocean, 1440-1640 (University of Texas Press, 2024) by Dr. Sanjay Subrahmanyam presents a history of two centuries of interactions among the areas bordering the western Indian Ocean, including India, Iran, and Africa. Beginning in the mid-fifteenth century, the regions bordering the western Indian Ocean—“the green sea,” as it was known to Arabic speakers—had increasing contact through commerce, including a slave trade, and underwent cultural exchange and transformation. Using a variety of texts and documents in multiple Asian and European languages, Across the Green Sea looks at the history of the ocean from a variety of shifting viewpoints: western India; the Red Sea and Mecca; the Persian Gulf; East Africa; and Kerala. Dr. Subrahmanyam sets the scene for this region starting with the withdrawal of China's Ming Dynasty and explores how the western Indian Ocean was transformed by the growth and increasing prominence of the Ottoman Empire and the continued spread of Islam into East Africa. He examines how several cities, including Mecca and the vital Indian port of Surat, grew and changed during these centuries, when various powers interacted until famines and other disturbances upended the region in the seventeenth century. Rather than proposing an artificial model of a dominant center and its dominated peripheries, Across the Green Sea demonstrates the complexity of a truly dynamic and polycentric system through the use of connected histories, a method pioneered by Dr. Subrahmanyam himself. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/26/202444 minutes, 31 seconds
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Anita R. Gohdes, "Repression in the Digital Age: Surveillance, Censorship, and the Dynamics of State Violence" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Global adoption of the Internet has exploded, yet we are only beginning to understand the Internet's profound political consequences. Authoritarian states are digitally catching up with their democratic counterparts, and both are showing a growing interest in the use of cyber controls--online censorship and surveillance technologies--that allow governments to exercise control over the Internet. Under what conditions does a digitally connected society actually help states target their enemies? Why do repressive governments sometimes shut down the Internet when faced with uprisings? And how have cyber controls become a dependable tool in the weapons arsenal that states use in civil conflict? In Repression in the Digital Age: Surveillance, Censorship, and the Dynamics of State Violence (Oxford University Press, 2023), Dr. Anita R. Gohdes addresses these questions, and provides an original and in-depth look into the relationship between digital technologies and state violence. Drawing on large-scale analyses of fine-grained data on the Syrian conflict, qualitative case evidence from Iran, and the first global comparative analysis on Internet outages and state repression, Dr. Gohdes makes the case that digital infrastructure supports security forces in their use of violent state repression. More specifically, she argues that mass access to the Internet presents governments who fear for their political survival with a set of response options. When faced with a political threat, they can either temporarily restrict or block online public access or they can expand mass access to online information and monitor it to their own advantage. Surveillance allows security forces to target opponents of the state more selectively, while extreme forms of censorship or shutdowns of the Internet occur in conjunction with larger and more indiscriminate repression. As digital communication has become a bedrock of modern opposition and protest movements, Repression in the Digital Age breaks new ground in examining state repression in the information age. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/26/202434 minutes, 50 seconds
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Rana AlMutawa, "Everyday Life in the Spectacular City: Making Home in Dubai" (U California Press, 2024)

Everyday Life in the Spectacular City is a groundbreaking urban ethnography that reveals how middle-class citizens and longtime residents of Dubai interact with the city's so-called superficial spaces to create meaningful social lives. Rana AlMutawa shows that inhabitants adapt themselves to top-down development projects, from big malls to megaprojects. These structures serve residents' evolving social needs, transforming Dubai's spectacular spaces into personally important cultural sites. These practices are significant because they expand our understanding of agency as not only subversive but also adaptive. Through extensive fieldwork, AlMutawa, herself an Emirati native to Dubai, finds a more nuanced story of belonging. This story does not seek to uncover the "real" city that lies beneath the veneer of the spectacle, but rather to demonstrate that social meanings and forms of belonging take place within the spectacle itself. By offering an alternative to the discourse of authenticity and elucidating the dynamics of ambivalent belonging, AlMutawa belies stereotypes that portray Dubai's developments as alienating and inherently disempowering. Everyday Life in the Spectacular City speaks beyond the Middle East to a globalized phenomenon, for Dubai's spectacles are unexceptional in today's changing world. Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is a Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. He is the author of The Social Construction of a Cultural Spectacle: Floatzilla (Lexington Books, 2023) and Community Media Representations of Place and Identity at Tug Fest: Reconstructing the Mississippi River (Lexington Books, 2022). His general area of study is about the construction of identity and place. He is currently conducting research for his next project that looks at nightlife and the emotional labor that is performed by bouncers at bars and nightclubs. To learn more about Michael O. Johnston you can go to his website, Google Scholar, Twitter @ProfessorJohnst, or by email at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/26/202438 minutes, 59 seconds
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Laura Menin, "Quest for Love in Central Morocco: Young Women and the Dynamics of Intimate Lives" (Syracuse UP, 2024)

Following the 2011 wave of revolutions and protests in North Africa and the Middle East, new discussions of individual freedoms emerged in the Moroccan public sphere and human rights discourse. A segment of the public rallied around the removal of an article in the penal code that punished sexual relationships outside of marriage. As debates about personal and sexual freedom gain momentum, love and intimacy remain complex issues.  Moving between public, clandestine, and online interactions, Quest for Love in Central Morocco: Young Women and the Dynamics of Intimate Lives (Syracuse University Press, 2024) explores the creative ways young women navigate desire and morality. Laura Menin's ethnography focuses on young women living in the low-income and lower-middle-class neighbourhoods of a midsized town in Central Morocco, far from the overt influence of city life. At the heart of the book, Menin draws upon ideas of "love" as an ethnographic object and source of theoretical examination. She demonstrates that love, as a complex cultural and historical phenomenon shaped through intersecting socioeconomic and political developments, is crucial in thinking through generational changes and debates in Morocco and the Middle East more broadly. What is at stake in the quest for love, she argues, is not only the making of gendered selves and intimate relationships, but also the imagination of social and political life. Rituparna Patgiri has a PhD in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her research interests lie in the areas of food, media, gender and public. She is also one of the co-founders of Doing Sociology. Patgiri can be reached at @Rituparna37 on Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/23/202433 minutes, 50 seconds
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Eileen Kane et al., "Russian-Arab Worlds: A Documentary History" (Oxford UP, 2023)

The roots of the Arab world’s current Russian entanglements reach deep into the tsarist and Soviet periods. To explore those entanglements, Russian-Arab Worlds: A Documentary History (Oxford UP, 2023) presents and contextualizes a set of primary sources translated from Russian, Arabic, Armenian, Persian, French, and/or Tatar: a 1772 Russian naval officer’s diary, an Arabic slave sale deed from the Caucasus, an interview with a Russian-educated contemporary Syrian novelist, and many more. These archival, autobiographical, and literary sources, introduced by specialists and in some cases by pairs of scholars with complementary language expertise, highlight connections long obscured by disciplinary cleavages between Slavic and Middle East studies. Taken together, the thirty-four chapters of this book show how various Russian/Soviet and Arab governments sought to nurture political and cultural ties and expand their influence, often with unplanned results. They reveal the transnational networks of trade, pilgrimage, study, ethnic identity, and political affinity that state policies sometimes fostered and sometimes disrupted. Above all, they give voice to some of the resourceful characters who have embodied and exploited Arab-Russian contacts: missionaries and diplomats, soldiers and refugees, students and party activists, scholars and spies. A set of new maps helps orient readers amid the expansion and collapse of empires, border changes, population transfers, and creation of new nation-states that occurred during the two centuries these sources cover. Eileen Kane teaches modern European history at Connecticut College, where she also directs the Program in Global Islamic Studies. A historian of imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, she is the author of Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca. She is the 2017 recipient of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship and is currently writing a history of Jewish and Muslim migrations from Russia to the Middle East. Masha Kirasirova is assistant professor of history at New York University Abu Dhabi. She is a historian of exchanges between the Soviet Eurasia and the Middle East. She is finishing a book called The Eastern International: Culture, Power, and Politics in Soviet-Arab Relations. Her articles have appeared in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Ab Imperio, Iranian Studies, and Mediterranean Politics. Margaret Litvin is associate professor of Arabic and comparative literature at Boston University. A historian of modern Arabic literature and its global ties, she is the author of Hamlet’s Arab Journey: Shakespeare’s Prince and Nasser’s Ghost and the translator of Sonallah Ibrahim’s Arabic novel Ice, set in 1973 Moscow. Her current book project, Another East: Arab Writers, Moscow Dreams, reconstructs some literary legacies of Arab-Russian and Arab-Soviet cultural ties during the long 20th century. She also writes about Arabic theatre for global audiences. Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/20/202448 minutes, 36 seconds
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Jörg Matthias Determann and Shoaib Ahmed Malik, "Islamic Theology and Extraterrestrial Life: New Frontiers in Science and Religion" (I. B. Tauris, 2024)

Over the last thirty years, humanity has discovered thousands of planets outside of our solar system. The discovery of extraterrestrial life could be imminent. This book explains how such a discovery might impact Islamic theology. It is the foundational reference on the subject, comprising a variety of different insights from both Sunni and Shi'i positions, from different Muslim contexts, and with chapters that compare and contrast Islamic perspectives with Christianity. Together, they address some of our biggest questions through an Islamic lens: What makes humans unique in the cosmos? What are the ethics of dealing with other sentient beings? And how universal is salvation? Given the accelerating advances in exoplanet research and astrobiology, Islamic Theology and Extraterrestrial Life: New Frontiers in Science and Religion (I. B. Tauris, 2024) is at the frontier of science and Islamic thought. Contributors include a range of leading experts from Muslim theologians, scholars of comparative religion and philosophers, to historians, social scientists and natural scientists. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/19/20241 hour, 7 minutes, 46 seconds
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Yaacov Nir, "Establishment and History of the Cyprus Detention Camps for Jewish Refugees (1946-1949)" (Cambridge Scholars, 2024)

Yaacov Nir's Establishment and History of the Cyprus Detention Camps for Jewish Refugees (1946-1949) (Cambridge Scholars, 2024) explores the nature of the severe conflict over immigration to Palestine during the post-Second World War period, and the British policy of deportation to Detention Camps in Cyprus (1946-1949). It considers the perspective of actors such as the British Foreign Office, dominated by stubborn Ernest Bevin, and the Colonial Office, the Palestinian Jewish community and its underground Haganah and Palmach forces, the Palestinian Arabs, and the Colonial Cyprus authorities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/19/20241 hour, 4 minutes, 13 seconds
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Stephanie Chasin, "British Jews and Imperial Service: Nationalism, Pan-Islamism and Zionism in Mandate Palestine and Colonial India" (I. B. Tauris, 2023)

In the wake of the devastating WWI, three Jews headed the most valuable territory in the British Empire in addition to a strategically important new addition. Edwin Montagu held the position of Secretary of State for India, Rufus Isaacs (Lord Reading) was the newly appointed Viceroy of India, and Herbert Samuel arrived in Jerusalem as the first High Commissioner of Palestine. Their appointments came at a time of great upheaval as Indian nationalists clamoured for independence, pan-Islamists fought to keep the defeated Ottoman Empire intact and the sultan in Constantinople, and Zionists sought to build on the wartime promise by the British government to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine in face of opposition by Palestinians and pan-Islamists. The task of tackling these issues was made all the more difficult by accusations that Jews were not loyal to the British Empire and its goals, a view promoted by the appearance of the antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion in English translation. British Jews and Imperial Service: Nationalism, Pan-Islamism and Zionism in Mandate Palestine and Colonial India (Bloomsbuy, 2023) by Dr. Stephanie Chasin follows this web of divisive imperial politics, and nationalist and pan-Islamist aspirations in India and Palestine, through the lives and work of these three men whose efforts were coloured by the post-war fear of a declining empire that was being corroded from within. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/17/20241 hour, 11 minutes, 4 seconds
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Julie Kalman, "The Kings of Algiers: How Two Jewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World During the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond" (Princeton UP, 2023)

On July 27th, 1827, the dey of Algiers struck the French consul over his country’s refusal to pay back its debts–specifically, to two Jewish merchant families: the Bacris, and the Busnachs. It was an error of judgment: France blockaded Algiers, and later invaded, turning Algeria into a French colony. The unpaid debt has festered as a diplomatic issue for almost 30 years. Foreign consuls in the corsairing capital of Algiers sent missives back to their superiors complaining about the Bacris and Busnachs and the doggedness they had in pursuing their debts. Julie Kalman writes about these two families–and their inter-familial business dealing and squabbles–in The Kings of Algiers: How Two Jewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World during the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond (Princeton University Press, 2023). In this interview, Julie and I talk about the Bacris and the Busnachs, the strange relationships between Algiers, Britain, France and the U.S., and what “sanctions” and “debt diplomacy” looked like in the early nineteeth century. Julie Kalman is Associate Professor of history at Monash University. She has published widely on the history of French Jewry in the nineteenth century, and in the post-war period. She is also the author of Orientalizing the Jew: Religion, Culture and Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century France (Indiana University Press: 2017), and Rethinking Antisemitism in Nineteenth-Century France (Cambridge University Press: 2010). You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of The Kings of Algiers. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is an editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at@nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/14/202448 minutes, 6 seconds
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Photography and Making Bedouin Histories in the Naqab, 1906-2013:: An Anthropological Approach

In Photography and Making Bedouin Histories in the Naqab, 1906-2013:: An Anthropological Approach (Routledge, 2023), Emilie Le Febvre takes us to the Naqab Desert where Bedouin use photographs to make, and respond to, their own histories. She argues Bedouin presentations of the past are selective, but increasingly reliant on archival documents such as photographs, which spokespersons treat as evidence of their local histories amid escalating tensions in Israel-Palestine. These practices shape Bedouin visual historicity; the diverse ways people produce their pasts in the present through images.  The book charts these processes through the afterlives of six photographs as they circulate between the Naqab’s entangled visual economies – a transregional landscape organized by cultural ideals of proximity and assemblages of Bedouin iconography. She illustrates how representational contentions associated with tribal, civic, and Palestinian-Israeli politics influence how images do history work in this society. Here, Bedouin value photographs not because they evidence singular narratives of the past; rather, the knowledges inscribed by photography are manifold as they support diverse constructions of Naqab Bedouin history and society. In this episode, Emilie joins me to discuss the ethics of photographs of the Naqab Bedouin as a historical source; the nuances of gender norms around photographing Bedouin women; and how social media and modern technology have changed how photographs are used and understood. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/12/202449 minutes, 33 seconds
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Sofia Rehman, "Gendering the Hadith Tradition: Recentering the Authority of Aisha, Mother of the Believers" (Oxford UP, 2024)

Gendering the Hadith Tradition: Recentering the Authority of Aisha, Mother of the Believers (Oxford UP, 2024) presents for the first time a partial translation and study of Imam Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi's work, al-Ijaba li-Iradi ma Istadraktahu Aisha Ala al-Sahabah-"The Corrective: Aisha's Rectification of the Companions. "It critically analyses from the perspective of hadith criticism a number of sections presenting Aisha's refutations and corrections of key Companions including, Umar b. al-Khattab, Abdullah b. Abbas, Zayd b. Thabit, and Abu Hurayra, applying classical hadith methodology to the scrutiny of narrators by way of impugnment and validation (al-jarh wa al-tadil) in an effort to re-construct and re-present Aisha as a central authority in Islamic knowledge production. This work constitutes a major rethinking of the Muslim hadith and jurisprudential traditions by evaluating how Aisha responded to hadiths that were circulating and being ascribed, often incorrectly, as authoritative statements of the Prophet Muhammad. From her critique of overwhelmingly male Companions of the Prophet, the study elicits a methodology for hadith criticism which is sure to challenge classical approaches. Sofia Rehman unearths the scholarly acumen of this great female Companion and mother of the believers, in her discussion of several legal positions which Aisha held in contradistinction to many of the male authorities among the Companions. This interdisciplinary study serves as a model for how the voice of Aisha may be given renewed life and significance in the way it re-centres her traditions and thinking. A crucial aspect is its contributing to expanding the horizons of multiple Islamic disciplines. A major contribution to the study of hadith lies in the development of an emergent methodology of Aisha in the scrutiny of the actual statements (matn) of traditions, not just the chains of transmission (isnad). The contributions of this study to the development of the Muslim legal tradition (fiqh) also lies in a framework that emerges from this research based on the pattern of how Aisha approaches juridical matters. The implications for this are many, especially regarding women and their spiritual and daily life and practice.“ Sofia Rehman is an independent scholar of Islam, trained both traditionally in Syria and Turkey, and in Western academia, receiving her PhD from the University of Leeds. She advocates bridging the gap between scholarship on Islam and the Muslim community, setting up critical reading groups with global reach to facilitate learning and empowerment. She is a contributor to Mapping Faith: Theologies of Migration, edited by Lia Shimada, Cut from the Same Cloth?, edited by Sabeena Akhtar and Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation, edited by Kavita Bhanot and Jeremy Tiang. She is author of A Treasury of Aisha Bint Abu Bakr. Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/12/202442 minutes, 4 seconds
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On America’s Blind Spot Towards the Palestinians

In their handling of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process over the decades, U.S. officials have displayed a “systemic blind spot” by alleviating pressure on the stronger party, Israel, and increasing pressure on the weaker party, the Palestinians, Khaled Elgindy argues in Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, From Balfour to Trump (Brookings Institution Press, 2019). In my conversation with Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, we explore the particular forms that this blind spot took in successive presidential administrations from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump. And we conclude with his thoughts on how the blind spot is expressed in the Joe Biden presidency as the Israel-Hamas war rages in Gaza. Veteran journalist Paul Starobin is a former Moscow bureau chief for Business Week and a former contributing editor of The Atlantic. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. His latest book, Putin’s Exiles: Their Fight for a Better Russia (Columbia Global Reports) will be published in January. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/9/20241 hour, 5 minutes, 41 seconds
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Alexander Christie-Miller, "To the City: Life and Death Along the Ancient Walls of Istanbul" (Pegasus Books, 2024)

Walking along the crumbling defensive walls of Istanbul and talking to those he passes, Alexander Christie-Miller finds a distillation of the country’s history, a mirror of its present, and a shadow of its future in his book To the City: Life and Death Along the Ancient Walls of Istanbul (Pegasus Books, 2024). Caught between two seas and two continents, Istanbul lies at the centre of the most pressing challenges of our time. With environmental decay, rapacious development and tightening authoritarianism straining its social fabric to breaking point, it represents the precipitous moment civilizations around the world are currently facing. In and around its crumbling Byzantine-era fortifications, Alexander Christie-Miller meets people who are experiencing the looming crisis and fighting back, sometimes triumphing despite the odds. To the City seamlessly blends two narratives: the story of Turkey’s tumultuous recent past told through the lives of those who live around the walls, and the story of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II’s siege and capture of the city in 1453. That event still looms large in Turkey, as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan like a latter-day sultan invokes its memory as part of his effort to transform the country in an echo of its imperial past. This is a meditation on the soul of Istanbul, a paean to its resilience and fortitude. Walk with Christie-Miller and see the danger, beauty and hope. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/8/202446 minutes, 6 seconds
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Jonathan A. C. Brown, "Slavery and Islam" (Oneworld Academic, 2019)

In his majestic and encyclopedic new book Slavery and Islam (Oneworld Academic, 2019), Jonathan A. C. Brown presents a sweeping analysis of Muslim intellectual, political, and social entanglements with slavery, and some of the thorniest conceptual and ethical problems involved in defining and writing about slavery. Self-reflective and bold, Slavery and Islam also offers a remarkable combination of intellectual and social history, anchored in layers of complex yet eminently accessible textual analysis. What makes talking about slavery so difficult? What are the dominant discourses on and attitudes about slavery that have dominated Muslim history? What are some of the major points of overlap and fissure between Western and Muslim understandings of slavery? And how must one confront the ethical and interpretive challenges brought by the presence of slavery in Islam? These are among the questions Brown explores and addresses in this monumental work of scholarship that is sure to spark many conversations and debates, within and outside Islamic Studies. SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at [email protected]. Listener feedback is most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/21/20241 hour, 12 minutes, 41 seconds
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Daphna Sharfman, "Jerusalem in the Second World War" (Routledge, 2024)

Daphna Sharfman's book Jerusalem in the Second World War (Routledge, 2024) is the first to present the unique story of the city of Jerusalem during the events of the Second World War and how it played a unique role in both the military and civilian aspects of the war. Whilst Jerusalem is usually known for topics such as religion, archaeology, or the politics of the Israeli-Arab conflict, this volume provides an in-depth analysis of this exceptional and temporary situation in Jerusalem, offering a perspective that is different from the usual political-strategic-military analysis. Although battles were raging in the nearby countries of Syria and Lebanon, and the war in Egypt and the Western Desert, the people who came to Jerusalem, as well as those who lived there, had different agendas and perspectives. Some were spies and intelligence officers, other were exiles or refugee immigrants from Europe who managed at the last moment to escape Nazi persecution. Journalists and writers described life in the city at this time. All were probably conscious of the fact that when the war came to an end, local rivalry and mounting conflict would take the centre stage again. This was a time of a special, magical drawn-out moment that may shed light on an alternative, more peaceful, kind of Jerusalem that unfortunately was not to be. This volume seeks to find an alternative approach and to contribute to the development of insightful research into life in an unordinary city in an unordinary situation. It will be of value to those interested in military history and the history of the Middle East. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/18/20241 hour, 31 minutes, 42 seconds
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Adam Bursi, "Traces of the Prophets: Relics and Sacred Spaces in Early Islam" (Edinburgh UP, 2024)

Adam Bursi’s Traces of the Prophets: Relics and Sacred Spaces in Early Islam (Edinburg University Press, 2024) uses writings by early Muslims to map a history of material objects, relics, and tombs of prophetic figures as they were conceptualized in the 8th and 9th centuries. The book draws from various genres of writings, including biographies and hadith of the Prophet Muhammad and Qur’an commentaries and juristic compilations to capture the tensions and practices around tomb and relic veneration. Some of the discussion of Muslim relic veneration are polemical as they aim to establish some boundaries around similar pious practices amongst Jewish and Christian communities. In the process, we learn that there were indeed debates with regards to the post-mortem “traces” or “athar” of Muhammad’s tomb, which then impacted how spaces associated with him were also perceived, as well as other prophetic figures like Ibrahim (Abraham) or Daniel. Such examples raise conceptual questions of absence and presence and Prophet Muhammad’s capacity for intercession and obligatory versus non-obligatory rituals. In charting these early Muslim debates and narratives, Bursi masterfully captures the differing approaches Muslims had to holy bodies and sacred spaces. The book will be of interest to scholars who think about early Islamic history and also for scholars who work on contemporary Islamic material and shrine cultures. Shobhana Xavier is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/17/202456 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Future of Afghanistan: A Discussion with Kate Clark

Ever since the Taliban victory in 2021 there has been very little prospect of significant change in Afghanistan. There is no rival to the Taliban and no prospect of them losing power at least for the foreseeable future - but within that framework what does the future hold for the country? There is no one better able to answer that than Kate Clark who used to report from Kabul for the BBC under the first Taliban government and who has remained working on Afghanistan ever since. Listen to her in conversation with Owen Bennett-Jones. Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A former BBC correspondent and presenter he has been a resident foreign correspondent in Bucharest, Geneva, Islamabad, Hanoi and Beirut. He is recently wrote a history of the Bhutto dynasty which was published by Yale University Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/17/202440 minutes, 7 seconds
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Hamza Hamouchene and Katie Sandwell, "Dismantling Green Colonialism: Energy and Climate Justice in the Arab Region" (Pluto Press, 2023)

Just in Time - the urgent need for a just transition in the Arab region. The newly published book Dismantling Green Colonialism: Energy and Climate justice in the Arab Region (Pluto Press, 2023) edited by Hamza Hamouchene and Katie Sandwell questions the development of sustainable energy production in the middle eastern and north African region. Positioning itself as part of a wider discussion of just transition, it provides wonderful insight into the colonial and capitalist narratives used to legitimise projects coming from the Global North. Furthermore, it highlights the fact that there is a need to deconstruct environmental orientalism to tackle questions of power at a local, regional, and international level. Hamza Hamouchene is a researcher, activist and the programme coordinator for Africa at the Transnational Institute, based in the UK. Originally from Algeria, he brings wide understanding of climate and social justice.  Sarah Vogelsanger is a master student at SOAS in "Environment, Politics, and Development" and passionate about feminist approaches to social justice and political ecology.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/16/202450 minutes, 22 seconds
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Sarah El-Kazaz, "Politics in the Crevices: Urban Design and the Making of Property Markets in Cairo and Istanbul" (Duke UP, 2023)

In Politics in the Crevices: Urban Design and the Making of Property Markets in Cairo and Istanbul (Duke UP, 2023), Sarah El-Kazaz takes readers into the world of urban planning and design practices in Istanbul and Cairo. In this transnational ethnography of neighborhoods undergoing contested rapid transformations, she reveals how the battle for housing has shifted away from traditional political arenas onto private crevices of the city. She outlines how multiple actors—from highly capitalized international NGOs and corporations to city dwellers, bureaucrats, and planning experts—use careful urban design to empower conflicting agendas, whether manipulating property markets to protect affordable housing or corner luxury real estate. El-Kazaz shows that such contemporary politicizations of urban design stem from unresolved struggles at the heart of messy transitions from the welfare state to neoliberalism, which have shifted the politics of redistribution from contested political arenas to design practices operating within market logics, ultimately relocating political struggles onto the city’s most intimate crevices. In so doing, she raises critical questions about the role of market reforms in redistributing resources and challenges readers to rethink neoliberalism and the fundamental ways it shapes cities and polities. Sarah El-Kazaz is Associate Professor in the politics department at SOAS, University of London. Her research interests include: critical political economy, urbanism, infrastructure and digital politics, and her new book project investigates the politics of digital infrastructures by following “Cloud” technologies across the Global South. Her work appears in peer-reviewed journals including: Comparative Studies in Society and History, and City and Society. She previously taught at Oberlin College, and completed a PhD at Princeton University. Lamis Abdelaaty is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She is the author of Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2021). Email her comments at [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/15/202451 minutes, 27 seconds
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Jewish War Ethics, Ancient to Contemporary: A Conversation with Rabbi Shlomo Brody

How should we think about violent accounts in the Bible? Why did Gandhi urge the Jews to turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism during World War II? What is the reality behind buzz-words like asymmetric warfare and collective punishment that come up so often when discussing events in Gaza? What role should global opinion and the hostage crisis play in Israeli strategy? Is there a moral imperative to win? Jewish ethicist Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Brody discusses these questions and more in this discussion of his recent book Ethics of Our Fighters: A Jewish View on War and Morality. This conversation examines how history and ethics bear on modern dilemmas in Gaza, and presents vital information and historical context for thinking about how to respond to the events of October 7. Shlomo Brody is the Executive Director of Ematai, an organization which provides guidance to Jewish families and rabbis surrounding morally difficult health issues such as end-of-life care and organ donation. He is also the Jewish Law Live columnist for the Jerusalem Post. He has previously served as the founding director of the Tikvah Overseas Student Institute and co-dean of Tikvah Online Academy, a senior instructor at Yeshivat Hakotel, and as a junior research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. His writings have been cited in Israeli Supreme Court decisions and appeared in a wide variety of publications including First Things, Tablet, The Forward, and the Jewish Review of Books. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, he received rabbinic ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, an MA in Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University, and his PhD from Bar Ilan University Law School. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/14/202453 minutes, 37 seconds
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Amira Mittermaier, "Giving to God: Islamic Charity in Revolutionary Times" (U California Press, 2019)

In her stunning new book, Giving to God: Islamic Charity in Revolutionary Times (University of California Press, 2019), Amira Mittermaier, Associate Professor of Religion and Anthropology at the University of Toronto, conducts a dazzling and at many times moving ethnography of an Islamic economy of giving and charity in Egypt. By presenting an intimate portrait of a range of actors and organizations, who both give and receive charity, Mittermaier highlights often unrecognized political practices and horizons that disrupt dominant liberal secular logics of humanitarian charity. In our conversation, we discussed a range of topics including the productive tension between revolutionary politics and everyday practices of giving, competing visions of the “poor” and of the interaction of charity and justice, intersections of social and divine justice, the relationship between eschatology, pious practices of charity, and the materiality of the everyday, and the political possibilities offered by “Giving to God” in a moment in Egypt marked by the rise and dominance of neoliberal authoritarianism. This splendidly written book will be widely discussed and debated by scholars of Islam, anthropology, religion, and the Middle East; it will also make a terrific text for courses on these and other topics. SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at [email protected]. Listener feedback is most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/12/202457 minutes, 43 seconds
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Alp Yenen and Erik-Jan Zürcher, "A Hundred Years of Republican Turkey: A History in a Hundred Fragments" (Leiden UP, 2023)

The Republic of Turkey was founded a hundred years ago on 29 October 1923. Turkey holds a unique position between Europe and the Middle East. It continues to captivate international attention, evoking hopes and fears in the hearts and minds of contemporary observers. As a critical commemoration of its centenary, A Hundred Years of Republican Turkey: A History in a Hundred Fragments (Leiden University Press, 2023) presents a mosaic of one hundred carefully curated fragments by expert authors, shedding light on politics, economy, society, culture, gender, and arts in a hundred years of Turkey. Each fragment offers a glimpse into a specific aspect of Turkey’s development, revealing the complexities of Turkey’s historical reality. Through exhibiting a diverse range of historical sources like laws, speeches, essays, letters, newspaper articles, poems, songs, memoirs, photos, posters, maps, and diagrams, each fragment brings the voices and images of Turkey’s past and present to readers. This book is an invaluable resource for researchers, educators, students, and anyone interested in Turkey’s fascinating history since 1923. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/5/202457 minutes, 26 seconds
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Refqa Abu-Remaileh, "Country of Words: A Transnational Atlas for Palestinian Literature" (Stanford UP, 2023)

Country of Words: A Transnational Atlas for Palestinian Literature (Stanford UP, 2023) is a digital-born project that retraces and remaps the global story of Palestinian literature in the twentieth century, starting from the Arab world and going through Europe, North America, and Latin America. Sitting at the intersection of literary history, periodical studies, and digital humanities, Country of Words creates a digitally networked and multilocational literary history—a literary atlas enhanced. The virtual realm acts as the meeting place for the data and narrative fragments of this literature-in-motion, bringing together porous, interrupted, disconnected, and discontinuous fragments into an elastic, interconnected, and entangled literary history. Country of Words taps into the power of Palestinian literature to defy conventional linear, chronological, and artificial national frames of representation. Despite the fact that an unprecedented number of the world's population live as refugees, exiles, or stateless people, the logic of the nation-state continues to loom large over literary studies. Delving into the decentralized and deterritorialized history of Palestinian literature, the story of an entire nation-in-exile living through repetitive cycles of occupation and in multiple diasporas can facilitate an understanding of extranational forms of literary production. Ultimately, Country of Words seeks to offer new perspectives and approaches that simultaneously include and transcend national literary frames. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/4/20241 hour, 20 minutes, 56 seconds
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Bedross Der Matossian, "The Armenian Social Democrat Hnchakian Party: Politics, Ideology and Transnational History" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

Bedross Der Matossian's The Armenian Social Democrat Hnchakian Party: Politics, Ideology and Transnational History (Bloomsbury, 2023), based on new research, sheds light on the history of the Social Democrat Hnchakian Party, a major Armenian revolutionary party that operated in the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Persia and throughout the global Armenian diaspora. Divided into sections which cover the origins, ideology, and regional history of the SDHP, the book situates the history of the Hnchaks within debates around socialism, populism, and nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. The SDHP was not only an Armenian party but had a global Marxist outlook, and scholars in this volume bring to bear expertise in a wide range of histories and languages including Russian, Turkish, Persian and Latin American to trace the emergence and role this influential party played from their split with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the events of the Armenian genocide to the formation of the first Armenian Republic and then Soviet Armenia. Putting the Hnchaks in context as one of many nationalist radical groups to emerge in Eurasia in the late 19th century, the book is an important contribution to Armenian historiography as well as that of transnational revolutionary movements in general. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
2/3/20241 hour, 30 seconds
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Adrian Goldsworthy, "Rome and Persia: The Seven Hundred Year Rivalry" (Basic Books, 2023)

For almost seven centuries, two powers dominated the region we now call the Middle East: Rome and Persia. From the west: The Roman Republic, later the Roman Empire, later the Byzantine Empire. From the East: The Parthian Empire, later replaced by the Sasanian Empire. The two ancient superpowers spent centuries fighting for influence, paying each other off, encouraging proxy fights in their neighbors, and seizing opportunities while the other was distracted with internal strife. The relationship culminates in an almost-three-decade long war that so exhausts the two powers that they both end up getting overrun by the Arabs years later. Adrian Goldsworthy gives a detailed account of this long history in his recent book Rome and Persia: The Seven Hundred Year Rivalry (Basic Books: 2023), starting from the (alleged) first contact in 92 BC through to the collapse of Persia in the seventh century. The two of us are going to try our best to talk about this long history in our interview today. Adrian Goldsworthy is an award-winning historian of the classical world. He is the author of numerous books about ancient Rome, including Hadrian’s Wall (Basic Books: 2018), Caesar: Life of a Colossus (Yale University Press: 2008), How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower (Yale University Press: 2010), Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World (Yale University Press: 2016), and Augustus: First Emperor of Rome (Yale University Press: 2014). You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Rome and Persia. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is an editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/25/20241 hour, 8 minutes, 39 seconds
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Nicholas Morton, "The Crusader States and their Neighbours: A Military History, 1099-1187" (Oxford UP, 2020)

Nicholas Morton’s The Crusader States and their Neighbours: A Military History, 1099-1187 (Oxford UP, 2020) explores the military history of the medieval Near East, piecing together the fault-lines of conflict which entangled this much-contested region. This was an area where ethnic, religious, dynastic, and commercial interests collided and the causes of war could be numerous. Conflicts persisted for decades and were fought out between many groups including Kurds, Turks, Armenians, Arabs, and the Crusaders themselves. Nic Morton recreates this world, exploring how each faction sought to advance its own interests by any means possible, adapting its warcraft to better respond to the threats posed by their rivals. Strategies and tactics employed by the pastoral societies of the Central Asian steppe were pitted against the armies of the agricultural societies of Western Christendom, Byzantium, and the Islamic World, galvanising commanders to adapt their practices in response to their foes.  In this episode, Nic joins me again to discuss histories of nomadic peoples fighting with and against the Crusader armies; what military history can tell us about the economic, social, and cultural history of the medieval Near East; and why Crusader history is still relevant to us today. Maggie Freeman is a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/22/20241 hour, 34 seconds
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Yitzhak Teutsch, "The Cyprus Detention Camps: The Essential Research Guide" (Cambridge Scholars, 2019)

Beginning in August 1946, stateless and visaless Jews, most of them survivors of the Nazi death camps, who sought to immigrate to the Land of Israel were intercepted by the Royal Navy and deported to the nearby island of Cyprus, where they were detained in camps surrounded by barbed wire. Despite occupying a dramatic and fateful position in modern history, this saga has remained largely inaccessible due to the widespread dispersal of the primary sources and the linguistic difficulties presented by them.  To address these problems, Yitzhak Teutsch's book The Cyprus Detention Camps: The Essential Research Guide (Cambridge Scholars, 2019) scrutinizes the scholarly literature, consulting hundreds of primary sources, many of them previously unknown, on three continents, bringing together interviews with scores of eyewitnesses, and translating foreign-language terms into English. The result is a comprehensive, meticulously footnoted guide that uses such tools as maps, a detailed timeline, and biographical entries to make this riveting saga accessible to a broad audience of scholars and general readers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/18/20241 hour, 49 minutes, 14 seconds
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What Can We Learn From A Pottery Shard? Uncovering the Ancient Past Through Biblical Archeology with Professor Aren Maeir

Some people are good at what they do, some are enthusiastic about their work. This guest brings both to bear in his exploration of the ancient past. Today we are privileged to talk with a distinguished figure in the world of archeology whose enthusiasm doesn’t quit. Professor. Aren Maeir is not only an accomplished archaeologist, but he is also a captivating storyteller who brings the past to life through his discoveries. Professor Aren M. Maeir is Director of the Tel es Safi/Gath Archeological Project in Israel. He is an expert in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology, with a particular focus on the Bronze and iron Ages of the Ancient Near East. Professor Maeir is based at (and formerly served as the chairmen of) the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, where he teaches Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology, and serves as the head of the Institute of Archaeology. Maeir is also the co-director of the “Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times” (RIAB), and the director of the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies. He is also the co-editor of the Israel Exploration Journal. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/17/202436 minutes, 44 seconds
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Geoffrey Levin, "Our Palestine Question: Israel and American Jewish Dissent, 1948-1978" (Yale UP, 2023)

American Jews began debating Palestinian rights issues even before Israel’s founding in 1948. Geoffrey Levin recovers the voices of American Jews who, in the early decades of Israel’s existence, called for an honest reckoning with the moral and political plight of Palestinians. These now‑forgotten voices, which include an aid‑worker‑turned‑academic with Palestinian Sephardic roots, a former Yiddish journalist, anti‑Zionist Reform rabbis, and young left‑wing Zionist activists, felt drawn to support Palestinian rights by their understanding of Jewish history, identity, and ethics. They sometimes worked with mainstream American Jewish leaders who feared that ignoring Palestinian rights could foster antisemitism, leading them to press Israeli officials for reform. But Israeli diplomats viewed any American Jewish interest in Palestinian affairs with deep suspicion, provoking a series of quiet confrontations that ultimately kept Palestinian rights off the American Jewish agenda up to the present era. In Our Palestine Question: Israel and American Jewish Dissent, 1948-1978 (Yale UP, 2023), Levin lays the groundwork for more forthright debates over Palestinian rights issues, American Jewish identity, and the U.S.‑Israel relationship more broadly. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/16/20241 hour, 8 minutes, 39 seconds
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Karen C. Pinto, "Medieval Islamic Maps: An Exploration" (U Chicago Press, 2016)

The history of Islamic mapping is one of the new frontiers in the history of cartography. Medieval Islamic Maps: An Exploration (University of Chicago Press, 2016) offers the first in-depth analysis of a distinct tradition of medieval Islamic maps known collectively as the Book of Roads and Kingdoms (Kitab al-Masalik wa al-Mamalik, or KMMS). Created from the mid-tenth through the nineteenth century, these maps offered Islamic rulers, scholars, and armchair explorers a view of the physical and human geography of the Arabian peninsula, the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean, Spain and North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, the Iranian provinces, present-day Pakistan, and Transoxiana. Historian Karen C. Pinto examines around 100 examples of these maps retrieved from archives across the world from three points of view: iconography, context, and patronage. By unraveling their many symbols, she guides us through new ways of viewing the Muslim cartographic imagination. Dr. Karen Pinto is an Associate Scholar in Religious Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Karen is working on a forthcoming book that explores the Islamic conception of the Mediterranean and mapping. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/16/202453 minutes, 4 seconds
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Uri Kaufman, "Eighteen Days in October: The Yom Kippur War and How It Created the Modern Middle East" (St. Martin's Press, 2023)

October 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, a conflict that shaped the modern Middle East. The War was a trauma for Israel, a dangerous superpower showdown, and, following the oil embargo, a pivotal reordering of the global economic order. The Jewish State came shockingly close to defeat. A panicky cabinet meeting debated the use of nuclear weapons. After the war, Prime Minister Golda Meir resigned in disgrace, and a 9/11-style commission investigated the "debacle." But, argues Uri Kaufman in Eighteen Days in October: The Yom Kippur War and How It Created the Modern Middle East (St. Martin's Press, 2023), from the perspective of a half century, the War can be seen as a pivotal victory for Israel. After nearly being routed, the Israeli Defense Force clawed its way back to threaten Cairo and Damascus. In the war's aftermath both sides had to accept unwelcome truths: Israel could no longer take military superiority for granted--but the Arabs could no longer hope to wipe Israel off the map. A straight line leads from the battlefields of 1973 to the Camp David Accords of 1978 and all the treaties since. Like Michael Oren's Six Days of War, this is the definitive account of a critical moment in history. Drora Arussy, EdD, MA, MJS, is the Executive Director of Unity Through Diversity Institute. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/15/202457 minutes, 37 seconds
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Matthew Levitt, "Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad" (Yale UP, 2008)

The world is reeling from the savage terror attack that brutalized, raped, murdered and kidnapped Israelis and civilians from at least 25 other countries, continuing to hold many of them hostage – and from the ongoing war that followed. After Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, some thought it would become more moderate. That was wishful thinking. The barbaric massacre of October 7, 2023 made it clear that Hamas is a terrorist group intent on destroying Israel and hoping to spark a regional – and even wider-war. We talk with Matthew Levitt, a counterterrorism expert with extensive field experience in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and author of Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad (Yale UP, 2008). This important book provides the most fully researched assessment of Hamas ever written. It draws aside the veil of legitimacy behind which Hamas hid, by presenting concrete, detailed evidence from an extensive array of international intelligence materials, including recently declassified CIA, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security reports. Levitt demolishes the notion that Hamas’ military, political, and social wings are distinct from one another. Levitt exposes Hamas as a unitary organization committed to a militant Islamist ideology.and expands the book’s insights and their implication for the future in “The War Hamas Always Wanted.” Foreign Affairs, 16 Oct. 2023, and "The Road to Oct 7: Hamas’ Long Game, Clarified" in CTC Sentinel (Combating Terrorism Center at West Point), Vol. 16, issue 10, Oct.-Nov. 2023. Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at [email protected]. She's on Twitter @embracingwisdom. She blogs here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/14/202436 minutes, 10 seconds
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Rishad Choudhury, "Hajj Across Empires: Pilgrimage and Political Culture After the Mughals, 1739-1857" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

In Hajj Across Empires: Pilgrimage and Political Culture After the Mughals, 1739-1857 (Cambridge UP, 2023), Rishad Choudhury presents a new history of imperial connections across the Indian Ocean from 1739 to 1857, a period that witnessed the decline and collapse of Mughal rule and the consolidation of British colonialism in South Asia. In this highly original and comprehensive study, he reveals how the hajj pilgrimage significantly transformed Muslim political culture and colonial attitudes towards it, creating new ideas of religion and rule. Examining links between the Indian Subcontinent and the Ottoman Middle East through multilingual sources – from first-hand accounts to administrative archives of hajj – Choudhury uncovers a striking array of pilgrims who leveraged their experiences and exchanges abroad to address the decline and decentralization of an Islamic old regime at home. Hajjis crucially mediated the birth of modern Muslim political traditions around South Asia. Hajj across Empires argues they did so by channeling inter-imperial crosscurrents to successive surges of imperial revolution and regional regime change. Rishad Choudhury is an Assistant Professor of History at Oberlin College. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the Western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on X @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/14/20241 hour, 27 minutes, 7 seconds
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Jacob L. Wright, "Why the Bible Began: An Alternative History of Scripture and Its Origins" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Why did no other ancient society produce something like the Bible? That a tiny, out of the way community could have created a literary corpus so determinative for peoples across the globe seems improbable. For Jacob Wright, the Bible is not only a testimony of survival, but also an unparalleled achievement in human history. Forged after Babylon's devastation of Jerusalem, it makes not victory but total humiliation the foundation of a new idea of belonging. Lamenting the destruction of their homeland, scribes who composed the Bible imagined a promise-filled past while reflecting deeply on abject failure. More than just religious scripture, the Bible began as a trailblazing blueprint for a new form of political community. Its response to catastrophe offers a powerful message of hope and restoration that is unique in the Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman worlds.  Wright's Bible is thus a social, political, and even economic roadmap - one that enabled a small and obscure community located on the periphery of leading civilizations and empires not just to come back from the brink, but ultimately to shape the world's destiny. The Bible speaks ultimately of being a united yet diverse people, and its pages present a manual of pragmatic survival strategies for communities confronting societal collapse. Why the Bible Began: An Alternative History of Scripture and Its Origins (Cambridge University Press, 2023) is a tour de force. Jacob L. Wright is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/13/202455 minutes, 53 seconds
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Con Coughlin, "Assad: The Triumph of Tyranny" (Picador, 2023)

In Assad: The Triumph of Tyranny (Picador, 2023), Con Coughlin, veteran commentator on war in the Middle East and author of Saddam: The Secret Life, examines how a mild-mannered ophthalmic surgeon has transformed himself into the tyrannical ruler of a once flourishing country. Until the Arab Spring of 2011, the world’s view of Bashar al-Assad was largely benign. He and his wife, a former British banker, were viewed as philanthropic individuals doing their best to keep their country at peace. So much so that a profile of Mrs Assad in American Vogue was headlined ‘The Rose in the Desert’. Shortly after it appeared, Syria descended into the horrific civil war that has seen its cities reduced tos rubble and thousands murdered and displaced, a civil war that was still raging over a decade later. In this vivid and authoritative account Con Coughlin draws together all the strands of Assad's remarkable story, revealing precisely how a young doctor ensured not only that he inherited the presidency from his father, but has held on to power by whatever means necessary, continuing to preside over one of the most brutal regimes of modern times. Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at [email protected]. She's on Twitter @embracingwisdom. She blogs here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/12/202433 minutes, 45 seconds
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Judith Surkis, "Sex, Law, and Sovereignty in French Algeria, 1830-1930" (Cornell UP, 2019)

Judith Surkis's Sex, Law, and Sovereignty in French Algeria, 1830-1930 (Cornell UP, 2019) traces the intersection of colonialism, law, land expropriation, sex, gender, and family during the century after the French conquest of Algeria in 1830. Seeking to assimilate Algerian land while differentiating Algerian Muslims from European settlers, colonial authorities developed a system that confined Muslim law to family matters while subjecting Algerian property to French Civil law. Securing and extending French sovereignty over Algeria, this system deprived Algerian Muslims of full citizenship rights while reinforcing French colonial authority. Sex, Law, and Sovereignty is a rigorous and provocative critical "history of the present" that illuminates the persistence of the "Muslim question" in contemporary France. In chapters focused on polygamy, repudiation, and child marriage, the book traces the ways that the French fantasies of the family, including the sexualization of Muslim women and a preoccupation with the sexual "excesses" of Muslim men, found expression in legislation that segregated the legal control of property from the regulation of bodies, beliefs, and personhood. A fascinating genealogy that understands colonial law and the problem of difference within a broader cultural field, the book is an impressive, compelling analysis with striking resonances for a Franco-Algerian present still shaped by the legacies of the colonial past. Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada who specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century France and its empire. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send her an email ([email protected]). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/12/20241 hour, 43 seconds
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Ali Abdullatif Ahmida, "Genocide in Libya: Shar, a Hidden Colonial History" (Routledge, 2020)

This original research on the forgotten Libyan genocide specifically recovers the hidden history of the fascist Italian concentration camps (1929-1934) through the oral testimonies of Libyan survivors. Ali Abdullatif Ahmida's book Genocide in Libya: Shar, a Hidden Colonial History (Routledge, 2020) links the Libyan genocide through cross-cultural and comparative readings to the colonial roots of the Holocaust and genocide studies. Between 1929 and 1934, thousands of Libyans lost their lives, directly murdered and victim to Italian deportations and internments. They were forcibly removed from their homes, marched across vast tracks of deserts and mountains, and confined behind barbed wire in 16 concentration camps. It is a story that Libyans have recorded in their Arabic oral history and narratives while remaining hidden and unexplored in a systematic fashion, and never in the manner that has allowed us to comprehend and begin to understand the extent of their existence. Based on the survivors' testimonies, which took over ten years of fieldwork and research to document, this new and original history of the genocide is a key resource for readers interested in genocide and Holocaust studies, colonial and postcolonial studies, and African and Middle Eastern studies. Jeff Bachman is Senior Lecturer in Human Rights at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/9/20241 hour, 5 minutes, 18 seconds
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Sara Rahnama, "The Future Is Feminist: Women and Social Change in Interwar Algeria" (Cornell UP, 2023)

When Algerians of the 1920s and 30s imagined the future of their country, women’s liberation was foundational to their vision. From the first generation of French-educated schoolteachers, to urban domestic workers who challenged spatial and economic divisions, to nationalist journalists pushing back against French colonial claims, Sara Rahnama describes how a range of Algerian actors conceived of women’s rights and responded to new developments in their own country and across the Middle East.  The Future is Feminist: Women and Social Change in Interwar Algeria (Cornell University Press, 2023) reveals a broad consensus that the advancement of Muslim women was necessary to Algeria’s progress. Rahnama draws on new sources to explain the “ecosystem of intellectual energy devoted to Muslim” that debated girls’ education, women’s employment, voting rights, and women’s and men’s headwear. The book places Algeria in a broader regional conversation, as writers turned to Islamic teachings and history and looked to contemporary changes to women’s political and social opportunities in Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Palestine to justify needed reforms in Algeria. These discussions in the interwar period sowed seeds that would blossom in the 1950s and 60s as Algerian women joined the nationalist movement, and gained new platforms to contribute their own opinions to these contested issues. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/7/202449 minutes, 52 seconds
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120 A Roundup Conversation About Indian and Israeli Ethnonationalism

Ajantha Subramanian and Lori Allen turn from hosts to interlocutors in an episode that ties a bow on our Violent Majorities conversations about Indian (episode 1) and Israeli (episode 2) ethnonationalism. The three friends discuss commonalities between Balmurli Natrajan’s charting of the "slippery slope towards a multiculturalism of caste" and Natasha Roth-Rowland's description of the "territorial maximalism" that has been central to Zionism. The role of overseas communities loomed large, as did the roots of ethnonationalism in the fascism of the 1920s, which survived, transmuted or merely masked over the subsequent bloody century, as other ideologies (Communism and perhaps cosmopolitan liberalism among them) waxed before waning. The conversation also examines the current-day shared playbook of the long-distance far-right ideologies of Zionism and Hindutva. And it concludes with a reflection on the suitability of the term fascism to describe such organizations and their historical forebears as well as other contemporary movements. Mentioned in the episode Snigdha Poonam’s recent book Dreamers investigates the “angry young men” engaged in Hindutvite attacks, including those who are economically and educationally marginalized, as well as those who resent what they see as their wrongful decline from privilege. Yuval Abraham’s “The IDF unit turning ‘Hilltop Youth” Settlers into Soldiers” is an investigation into how Israeli settlers from violent outposts are being inducted into a new military unit responsible for severe abuses of Palestinians across the West Bank. (However, in describing Israel’s “hilltop youth” as coming from “lower rungs,” Lori feels she may have overstated their marginalization. Although one report describes Israel’s hilltop youth as young men recruited from unstable homes, others point to the Israeli state’s unwillingness to stop them.) Daniel Kupfert Heller, Jabotinsky's Children, on the rise of the transnational youth movement, Betar. A correction: Jabotinsky was from Odessa (modern Ukraine), but much of his support was in Poland. RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) as the first institutionalization of the Hindutva project and a living remnant of 1920s fascism. The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) arises as the political wing of the RSS and comes to prominence around the destruction of the Ayodhya Mosque. Lori's interview with Zachary Lockman in MERIP about historical changes in American Jewish attitudes towards Zionism. Ajantha refers to the argument in Natasha Roth-Rowland's recent dissertation ("'Not One Inch of Retreat': The Transnational Jewish Far Right, 1929-1996"), that the turn towards Zionism is linked in the US with a turn away from Communism as another transnational movement, waning as Zionism was waxing. Lori mentions the grim effects of the redefinition of anti-Semitism put forward in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA), one response to which is the 2020 Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism. Azad Essa, Hostile Homelands discusses Zionist support of Hindutva activism and lobbying in the US. One group that has modelled its congressional activism on that of the American Jewish Committee and AIPAC is the Hindu American Foundation. Ajantha mentions Hindutvites repurposing their online Islamophobia in support of Israel after Hamas’s October 7th military operation. Alberto Toscano, “The Long Shadow of Racial Fascism” discusses radical Black thinkers who have argued that racial slavery was a form of American fascism. Robert Paxton’s “The Five Stages of Fascism” makes the case that the KKK may be the earliest fascist organization. Recallable Books Alain Brossat and Sylvie Klingard, Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History of Jewish Radicalism. Joshua Cohen The Netanyahus (John spoke with Cohen about the novel in Recall This Book 110) Susan Bayly's Saints, Goddesses and Kings. Christophe Jaffrelot, Modi's India. Read transcript here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/4/202447 minutes, 52 seconds
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Adam Mestyan, "Modern Arab Kingship: Remaking the Ottoman Political Order in the Interwar Middle East" (Princeton UP, 2023)

In Modern Arab Kingship: Remaking the Ottoman Political Order in the Interwar Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2023), Adam Mestyan (Duke University) argues that post-Ottoman Arab political orders were not, as many historians believe, products of European colonialism. Rather, they spurred from the process of “recycling empire.” Mestyan shows that in the post–WWI Middle East, Allied Powers officials and ex-Ottoman patricians collaborated to remake imperial institutions, recycling earlier Ottoman uses of genealogy and religion in the creation of new polities, with the exception of colonized Palestine. The polities, he contends, should be understood not in terms of colonies and nation states but as subordinated sovereign local states—localized regimes of religious, ethnic, and dynastic sources of imperial authority.  Meanwhile, governance without sovereignty became the new form of Western domination. Drawing on hitherto unused Ottoman, French, Syrian, and Saudi archival sources, Mestyan explores ideas and practices of creating composite polities in the interwar Middle East and sheds light on local agency in the making of the forgotten Kingdom of the Hijaz, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, the first Muslim republic. Mestyan also considers the adjustment of imperial Islam to a world without a Muslim empire, discussing the post-Ottoman Egyptian monarchy and the intertwined making of Saudi Arabia and the State of Syria in the 1920s and 1930s. Modern Arab Kingship's innovative analysis underscores how an empire-based theory of the modern political order can help refine our understanding of political dynamics throughout the twentieth century and down to the turbulent present day. Vladislav Lilic is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
1/1/202447 minutes, 41 seconds
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Ilkay Yilmaz, "Ottoman Passports: Security and Geographic Mobility, 1876-1908" (Syracuse UP, 2023)

In Ottoman Passports: Security and Geographic Mobility, 1876-1908 (Syracuse University Press, 2023), İlkay Yılmaz reconsiders the history of two political issues, the Armenian and Macedonian questions, approaching both through the lens of mobility restrictions during the late Ottoman Empire from 1876 to 1908. Yılmaz investigates how Ottoman security perceptions and travel regulations were directly linked to transnational security regimes battling against anarchism. The Hamidian government targeted “internal threats” to the regime with security policies that created new categories of suspects benefiting from the concepts of vagrant, conspirator, and anarchist. Yılmaz explores how mobility restrictions and the use of passports became critical to targeting groups including Armenians, Bulgarians, seasonal and foreign workers, and revolutionaries. Taking up these new policies on surveillance, mobility, and control, Ottoman Passports offers a timely look at the origins of contemporary immigration debates and the historical development of discrimination, terrorism, and counterterrorism. Reuben Silverman is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/24/202355 minutes, 26 seconds
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Devrim Adam Yavuz, "Democracy and Capitalism in Turkey: The State, Power, and Big Business" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

While a positive correlation between capitalism and democracy has existed in Western Europe and North America, the example of late-industrializing nations such as Turkey has demonstrated that the two need not always go hand in hand, and sometimes the interests of business coincide more firmly with anti-democratic forces.  In Democracy and Capitalism in Turkey: The State, Power, and Big Business (Bloomsbury, 2023), Devrim Adam Yavuz explores the factors that compelled capitalists in Turkey to adopt a more pro-democratic ideology by examining a leading Turkish business lobby (TÜSIAD) which has been pushing for democratic reform since the 1990s, despite representing some of the largest corporation owners in Turkey and having supported the state's authoritarian tendencies in the past such as the military coup of 1980. Drawing on roughly 70 interviews with influential members of TÜSIAD and individuals close to them, the book reveals that business leaders were willing to break away from the state due to the conflict between their evolving economic needs and power with a political elite and state that were unwilling to cater to their demands. In so doing, the book provides a rich account of business-state relations in Turkey as well as providing a case study for the wider study of democracy and capitalism in developing nations. Reuben Silverman is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/23/202359 minutes, 37 seconds
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Laila Shereen Sakr, "Arabic Glitch: Technoculture, Data Bodies, and Archives" (Stanford UP, 2023)

Laila Shereen Sakr's book Arabic Glitch: Technoculture, Data Bodies, and Archives (Stanford UP, 2023) explores an alternative origin story of twenty-first century technological innovation in digital politics—one centered on the Middle East and the 2011 Arab uprisings. Developed from an archive of social media data collected over the decades following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, this book interrogates how the logic of programming technology influences and shapes social movements. Engaging revolutionary politics, Arab media, and digital practice in form, method, and content, Laila Shereen Sakr formulates a media theory that advances the concept of the glitch as a disruptive media affordance. She employs data analytics to analyze tweets, posts, and blogs to describe the political culture of social media, and performs the results under the guise of the Arabic-speaking cyborg VJ Um Amel. Playing with multiple voices that span across the virtual and the real, Sakr argues that there is no longer a divide between the virtual and embodied: both bodies and data are physically, socially, and energetically actual. Are we cyborgs or citizens—or both? This book teaches us how a region under transformation became a vanguard for new thinking about digital systems: the records they keep, the lives they impact, and how to create change from within. Laila Shereen Sakr is Assistant Professor of Media Theory and Practice at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/18/202333 minutes, 12 seconds
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Randall Hansen, "War, Work, and Want: How the OPEC Oil Crisis Caused Mass Migration and Revolution" (Oxford UP, 2023)

The oil shock of 1973 changed everything. It brought the golden age of American and European economic growth to an end; it destabilized Middle Eastern politics; and it set in train processes that led to over one hundred million unexpected—and unwanted—immigrants. In War, Work, and Want: How the OPEC Oil Crisis Caused Mass Migration and Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2023), Dr. Randall Hansen asks why, against all expectations, global migration tripled after 1970. The answer, he argues, lies in how the OPEC Oil crisis transformed the global economy, Middle Eastern geopolitics and, as a consequence, international migration. The quadrupling of oil prices and attendant inflation destroyed economic growth in the West while flooding the Middle East with oil money. American and European consumers, their wealth drained, rebuilt their standard of living on the back of cheap labor—and cheap migrants. The Middle East enjoyed the benefits of a historic wealth transfer, but oil became a poisoned chalice leading to political instability, revolution, and war, all of which resulted in tens of millions of refugees. The economic, and migratory, consequences of the OPEC oil crisis transformed the contours of domestic politics around the world. They fueled the growth of nationalist-populist parties that built their brands on blaming immigrants for collapsing standards of living, willfully ignoring the fact that mass immigration was the effect, not the cause, of that collapse. In showing how war (the main driver of refugee flows), work (labor migrants), and want (the desire for ever cheaper products made by migrants) led to the massive upsurge in global migration after 1973, this book will reshape our understanding of the past half-century of global history. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/16/202353 minutes, 26 seconds
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Mario Baghos, "From the Ancient Near East to Christian Byzantium: Kings, Symbols, and Cities" (Cambridge Scholars, 2021)

Mario Baghos's book From the Ancient Near East to Christian Byzantium: Kings, Symbols, and Cities (Cambridge Scholars, 2021) combines concepts from the history of religions with Byzantine studies in its assessments of kings, symbols, and cities in a diachronic and cross-cultural analysis. The work attests, firstly, that the symbolic art and architecture of ancient cities—commissioned by their monarchs expressing their relationship with their gods—show us that religiosity was inherent to such enterprises. It also demonstrates that what transpired from the first cities in history to Byzantine Christendom is the gradual replacement of the pagan ruler cult—which was inherent to city-building in antiquity—with the ruler becoming subordinate to Christ; exemplified by representations of the latter as the ‘Master of All’ (Pantokrator). Beginning in Mesopotamia, the book continues with an analysis of city-building by rulers in Egypt, Greece, and Rome, before addressing Judaism (specifically, the city of Jerusalem) and Christianity as shifting the emphasis away from pagan-gods and rulers to monotheistic perceptions of God as elevated above worldly kings. It concludes with an assessment of Christian Rome and Constantinople as typifying the evolution from the ancient and classical world to Christendom. Buy this book with a 25% discount with the code PROMO25 at the checkout here.  Adrian Guiu holds a PhD in History of Christianity from the University of Chicago and teaches at Wright College in Chicago. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/16/20231 hour, 25 minutes, 56 seconds
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Troels Burchall Henningsen, "Western Intervention and Informal Politics: Simulated Statebuilding and Failed Reforms" (Routledge, 2021)

Western Intervention and Informal Politics: Simulated Statebuilding and Failed Reforms (Routledge, 2021) by Dr. Troels Burchall Henningsen examines the political and military dynamic between threatened local regimes and Western powers, and argues that the power of informal politics forces local regimes to simulate statebuilding. Reforms enabling local states to take care of their own terrorist and insurgency threats are a blueprint for most Western interventions to provide a way out of protracted internal conflicts. Yet, local regimes most often fail to implement reforms that would have strengthened their hand. This book examines why local regimes derail the reforms demanded by Western powers when they rely on their support to stay in power during existentially threatening violent crises. Based on the political settlement framework, the author analyses how web-like networks of militarised elites require local regimes to use informal politics to stay in power. Four case studies of Western intervention are presented: Iraq (2011-2018), Mali (2011-2020), Chad (2005-2010), and Algeria (1991-2000). These studies demonstrate that informal politics narrows strategic possibilities and forces regimes to rely on coup-proofing military strategies, to continue their alliances with militias and former insurgents, and to simulate statebuilding reforms to solve the dilemma of satisfying militarised elites and Western powers at the same time. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/15/20231 hour, 6 minutes, 18 seconds
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Violent Majorities: Indian and Israeli Ethnonationalism. Episode 2

Natasha Roth-Rowland is a writer and researcher at Diaspora Alliance, a former editor at +972 Magazine, and an expert on the Jewish far right. She joins anthropologists Lori Allen and Ajantha Subramanian midway through a three-part RTB series, "Violent Majorities: Indian and Israeli Ethnonationalism." Listen to episode 1 here. The three discuss the transnational formation of the Jewish far right over the 20th and 21st centuries, the gradual movement of far right actors into the heart of the Israeli state, and the shared investment in territorial maximalism, racial supremacy, and natalism across the Zionist ideological spectrum. Coming up next in RTB 120: Lori and Ajantha sit down with John to synthesize what Murli and Natasha had to say about Ethnonationalism in Indian and in Israel. Mentioned in the episode Ben Shitrit, Lihi. Righteous Transgressions: Women’s Activism on the Israeli and Palestinian Religious Right. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016. El-Or, Tamar, and Gideon Aran. “Giving Birth to a Settlement: Maternal Thinking and Political Action of Jewish Women on the West Bank.” Gender and Society 9, no. 1 (February 1995): 60-78. Neuman, Tamara. “Maternal ‘Anti-Politics’ in the Formation of Hebron’s Jewish Enclave.” Journal of Palestine Studies 33, no. 2 (Winter 2004): 51-70. Neuman, Tamara. Settling Hebron: Jewish Fundamentalism in a Palestinian City. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018. Krampf, Arie. The Israeli Path to Neoliberalism: The State, Continuity, and Change. New York, NY: Routledge, 2018. Read and Listen here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/14/202349 minutes, 41 seconds
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Louis-Alexandre Berg, "Governing Security After War: The Politics of Institutional Change in the Security Sector" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Security assistance has become the largest component of international peacebuilding and stabilisation efforts, and a primary tool for responding to civil war and insurgency. Donors and peacekeepers not only train and equip military and police forces, they also seek to overhaul their structure, management, and oversight. Yet, we know little about why these efforts succeed or fail. Efforts to restructure security forces in Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, and the Democratic Republic of Congo ended amidst factional fighting. Similar efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, Mozambique, and Bosnia and Herzegovina helped to transform security forces and underpin peace. What accounts for the mixed outcomes of efforts to restructure security forces after civil war? What is the role of external involvement on these outcomes? In Governing Security After War: The Politics of Institutional Change in the Security Sector (Oxford University Press, 2023), Dr. Louis-Alexandre Berg examines the political dimensions of security governance through systematic, cross-country comparison. Dr. Berg argues that the extent to which state policymakers adopt changes to the management and oversight of security forces depends on internal political dynamics, specifically the degree to which leaders need to consolidate power. The different political strategies leaders pursue, in turn, affect opportunities for external actors to influence institutional changes through means such as conditions on aid, norm diffusion, or day-to-day participation in decision-making. Drawing on an original dataset of security governance and field research in Liberia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Timor-Leste, as well as mini-case studies of Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Somalia, Dr. Berg draws out novel implications that help explain the recurrence of civil war and the impact of foreign aid on peacebuilding. Moreover, Berg provides practical recommendations for navigating the political challenges of institutional change in conflict-affected countries. Ultimately, Governing Security After War seeks to explain the success and failure of international assistance in war-torn countries and sheds light on the politics of peacebuilding. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/14/20231 hour, 21 minutes, 41 seconds
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Abdul Galil Shaif, "South Yemen: Gateway to the World?" (Authorhouse UK, 2022)

Abdul Galil Shaif's book South Yemen: Gateway to the World? (Authorhouse UK, 2022) tells the story of South Yemen. The book traces the history of the country from the struggle for independence from the British which was gained in 1967. The first part provides an insight into the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen, the first and only socialist state in the Arab world its achievements - the emancipation of women, redistribution of land to the people, an impressive mass literacy programme - and its demise due to internecine struggles in the Yemeni Socialist Party. In 1990 South and North Yemen united but the southerners were discriminated against by the northern regime and in 1994 fought a second war for independence. They were defeated and until the Houthi coup in 2014 were second class citizens in a state which exploited their resources and marginalised their people. Another struggle for independence is now being waged as the southerners cannot live in one state with the fundamentalist Houthi regime which controls more than 80 percent of the north. Drora Arussy, EdD, MA, MJS, is the Senior Director of the ASF Institute of Jewish Experience. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/12/202345 minutes, 2 seconds
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Yan Slobodkin, "The Starving Empire: A History of Famine in France's Colonies" (Cornell UP, 2023)

The Starving Empire: A History of Famine in France's Colonies (Cornell University Press, 2023) by Dr. Yan Slobodkin traces the history of famine in the modern French Empire, showing that hunger is intensely local and sweepingly global, shaped by regional contexts and the transnational interplay of ideas and policies all at once. By integrating food crises in Algeria, West and Equatorial Africa, and Vietnam into a broader story of imperial and transnational care, Dr. Slobodkin reveals how the French colonial state and an emerging international community took increasing responsibility for subsistence, but ultimately failed to fulfill this responsibility. Europeans once dismissed colonial famines as acts of god, misfortunes of nature, and the inevitable consequences of backward races living in harsh environments. But as Dr. Slobodkin recounts, drawing on archival research from four continents, the twentieth century saw transformations in nutrition, scientific racism, and international humanitarianism that profoundly altered ideas of what colonialism could accomplish. A new confidence in the ability to mitigate hunger, coupled with new norms of moral responsibility, marked a turning point in the French Empire's relationship to colonial subjects—and to nature itself. Increasingly sophisticated understandings of famine as a technical problem subject to state control saddled France with untenable obligations. The Starving Empire not only illustrates how the painful history of colonial famine remains with us in our current understandings of public health, state sovereignty, and international aid, but also seeks to return food—this most basic of human needs—to its central place in the formation of modern political obligation and humanitarian ethics. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/11/202340 minutes, 57 seconds
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Xavier Luffin, "Another Look at Congolese History: Arabic and Swahili Documents in the Belgian Archives" (Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer, 2020)

Another Look at Congolese History: Arabic and Swahili Documents in the Belgian Archives (Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer, 2020), edited by Xavier Luffin, unlocks an unprecedented journey through the tapestry of Congo's past in Central Africa and the Indian Ocean world. This meticulously compiled collection unveils a trove of Arabic and Swahili archival documents nestled within Belgian archives, presenting an unparalleled lens into a transformative era. Spanning the eve of Belgian colonization, these documents illuminate the diverse cultural landscape, revealing the profound influences of Arab-Muslim communities on Congo's societal fabric. From the Arab Campaign to the expulsion of Azande sultans, these texts narrate the entwined destinies of communities, their interactions, and the seismic shifts in power dynamics. Explore the evolution of Arabic script in East and Central Africa, its appropriation by local populations, and the intricate dance between Arabic and Swahili as potent tools during a tumultuous period of colonization. The Book traces these invaluable historical records' colonial acquisition and geographical origins, offering a vivid mosaic of voices across vast regions. From letters, contracts, and acts of submission to manuscripts, notebooks, and amulets, each document paints a vivid portrait of historical events, intertwined with linguistic nuances and epistolary formulas. Delve into the complexities of scribes, translators, and the materiality shaping the preservation of these texts, revealing the depths of cultural interplay. Another Look at Congolese History stands as a gateway to understanding the intersection of cultures, the triumphs, and complexities of language, and the enduring legacy of these historical testimonies. This anthology beckons historians, linguists, and enthusiasts alike to unearth the untold stories and refine their exploration of Central Africa's social, economic, political, and cultural history. Xavier Luffin a Professor of Arabic Literature at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium). He has translated several novels, short stories, poems, and dramas from Arabic into French. Among his recent publications Poètes noirs d'Arabie: une anthologie (VIe-XIIe siècle) (Éditions de l'Université de Bruxelles, 2021). Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the Western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on X @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/9/20231 hour, 10 minutes, 56 seconds
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Sasha Goldstein-Sabbah et al., "Life & Legacy: A Window into Jewish Life Across the Islamic World" (U Groningen Press, 2023)

Through stunning images, maps and insightful commentary, Life & Legacy: A Window into Jewish Life Across the Islamic World (U Groningen Press, 2023) offers a glimpse into the diversity, historical legacy, and rich culture of Jewish communities within the Muslim world. From the growing Jewish community of Dubai to ancient synagogues and shrines, these photographs capture the beauty and complexity of Jewish life around North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Above all, this photographic book serves as a reminder of the enduring spirit of the Jewish people and the diversity of lived experiences within Islamic societies. This volume presents thematically organized contemporary images of both Jewish life and Jewish heritage from across the Middle Eastern and North Africa. Interspersed throughout the images are an assortment of short essays written by scholars and University of Groningen students to contextualize the presented images. Drora Arussy, EdD, MA, MJS, is the Senior Director of the ASF Institute of Jewish Experience. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/8/202350 minutes, 25 seconds
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Gregory J. Goalwin, "Borders of Belief: Religious Nationalism and the Formation of Identity in Ireland and Turkey" (Rutgers UP, 2022)

Despite theories to the contrary, religious nationalism, and the use of religion to determine membership in the national community, has continued to play a role in processes of identification in societies all around the globe ... and such processes seems likely to continue to structure the ways in which communities view themselves even in today’s globalized and seemingly secularized world. – Gregory Goalwin, Borders of Belief: Religious Nationalism and the Formation of Identity in Ireland and Turkey (Rutgers UP, 2022) Religion and nationalism are two of the most powerful forces in the world. And as powerful as they are separately, humans throughout history have fused religious beliefs and nationalist politics to develop religious nationalism, which uses religious identity to define membership in the national community. But why and how have modern nationalists built religious identity as the foundational signifier of national identity in what sociologists have predicted would be a more secular world? This book takes two cases - nationalism in both Ireland and Turkey in the 20th century - as a foundation to advance a new theory of religious nationalism. By comparing cases, Goalwin emphasizes how modern political actors deploy religious identity as a boundary that differentiates national groups. This theory argues that religious nationalism is not a knee-jerk reaction to secular modernization, but a powerful movement developed as a tool that forges new and independent national identities. "In an age where religious nationalisms and populisms are on the rise, Goalwin's comparative-historical work is a welcome contribution for comprehending how religious identities and politics interact. A valuable source for social scientists as well as non-specialists who are interested in this complex phenomenon." – Efe Peker, co-author, Challenging Neoliberalism at Turkey’s Gezi Park: From Private Discontent to Collective Action Gregory Goalwin is an assistant professor of sociology at Aurora University in Illinois. His research has been published in journals including Social Science History, Patterns of Prejudice, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Nationalities Papers, and the Journal of Historical Sociology. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/7/20231 hour, 39 minutes, 4 seconds
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Ibrahim Fraihat and Isak Svensson, "Conflict Mediation in the Arab World" (Syracuse UP, 2023)

Today I talked to Isak Svensson (editor) and Laurie Nathan (contributor) about Conflict Mediation in the Arab World (Syracuse UP, 2023), a very important and timely work focusing on mediation in the Arab world. While we focused on the book, we also tried to look how various models discussed in the book may fit the current situation in Israel and Palestine. The Middle East and North Africa region has been plagued with civil wars, international interventions, and increasing militarization, making it one of the most war-affected areas in the world today. Despite numerous mediation processes and initiatives for conflict resolution, most have failed to transform conflicts from war to peace. Seeking to learn from these past efforts and apply new research, Fraihat and Svensson present the first comprehensive approach to mediation in the Arab world, taking on cases from Yemen to Sudan, from Qatar to Palestine, Syria, and beyond. Conflict Mediation in the Arab World focuses on mediation at three different levels of analysis: between countries, between governments and armed actors inside single countries, and between different communities. In applying this holistic method, the editors identify similarities and differences in the conditions for conflict resolution and management. Drawing upon the work of experts in the field with a deep understanding of the increasing complexities and changing dynamics of the region, this volume offers a valuable resource for academics, policy makers, and practitioners interested in conflict resolution and management in the Middle East and North Africa. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/5/202351 minutes, 37 seconds
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Nur Sobers-Khan et al., "Beyond Colonial Rupture: Print Culture and the Emergence of Muslim Modernity in Nineteenth-Century South Asia" (2023)

Scholarly discussions on Islam in print have focused predominantly on the role of Urdu in the development of North Indian Muslim publics (Dubrow, 2018; Robb, 2020), ʿulama and Islamic jurisprudence (Tareen, 2020) and relations between Islam and colonial modernity (Robinson, 2008; Osella & Osella, 2008). This special issue of International Journal of Islam in Asia (Sept, 2023) instead offers fine-grained investigations on technology and labour; print landscapes, networks and actors; subaltern languages; and popular Islam. We critique the idea of an “epistemic rupture” brought about by colonial modernity, providing a more systematic analysis of continuities and changes in Islamic knowledge economy. Examining two centuries of print authored by South Asian Muslims, the articles in the issue provide new ways of thinking about questions of knowledge production, distribution, circulation and reception. The issue broadens the scope of earlier scholarship, examining genres such as cosmology, divination, devotional poems, salacious songs, romances and tales of war in Urdu, Persian, Arabic, dobhāṣī do Bangla, Arabic Malayalam, Sindhi, Balochi and Brahui. The articles show the different ways that pre-colonial practices and cultures of writing and reading persisted in the print landscape, in terms of copying, adaptation, translation and circulation of texts. They inquire into new technologies, labour and networks that evolved, and how it provided fertile ground for both new and traditional forms of religious activities and authorities. The articles present new Muslim publics, geographies, and imaginaries forged through the vernacularisation of Islam, and their relationship to the transnational or global community. Nur Sobers-Khan is a researcher and curator of Islamic manuscripts, art and archival collections. She served as director of the Aga Khan Documentation Center, a research centre and archive for the study of visual culture, architecture and urbanism in Muslim societies (2021-22). Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the Western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/4/202341 minutes, 6 seconds
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Robert B. Rakove, "Days of Opportunity: The United States and Afghanistan Before the Soviet Invasion" (Columbia UP, 2023)

Long before the 1979 Soviet invasion, the United States was closely concerned with Afghanistan. For much of the twentieth century, American diplomats, policy makers, businesspeople, and experts took part in the Afghan struggle to modernize, delivered vital aid, and involved themselves in Kabul’s conflicts with its neighbors. For their own part, many Afghans embraced the potential benefits of political and commercial ties with the United States. Yet these relationships ultimately helped make the country a Cold War battleground. Robert B. Rakove sheds new light on the little-known and often surprising history of U.S. engagement in Afghanistan from the 1920s to the Soviet invasion, tracing its evolution and exploring its lasting consequences. Days of Opportunity: The United States and Afghanistan Before the Soviet Invasion (Columbia UP, 2023) chronicles the battle for influence in Kabul, as Americans contended with vigorous communist bloc competition and the independent ambitions of successive Afghan governments. Rakove examines the phases of peaceful Cold War competition, including development assistance, cultural diplomacy, and disaster relief. He demonstrates that Americans feared the “loss” of Afghanistan to Soviet influence—and were never simply bystanders, playing pivotal roles in the country’s political life. The ensuing collision of U.S., Soviet, and Afghan ambitions transformed the country—and ultimately led it, and the world, toward calamity. Harnessing extensive research in U.S. and international archives, Days of Opportunity unveils the remarkable and tragic history of American involvement in Afghanistan. Robert B. Rakove is a lecturer in international relations at Stanford University. He is the author of Kennedy, Johnson, and the Nonaligned World (2012). Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/3/20231 hour, 21 minutes, 5 seconds
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Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilisation

The “barbarian” nomads of the Eurasian steppes have played a decisive role in world history, but their achievements have gone largely unnoticed. These nomadic tribes have produced some of the world’s greatest conquerors: Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, among others. Their deeds still resonate today. Indeed, these nomads built long-lasting empires, facilitated the first global trade of the Silk Road and disseminated religions, technology, knowledge and goods of every description that enriched and changed the lives of so many across Europe, China and the Middle East. From a single region emerged a great many peoples—the Huns, the Mongols, the Magyars, the Turks, the Xiongnu, the Scythians, the Goths—all of whom went on to profoundly and irrevocably shape the modern world.  Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s newest book Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization (Bloomsbury, 2023) vividly re-creates the lives and world of these often-forgotten peoples from their beginnings to the early modern age. Their brutal struggle to survive on the steppes bred a resilient, pragmatic people ever ready to learn from their more advanced neighbors. In warfare, they dominated the battlefield for over fifteen hundred years. Under charismatic rulers, they could topple empires and win their own. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/2/202358 minutes, 31 seconds
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Jackie Lubeck, "To The Good People of Gaza: Theatre for Young People by Jackie Lubeck and Theatre Day Productions" (Methuen Drama, 2022)

To The Good People of Gaza: Theatre for Young People by Jackie Lubeck and Theatre Day Productions (Methuen Drama, 2022) ties together nineteen plays produced by Theatre Day Productions, one of the foremost community theatres in the Middle East. Written by playwright Jackie Lubeck, this collection responds to the siege on Gaza and the Israeli military operations from 2009 to 2014, reflecting how Gazan youth deal with trauma, loss and urban destruction. But these plays are also surprisingly funny, reflecting the fundamental absurdities life under occupation and life in wartime. In this conversation, we discuss the book, the history of Theatre Day Productions, and the current state of the company, which is still in Gaza undergoing Israeli bombardment. Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
12/2/202349 minutes, 49 seconds
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Charlotte Al-Khalili, "Waiting for the Revolution to End: Syrian Displacement, Time and Subjectivity (UCL Press, 2023)

Waiting for the Revolution to End: Syrian Displacement, Time and Subjectivity (UCL Press, 2023) by Dr. Charlotte Al-Khalili explores the Syrian revolution through the experiences of citizens in exile. Based on more than three years of embedded fieldwork with Syrians displaced in the border city of Gaziantep (southern Turkey), the book places the Syrian revolution and its tragic aftermath under ethnographic scrutiny. It charts the evolution from peaceful uprising (2011) to armed confrontation (2012), descent into fully fledged conflict (2013) and finally to proxy war (2015), to propose an understanding of revolution beyond success and failure. While the Assad regime remains in place, the Syrian revolution (al-thawra) still holds a transformational power that can be located on intimate and world-making scales. Dr. Al-Khalili traces the unintended consequences of revolution and its unexpected consequences to reveal the reshaping of Syrian life-worlds and exiles’ evolving theorizations, experiences and imaginations of al-thawra. She describes the in-between spatio-temporal realm inhabited by Syrians displaced to Turkey as they await the revolution’s outcomes, and maps the revolution’s multidimensional and multi-scalar effects on their everyday life. By following the chronology of events inside Syria and Syrians’ geography of displacement, the book makes the relation between revolution and displacement its centerpiece, both as an ethnographic object and an analytical device. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/28/202350 minutes, 35 seconds
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Dan Senor and Saul Singer, "The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World" (Simon and Schuster, 2023)

How has a small nation of 9 million people, forced to fight for its existence and security since its founding and riven by ethnic, religious, and economic divides, proven resistant to so many of the societal ills plaguing other wealthy democracies? Why do Israelis have among the world’s highest life expectancies and lowest rates of “deaths of despair” from suicide and substance abuse? Why is Israel’s population young and growing while all other wealthy democracies are aging and shrinking? How can it be that Israel, according to a United Nations ranking, is the fourth happiest nation in the world? Why do Israelis tend to look to the future with hope, optimism, and purpose while the rest of the West struggles with an epidemic of loneliness, teen depression, and social decline? The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World (Simon and Schuster, 2023), already on the New York Times’ bestseller list, was written by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, the writers behind the international bestseller Start-Up Nation. They have long been students of the global innovation race. But as they spent time with Israel’s entrepreneurs and political leaders, soldiers and students, scientists and activists, ultra-Orthodox Jews, Tel Aviv techies, and Israeli Arabs, they realized that they had missed what really sets Israel apart. Moving from military commanders integrating at-risk youth and people who are neurodiverse into national service, to high performing companies making space for working parents, from dreamers and innovators launching a duct-taped spacecraft to the moon, to bringing better health solutions to people around the world, The Genius of Israel tells the story of a diverse people and society built around the values of service, solidarity, and belonging. Widely admired for having the world’s highest density of high-tech start-ups, Israel’s greatest innovation may not be a technology at all, but Israeli society itself. Understanding how a country facing so many challenges can be among the happiest provides surprising insights into how we can confront the crisis of community, human connectedness, and purpose in modern life. Bold, timely, and insightful, Senor and Singer’s latest work shines an important light on the impressive innovative distinctions of Israeli society—and what other communities and countries can learn. Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at [email protected]. She's on Twitter @embracingwisdom. She blogs here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/26/202327 minutes, 20 seconds
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Nader Kadhem, "Africanism: Blacks in the Medieval Arab Imaginary" (McGill-Queen's UP, 2023)

Anti-blackness has until recently been a taboo topic within Arab society. This began to change when Nader Kadhem, a prominent Arab and Muslim thinker from Bahrain, published the first in-depth investigation of anti-black racism in the Arab world in 2004. This translation of the new and revised edition of Kadhem’s influential text brings the conversation to the English-speaking world. Al-Istifraq or Africanism, a term analogous to Orientalism, refers to the discursive elements of perceiving, imagining, and representing black people as a subject of study in Arabic writings. Kadhem explores the narratives of Africanism in the Arab imaginary from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century to show how racism toward black people is ingrained in the Arab world, offering a comprehensive account of the representations of blackness and black people in Arab cultural narratives - including the Quran, the hadith, and Arabic literature, geography, and history.  Africanism: Blacks in the Medieval Arab Imaginary (McGill-Queen's UP, 2023) examines the pejorative image of black people in Arab cultural discourse through three perspectives: the controversial anthropological concept that culture defines what it means to be human; the biblical narrative of Noah cursing his son Ham’s descendants - understood to be darker-skinned - with servitude; and Greco-Roman physiognomy, philosophy, medicine, and geography. Describing the shifting standards of inclusion that have positioned Arab identity in opposition to blackness, Kadhem argues that in the cultural imaginary of the Arab world, black people are widely conflated with the Other. Analyzing canonical Arabic texts through the lens of English, French, and German theory, Africanism traces the history of racism in Arab culture. Africanism digs deep into the cultural constructions of blacks in all aspects of the Arab imaginary, including language, religion, philosophy, literature, geography, and history. Author: Nader Kadhem is a professor emeritus of cultural studies at the University of Bahrain. Kadhim authored many literature and cultural criticism articles and studies published in Bahraini Arabic media. He has published 16 books that can be found here. Translator: Amir Al-Azraki is an Arab-Canadian playwright, literary translator, Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner, Associate Professor, and Coordinator of the Studies in Islamic and Arab Cultures Program, Renison University College, University of Waterloo. His research interests include Arab Theatre, Afro-Arab Cultural Heritage and Representation, and Literary Translation (Arabic-English) Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the Western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on X @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/25/202342 minutes, 41 seconds
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Jarmo T. Kotilaine, "Sustainable Prosperity in the Arab Gulf: From Miracle to Method" (Routledge, 2023)

Tracing the development journey of the Arabian Gulf region with a forward-looking perspective, Sustainable Prosperity in the Arab Gulf: From Miracle to Method (Routledge, 2023) describes how a combination of good fortune, creative experimentation, and determination has enabled the region to achieve prosperity. Today, the Arabian Gulf is well-positioned to assume a pivotal role in the new global order. Forced to balance an extreme climate and acute resource constraints, but also an exceptional location, the region's progress and prosperity have historically been precarious and vulnerable to external shocks. Efforts to transcend resource dependency have typically involved proactive attempts to enable other economic activities.  This book argues that, while conventional economic diversification is making headway, the Gulf region is in fact amidst a far more holistic transformation that positions it for a pivotal role in the emerging multipolar global order. It now offers globally competitive regulations and world-class infrastructure at the heart of the Old World, flanked by two fast-growing continents. It has become the hub of choice for a growing share of inter-continental flows of people, trade, and capital, and has established strong economic ties in all directions. This book shows how, despite many risks and challenges, the region possesses the forward-looking vision and necessary resilience that can finally liberate it from its long-standing "resource curse" and a development paradigm that looks likely to provide the foundation for sustained well-being in the decades ahead. The scope and rigor of the book make it suitable as a reference on the Arabian Gulf and for those interested in global affairs and economic development, as well as policymakers and the business community. Jarmo T. Kotilaine has held several positions in the financial services sector and at government-related entities in the Gulf region, and currently works at a fund tasked with supporting economic diversification in Bahrain. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/22/20231 hour, 1 minute, 2 seconds
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Israel, Hamas, and American Jews in a Time of War

On today’s episode of International Horizons, RBI director John Torpey speaks with Jodi Rudoren, editor-in-chief of the Forward magazine, about the situation in Israel and Gaza. She notes that Hamas’s incursion into Israel on October 7, 2023, shattered the paradigm of how Israel and even the Arab world understood what Hamas was all about. The result has been a deep sense of shock and mourning among Israelis for those who have lost loved ones or had them taken hostage. At the same time, some Jews reject the massive Israeli response and are protesting against it. Meanwhile, many progressive Jews in the United States have found that their allies in social justice efforts have proven not to be on the same team when Israelis are the targets of violence. Despite all the violence and heartache, it nonetheless appears that the conflict might lead to a political solution – the only one that will allow Israel and the Palestinians to live together on the small strip of the Middle East that they inhabit. International Horizons is a podcast of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies that brings scholarly expertise to bear on our understanding of international issues. John Torpey, the host of the podcast and director of the Ralph Bunche Institute, holds conversations with prominent scholars and figures in state-of-the-art international issues in our weekly episodes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/22/202337 minutes, 28 seconds
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Providence and Power: Rabbi Meir Soloveichik on Jewish Statesmanship from King David to David Ben Gurion

For thousands of years, the Jewish people lacked a political state; yet, what can we say about the Jewish tradition of statesmanship? What makes it distinctive, and what can we learn from it? In Providence and Power: Ten Portraits in Jewish Statesmanship (Encounter Books, 2023) , Rabbi Meir Soloveichik investigates ten Jews, from King David all the way to the foundation of Israel, what we can learn from their examples, and how history can provide hope amidst recent events in Israel. Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik is director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. He received his PhD in Religion at Princeton in 2010. Among the world's preeminent Jewish thinkers and educators, Rabbi Soloveichik has lectured across the United States and Europe on topics relating to Jewish theology, bioethics, wartime ethics, and Jewish-Christian relations. He has a monthly column in Commentary magazine, and his writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, First Things, and many other outlets. He is the host of the podcast Bible 365, and you can also listen to him via the Meir Soloveichik podcast. Sources and examples referenced in the interview: Rembrandt's David in Prayer, 1652. John Trumbull's George Washington Resigning His Commission and Declaration of Independence (1826). George Washington's Letter to the Jews of Savannah (1790). Dan Senor and Saul Singer's recent book The Genius of Israel. A secular Israeli broadcaster borrows a kippah and performs a blessing. Annika Nordquist is the Communications Coordinator of Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and host of the Program’s podcast, Madison’s Notes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/21/202351 minutes, 2 seconds
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Marika Sosnowski, "Redefining Ceasefires: Wartime Order and Statebuilding in Syria" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Since 2012, ceasefires have been used in Syria to halt violence and facilitate peace agreements. However, in Redefining Ceasefires: Wartime Order and Statebuilding in Syria (Cambridge University Press, 2023), Dr. Marika Sosnowski argues that a ceasefire is rarely ever just a 'cease fire'. Instead, she demonstrates that ceasefires are not only military tactics but are also tools of wartime order and statebuilding. Bringing together rare primary documents and first-hand interviews with over eighty Syrians and other experts, Dr. Sosnowski offers original insights into the most critical conflict of our time, the Syrian civil war. From rebel governance to citizen and property rights, humanitarian access to economic networks, ceasefires have a range of heretofore underexamined impacts. Using the most prominent ceasefires of the war as case studies, Dr. Sosnowski demonstrates the diverse consequences of ceasefires and provides a fuller, more nuanced portrait of their role in conflict resolution. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/21/202342 minutes, 50 seconds
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Elizabeth M. Perego, "Humor and Power in Algeria, 1920 to 2021" (Indiana UP, 2023)

In times of peace as well as conflict, humor has served Algerians as a tool of both unification and division. Humor has also assisted Algerians of various backgrounds and ideological leanings with engaging critically in power struggles throughout the country's contemporary history.  By analyzing comedic discourse in various forms (including plays, jokes, and cartoons), Humor and Power in Algeria, 1920 to 2021 (Indiana UP, 2023) demonstrates the globally informed and creative ways that civilians have made sense of moments of victory and loss through humor. Using oral interviews and media archives in Arabic, French, and Tamazight, Elizabeth M. Perego expands on theoretical debates about humor as a tool of resistance and explores the importance of humor as an instrument of war, peace, and social memory, as well as a source for retracing volatile, contested pasts. Humor and Power in Algeria, 1920 to 2021 reveals how Algerians have harnessed humor to express competing visions for unity in a divided colonial society, to channel and process emotions surrounding a brutal war of decolonization and the forging of a new nation, and to demonstrate resilience in the face of a terrifying civil conflict. Elizabeth M. Perego is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Appalachian State University. Her work has appeared in the Journal of North African Studies and the International Journal of Middle East Studies. Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/20/202346 minutes, 53 seconds
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Bahriye Kemal, "Writing Cyprus: Postcolonial and Partitioned Literatures of Place and Space" (Routledge, 2021)

Bahriye Kemal's ground-breaking new work serves as the first study of the literatures of Cyprus from a postcolonial and partition perspective. Writing Cyprus: Postcolonial and Partitioned Literatures of Place and Space (Routledge, 2021) explores Anglophone, Hellenophone and Turkophone writings from the 1920s to the present. Drawing on Yi-Fu Tuan's humanistic geography and Henri Lefebvre's Marxist philosophy, Kemal proposes a new interdisciplinary spatial model, at once theoretical and empirical, that demonstrates the power of space and place in postcolonial partition cases. The book shows the ways that place and space determine identity so as to create identifications; together these places, spaces and identifications are always in production. In analysing practices of writing, inventing, experiencing, reading, and construction, the book offers a distinct 'solidarity' that captures the 'truth of space' and place for the production of multiple-mutable Cypruses shaped by and for multiple-mutable selves, ending in a 'differential' Cyprus, Mediterranean, and world. Writing Cyprus offers not only a nuanced understanding of the actual and active production of colonialism, postcolonialism and partition that dismantles the dominant binary legacy of historical-political deadlock discourse, but a fruitful model for understanding other sites of conflict and division Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/16/20231 hour, 32 minutes, 45 seconds
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Richard S. Ascough, "Early Christ Groups and Greco-Roman Associations: Organizational Models and Social Practices" (Cascade Books, 2022)

Exegetes have long relied on the framework of the Acts of the Apostles to understand the behavior and organization of Paul’s various ekklēsiai (assemblies), or church communities, from which Christ-groups have often been conceptualized as extensions from practices of diasporic Jewish synagogues. However, Richard S. Ascough’s work has been at the forefront of a scholarly movement emphasizing the relevance of data from Greco-Roman associations—occupational, cultic, ethnic, and otherwise—not only as a preferable model for understanding the constitution of early Christ-following communities, but also as fruitful comparanda for interpreting Paul’s letters, such as 1 Thessalonians and Philippians.  On this episode, Dr. Ascough joined the New Books Network to discuss Early Christ Groups and Greco-Roman Associations: Organizational Models and Social Practices (Cascade Books, 2022), a collection of his articles and essays on associations from the last 25 years detailing the road to the acceptance of association data within scholarship as well as the recruitment, self-promotion, socializing, and memorializing practices that these recoveries from antiquity reveal. Ascough discusses how he carved his own niche within biblical studies, from starting as a master’s student with a small group to translate previously unpublished inscriptions and papyri to ultimately showcasing the applicability of association behavior to early Christ-groups, Pauline and otherwise. Richard S. Ascough (Ph.D., Toronto School of Theology, 1997) is a Professor at the School of Religion at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He has written extensively on the formation of early Christ groups and Greco-Roman religious culture, with particular attention to various types of associations. He has published widely in the field with more than fifty articles or essays and thirteen books, including Christ Groups & Associations: Foundational Essays(Baylor U. Press, 2022), Associations in the Greco-Roman World: A Sourcebook (Baylor U. Press, 2012), and Paul’s Macedonian Associations (Mohr Siebeck, 2003). He has been recognized for his innovative and effective teaching in many ways, including the two top teaching awards at Queen’s University and a 3M National Teaching Fellowship (2018). Rob Heaton (Ph.D., University of Denver, 2019) hosts Biblical Studies conversations for New Books in Religion and teaches New Testament, Christian origins, and early Christianity at Anderson University in Indiana. He recently authored The Shepherd of Hermas as Scriptura Non Grata: From Popularity in Early Christianity to Exclusion from the New Testament Canon (Lexington Books, 2023). For more about Rob and his work, or to offer feedback related to this episode, please visit his website at https://www.robheaton.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/16/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 5 seconds
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Shay Rabineau, "Walking the Land: A History of Israeli Hiking Trails" (Indiana UP, 2023)

Israel has one of the most extensive and highly developed hiking trail systems of any country in the world. Millions of hikers use the trails every year during holiday breaks, on mandatory school trips, and for recreational hikes.  Shay Rabineau's Walking the Land: A History of Israeli Hiking Trails (Indiana UP, 2023) offers the first scholarly exploration of this unique trail system. Featuring more than ten thousand kilometers of trails, marked with hundreds of thousands of colored blazes, the trail system crisscrosses Israeli-controlled territory, from the country's farthest borders to its densest metropolitan areas. The thousand-kilometer Israel National Trail crosses the country from north to south. Hiking, trails, and the ubiquitous three-striped trail blazes appear everywhere in Israeli popular culture; they are the subjects of news articles, radio programs, television shows, best-selling novels, government debates, and even national security speeches. Yet the trail system is almost completely unknown to the millions of foreign tourists who visit every year and has been largely unstudied by scholars of Israel. Walking the Land explores the many ways that Israel's hiking trails are significant to its history, national identity, and conservation efforts. Christopher P. Davey is Visiting Assistant Professor at Clark University's Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/12/202359 minutes, 15 seconds
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Steven Simon, "Grand Delusion: The Rise and Fall of American Ambition in the Middle East" (Penguin, 2023)

A longtime American foreign policy insider’s penetrating and definitive reckoning with this country’s involvement in the Middle East The culmination of almost forty years at the highest levels of policymaking and scholarship, Grand Delusion: The Rise and Fall of American Ambition in the Middle East (Penguin, 2023) is Steven Simon’s tour de force, offering a comprehensive and deeply informed account of U.S. engagement in the Middle East. Simon begins with the Reagan administration, when American perception of the region shifted from a cluster of faraway and frequently skirmishing nations to a shining, urgent opportunity for America to (in Reagan’s words) “serve the cause of world peace and the future of mankind.” Reagan fired the starting gun on decades of deepening American involvement, but as the global economy grew, bringing an increasing reliance on oil, U.S. diplomatic and military energies were ever more fatefully absorbed by the Middle East. Grand Delusion explores the motivations, strategies, and shortcomings of each presidential administration from Reagan to today, exposing a web of intertwined events—from the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict amid Israeli domestic politics, Cold War rivalries, and Saudi Arabia’s quest for security, to 9/11 and the war on terror—managed by a Washington policy process frequently ruled by wishful thinking and partisan politics. Simon’s sharp sense of irony and incisive writing brings complex history to life. He illuminates the motives behind America's commitment to Israel; explodes the popular narrative of Desert Storm as a “good war”; and calls out the devastating consequences of our mistakes, particularly for people of the region trapped by the onslaught of American military action and pitiless economic sanctions. Grand Delusion reveals that this story, while episodically impressive, has too often been tragic and at times dishonorable. As we enter a new era in foreign policy, this is an essential book, a cautionary history that illuminates America's propensity for self-deception and misadventure at a moment when the nation is redefining its engagement with a world in crisis. Andrew O. Pace is a historian of moral dilemmas of US foreign relations and an adjunct professor of history at Salt Lake Community College. He is a co-host of the Diplomatic History Channel on the New Books Network and is currently working on a book about the reversal in US foreign policy from victory at all costs in World War II to peace at any price in the Vietnam War. He can be reached at [email protected] or via andrewopace.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/11/20231 hour, 42 seconds
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Akram Benjamin, "Cotton, Finance and Business Networks in a Globalised World: The Case of Egypt During the First half of the Twentieth Century" (2019)

Firms and entrepreneurs were key drivers of the globalisation of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This thesis investigates commodity networks, foreign banking and business networks, as three manifestations of the first global economy, in Egypt. The country was integrated into the world economy by exporting cotton, importing foreign capital, and hosting a large foreign community. The thesis shows that the Egyptian cotton network was sophisticated as market participants were spatially dispersed. The network was instrumentally coordinated by foreign banks that provided the crucial functions of intermediating the flows of cotton, finance, and information. Departing from the literature that portrays foreign banks in developing countries as manifestations of imperialism and exploitation of host countries, the thesis demonstrates that the history of these banks in Egypt does not conform to this rhetoric. The case of the Ionian Bank reveals that foreign banks in Egypt were businesses that sought profits and faced many risks and challenges. Some risks were uncontrollable and negatively affected banks’ performance, which was shaped by trade-off between opportunity and risk appetite. The analysis of the interlocking directorates of the Egyptian corporate and elite networks demonstrates that these networks, predominantly controlled by local foreigners, served as a basis for coordinating and maintaining collective interests. The structure of the elite network presumably fostered entrepreneurial activities that were funded by foreign capital. The analysis documents the gradual rise of indigenous entrepreneurs at the expense of local foreigners. The study demonstrates how Egypt’s integration into the first modern globalisation was facilitated by foreign firms and entrepreneurs. It points out the need to revise the historiography of foreign capital and foreigners in Egypt during this period. In addition, the thesis contributes to the limited business history scholarship on the Middle East and furthers our understanding of the complex nature of globalisation. "Cotton, Finance and Business Networks in a Globalised World: The Case of Egypt During the First half of the Twentieth Century" (2019) was the winner fo the Coleman Prize in 2020. It is available open access here.  Akram Benjamin is a postdoctoral researcher at the ERC-funded project "Global Correspondent Banking, 1870-2000" at the University of Oxford. After starting his profesional life as a banker in his native country, Benjamin then took on academia in the UK. He has benefited from a Joint Japan World Bank Scholarship Program and besides a PhD holds a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification. Bernardo Batiz-Lazo is currently straddling between Newcastle and Mexico City. You can find him on twitter on issues related to business history of banking, fintech, payments and other musings. Not always in that order. @BatizLazo. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/8/202332 minutes, 1 second
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Hamas, Iran and Israel: The Perils of Overreaction

In this episode of International Horizons, Colin Clarke, director of research at the Soufan Center, discusses the possible trajectories of the Israel-Palestine conflict with RBI director John Torpey. Clarke introduces the linkages of Hamas with Iran and the way in which the Iranian government backs a number of different proxy groups in the Middle East. He argues that Hamas miscalculated the attack on Israel and that Israel’s overreaction (backed by the U.S.) is very dangerous, threatening a wider war in the region. Clarke also comments on the role of the "international community" in all this, as there are no credible brokers to negotiate peace, potentially making the conflict harder to end. Moreover, Clarke contends that Israel acknowledges that it will be criticized internationally no matter what it does; thus, the focus of Israel's policy is on domestic public opinion, which may be backfiring for Netanyahu. International Horizons is a podcast of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies that brings scholarly expertise to bear on our understanding of international issues. John Torpey, the host of the podcast and director of the Ralph Bunche Institute, holds conversations with prominent scholars and figures in state-of-the-art international issues in our weekly episodes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/6/202334 minutes, 35 seconds
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David Alan Parnell, "Belisarius & Antonina: Love and War in the Age of Justinian" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Belisarius and Antonina were titans in the Roman world some 1,500 years ago. Belisarius was the most well-known general of his age, victor over the Persians, conqueror of the Vandals and the Goths, and as if this were not enough, wealthy beyond imagination. His wife, Antonina, was an impressive person in her own right. She made a name for herself by traveling with Belisarius on his military campaigns, deposing a pope, and scheming to disgrace important Roman officials. Together, the pair were extremely influential, and arguably wielded more power in the late Roman world than anyone except the emperor Justinian and empress Theodora themselves. This unadulterated power and wealth did not mean that Belisarius and Antonina were universally successful in all that they undertook. They occasionally stumbled militarily, politically, and personally - in their marriage and with their children. These failures knock them from their lofty perch, humanize them, and make them even more relatable and intriguing to us today. Belisarius & Antonina: Love and War in the Age of Justinian (Oxford UP, 2023) is the first modern portrait of this unique partnership. They were not merely husband and wife but also partners in power. This is a paradigm which might seem strange to us, as we reflexively imagine that marriages in the ancient world were staunchly traditional, relegating wives to the domestic sphere only. But Antonina was not a reserved housewife, and Belisarius showed no desire for Antonina to remain in the home. Their private and public lives blended as they traveled together, sometimes bringing their children, and worked side-by-side. Theirs was without a doubt the most important nonroyal marriage of the late Roman world, and one of the very few from all of antiquity that speaks directly to contemporary readers. Dr. David Alan Parnell is an Associate Professor of History at Indiana University Northwest. He is the author of Justinian’s Men (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and has worked on numerous articles about the military and social life of the sixth-century Roman Empire. He is also a consultant, recently working on Epic History TV’s documentary series on Belisarius. Evan Zarkadas (MA) is an independent scholar of European and Medieval history and an educator. He received his master’s in history from the University of Maine focusing on Medieval Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, medieval identity, and ethnicity during the late Middle Ages. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/4/20231 hour, 9 seconds
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Toby Matthiesen, "The Caliph and the Imam: The Making of Sunnism and Shiism" (Oxford UP, 2023)

It was common during the years of the U.S. invasion of Iraq to talk about the Sunni-Shia split—and how the sectarian violence was the result of a “centuries-long hatred” between the two different religious schools. But seeing this divide as the result of a longstanding feud—or to see it in the model of other religious schisms, like the Catholic-Protestant split and the centuries of war that followed—would be a mistake, argues Toby Matthiesen. Toby, in his most recent book The Caliph and the Imam: The Making of Sunnism and Shiism (Oxford University Press, 2023), tries to chart the history of the Sunni-Shia split: its origins at the very start of Islam’s founding, and how different Muslim polities—including those outside of the Arabian core—flitted between tolerance and conflict. In this interview, Toby and I talk about the origins of the division between the Sunni and the Shia, how different regimes throughout history molded and were molded by the split, and what that means for the present day. Toby Matthiesen is Senior Lecturer in Global Religious Studies at the University of Bristol. He is the author of several award-winning books and has previously held fellowships at the Universities of Oxford, Ca' Foscari of Venice, Stanford, Cambridge, and the LSE. You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of The Caliph and the Imam. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is an editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at@nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/2/202343 minutes, 29 seconds
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Paschalis Kitromilides, "Insular Destinies: Perspectives on the History and Politics of Modern Cyprus" (Routledge, 2021)

In Insular Destinies: Perspectives on the History and Politics of Modern Cyprus (Routledge, 2021), Paschalis Kitromilides employs his twin academic specializations in political science and in intellectual history to understand the intricacies of the historical experience of his native island. Writing in a perspective inspired by the work of Fernand Braudel, he attempts in a series of studies in cultural and social history to recover lost and overlooked aspects of the collective destinies of Cyprus and the Cypriot diaspora in the centuries of Ottoman rule, a period of critical significance for the survival of the people of the island. He then turns to a penetrating analysis of the politics of the Cyprus Question. The pertinent studies collected in this volume bear the imprint of the deep soul-searching by the younger generation of Cypriot scholars at the time of the tragedy of 1974 over what went so wrong that their country was exposed to foreign invasion, occupation and division. The hints at answers to these questions offered by the author's interdisciplinary and critical treatment of the subject make this work an indispensable aid to anyone wishing to grasp the deeper antinomies and dilemmas immanent in the Cyprus Question. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
11/1/202359 minutes, 29 seconds
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On Wars: A Discussion with Michael Mann

“Irrationality rules” in war, Michael Mann writes in his magisterial 2023 book, On Wars (Yale UP, 2023), a history that begins with the Roman Republic and ancient China and works its way through the world wars of the 20th century and up to present times. Mann is a Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. His irrationality thesis, which posits that many wars are the product of miscalculations by over-confident rulers with little regard for their own people, offers an insightful and persuasive challenge to the Realist school on war, which stresses a rational aspect to the designs of war-making states. Then, too, Mann notes, wars can be driven by religious convictions and by a lust for revenge. Our conversation touches on the conflict in Israel-Palestine reignited by the Hamas massacre of Israeli civilians in October, 2023 as well as on the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war launched by Vladimir Putin in February, 2022. Veteran journalist Paul Starobin is a former Moscow bureau chief for Business Week and a former contributing editor of The Atlantic. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. His latest book, Putin’s Exiles: Their Fight for a Better Russia (Columbia Global Reports) will be published in January. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/31/202355 minutes, 36 seconds
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James White, "Persian and Arabic Literary Communities in the Seventeenth Century: Migrant Poets between Arabia, Iran and India" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

A wealth of scholarship has highlighted how commercial, political and religious networks expanded across the Arabian Sea during the seventeenth century, as merchants from South Asia traded goods in the ports of Yemen, noblemen from Safavid Iran established themselves in the courts of the Mughal Empire, and scholars from across the region came together to debate the Islamic sciences in the Arabian Peninsula's holy cities of Mecca and Medina.  James White's book Persian and Arabic Literary Communities in the Seventeenth Century: Migrant Poets between Arabia, Iran and India (Bloomsbury, 2023) demonstrates that the globalising tendency of migration created worldly literary systems which linked Iran, India and the Arabian Peninsula through the production and circulation of classicizing Arabic and Persian poetry. By close reading over seventy unstudied manuscripts of seventeenth-century Arabic and Persian poetry that have remained hidden on the shelves of libraries in India, Iran, Turkey and Europe, the book examines how migrant poets adapted shared poetic forms, imagery and rhetoric to engage with their interlocutors and create communities in the cities where they settled. The book begins by reconstructing overarching patterns in the movement of over a thousand authors, and the economic basis for their migration, before focusing on six case studies of literary communities, which each represent a different location in the circulatory system of the Arabian Sea. In so doing, the book demonstrates the plurality of seventeenth-century aesthetic movements, a diversity which later nationalisms purposefully simplified and misread. James White is Departmental Lecturer of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/29/20231 hour, 10 minutes, 57 seconds
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Youcef L. Soufi, "The Rise of Critical Islam: 10th-13th Century Legal Debate" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Youcef Sufi's book The Rise of Critical Islam: 10th-13th Century Legal Debate (Oxford University Press, 2023) is a fascinating and engaging exploration of the history of critique in Islamic legal and intellectual history. It does this specifically through a case study of dispensations and disputations, known as munāẓarāt in Arabic. Dispensations were a practice of debates that were an important feature of a jurist's practice and an opportunity for him to showcase his juristic skills – for instance, they were sometimes tasked with having to defend a position that they disagreed with or that contradicted the opinion of the school they followed and represented. Ultimately, these dispensations serve as an excellent case study of the tremendous diversity of thought and the celebration of difference of opinion in Islamic history and Islamic law; they also show that for Muslim jurists, engaging in these debate was an act of piety, as a part of their personal and intellectual quest to discover God's law. In our conversation, we discuss the origins of the book, some of its main points and arguments, a detailed description of these dispensations (such as who participated in them, who was excluded from them, how the debate topic was chosen), the shifts and developments they undergo with time, and the role of ijtihad (or independent reasoning or re-interpretations of Islamic law) and taqlid (or sticking to the past scholarly positions) in these debates. We also discuss specific themes such as child or forced marriage, women’s right to divorce, which are perceived to have been settled matters but it turns out, not quite! And finally, Sufi explains why and how these disputations came to an end and what jurists participating in them may have imagined the role of later generations to be in the process of Islamic law-making. Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She can be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/27/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 17 seconds
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Nick Riemer, "Boycott Theory and the Struggle for Palestine: Universities, Intellectualism and Liberation" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022)

The academic boycott of Israel, a branch of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is one of the richest—and most divisive—topics in the politics of knowledge today. In Boycott Theory and the Struggle for Palestine: Universities, Intellectualism and Liberation (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022), Nick Riemer addresses the most fundamental questions raised by the call to sever ties with Israeli universities, and offers fresh arguments for doing so. More than a narrow study of the boycott campaign, the book details how academic BDS relates to a range of live controversies in progressive politics on questions such as disruptive protest, silencing and free speech, the real-world consequences of intellectual work, the rise of the far right, and the nature of grassroots campaigning. Written for open-minded readers, the book presents the fullest justification for the academic boycott yet given, considering BDS efforts on campuses around the world. The opening chapters explore the fundamentals of the academic boycott campaign, detailing the conditions on the ground in Palestinian and Israeli higher education and analyzing debates over the boycott and its adoption or resistance in the west. The later chapters contextualize the boycott with respect to broader questions about the links between theory and practice in political change. Directly rebutting the arguments of BDS’s opponents, Boycott Theory and the Struggle for Palestine demonstrates the political and intellectual soundness of a controversial and often misrepresented campaign. In defending an original view of the differences between reflecting on politics and doing it in the specific context of the liberation of Palestine, the book’s arguments will have a resonance for many wider debates beyond the context of either universities or the Middle East. Nick Riemer is senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Sydney. As a Palestine solidarity activist, Riemer has published widely in both academic and popular outlets and been criticized openly by conservative media. In addition to his Palestine solidarity work, his political activity includes long-term, close involvement both with the Australian National Tertiary Education Union and with the Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney, a grassroots refugee rights group. He has written for The Guardian, Jacobin, Al Jazeera English, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and many other publications. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/27/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 28 seconds
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Itamar Rabinovich, "Middle Eastern Maze: Israel, the Arabs and the Region" (Brookings Institution Press, 2023)

Navigating through the intricate web of Middle Eastern geopolitics, few are better equipped to provide insights than Itamar Rabinovich in his compelling book, Middle Eastern Maze: Israel, The Arabs, and the Region 1948-2022 (Brookings Institution Press, 2023). In this update to his earlier work, The Lingering Conflict published by Brookings in 2012, Rabinovich delves deeper, and informs readers on the recent twists and turns of the Middle East conflict. With a storied career as both an academic historian and a diplomat — notably, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S and a peace negotiator with Syria — Rabinovich brings a unique blend of scholarly rigor and real-world experience. This allows him to place Arab-Israeli dynamics not just as a standalone issue but within the broader canvas of Middle Eastern regional and international politics. A significant highlight of the book is Rabinovich's attention to the evolving roles of regional powerhouses Iran and Turkey. However, his analysis doesn't stop there. The United States, being a global superpower with intricate ties to the Middle East, gets its due attention, especially its special relationship with Israel and the transitions in its Middle Eastern policy from the Trump era to the Biden administration. The book is timely and relevant, covering pivotal moments and shifts, such as: The groundbreaking Abraham Accords signified a fresh direction in Arab-Israeli relations. Russia’s decisive military intervention exacerbated the tumultuous Syrian civil war and its far-reaching implications. The rise and subsequent decline of the formidable Islamic State. The mounting tensions surrounding the Iranian nuclear ambitions. And lastly, Israel's own internal challenges marked by prolonged political instability. For those seeking a nuanced understanding of Middle Eastern geopolitics and the ever-evolving Arab-Israeli relationship, Middle Eastern Maze promises to be an instructive read, enriched by the author's unique vantage point at the intersection of history, diplomacy, and contemporary politics. Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at [email protected]. She's on Twitter @embracingwisdom. She blogs here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/25/202341 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Israeli Defense Force (IDF)'s Ethical Code

In the past week, the entire world has been focusing on the murderous attack by the Hamas organization against the State of Israel and Israel's response to these actions. Hamas has killed 1,300 civilians and soldiers, including children, the elderly, and women. Furthermore, the methods used by Hamas in their killings have displayed an unprecedented level of cruelty, including acts of desecration of the living and the dead, sexual violence, and harming children. Additionally, they have abducted 199 civilians and soldiers. Hamas proudly boasted about these actions, publishing videos on their Telegram channel, exposing the world to their brutality.  Israel's response was swift, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launching airstrikes of an intensity not seen before, and there is also the possibility of a ground incursion into Gaza. The IDF takes pride in being a moral army, and to ensure this, several philosophers and theologians have written the IDF's ethical code, which every soldier and officer carries in their pocket. Due to the criticism and intense debates surrounding the conduct of the moral army, I have invited Professor Noam Zohar, who was part of the advisory committee for writing the code, especially focusing on the 'Purity of Arms' section. Together, we will embark on a journey to discuss questions of ethics and warfare in the Israeli military context. Professor Noam Zohar is a distinguished scholar celebrated for his pivotal role in advising the development of the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) new ethical code, with a particular focus on the critical concept of 'Purity of Arms.' He serves as a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute and is a member of the Military Ethics Research Team. At Bar-Ilan University, he holds the position of Associate Professor of Jewish Philosophy, chairs the General Philosophy department, and directs the graduate program in bioethics. His research and teaching encompass a wide array of fields, including rabbinics, philosophy of halakhah, moral and political philosophy, and applied ethics, with a specific emphasis on bioethics and moral considerations in warfare. Professor Zohar's notable publications include Quality of Life in Jewish Bioethics (Lexington Books, 2006) and Alternatives in Jewish Bioethics (State University of New York Press, 1997). He is also the co-editor of the four-volume work The Jewish Political Tradition, alongside Shalom Hartman Institute fellow Menachem Lorberbaum and Michael Walzer. Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He can be reached at: [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/24/202352 minutes, 20 seconds
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Özge Yaka, "Fighting for the River: Gender, Body, and Agency in Environmental Struggles" (U California Press, 2023)

Fighting for the River: Gender, Body, and Agency in Environmental Struggles (U California Press, 2023) portrays women's intimate, embodied relationships with river waters and explores how those relationships embolden local communities' resistance to private run-of-the-river hydroelectric power plants in Turkey. Building on extensive ethnographic research, Özge Yaka develops a body-centered, phenomenological approach to women's environmental activism and combines it with a relational ontological perspective. In this way, the book pushes beyond the "natural resources" frame to demonstrate how our corporeal connection to nonhuman entities is constitutive of our more-than-human lifeworld. Fighting for the River takes the human body as a starting point to explore the connection between lived experience and nonhuman environments, treating bodily senses and affects as the media of more-than-human connectivity and political agency. Analyzing local environmental struggles as struggles for coexistence, Yaka frames human-nonhuman relationality as a matter of socio-ecological justice. Özge Yaka is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Geographical Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin. Alize Arıcan is a Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Scholar at Boston University and an incoming Assistant Professor of Anthropology at CUNY—City College, focusing on urban renewal, futurity, care, and migration. You can find her on Twitter @alizearican. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/23/202354 minutes, 32 seconds
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Noa Shaindlinger, "Displacement and Erasure in Palestine: The Politics of Hope" (Edinburgh UP, 2023)

Noa Shaindlinger's Displacement and Erasure in Palestine: The Politics of Hop (Edinburgh UP, 2023) explores the ways in which Palestinians negotiate physical and symbolic erasures by producing their own archives and historical narratives. With a focus on the city of Jaffa and its displaced Palestinian population, Noa Shaindlinger argues that the Israeli state ‘buried’ histories of mass expulsions and spatial appropriations. Based on a wide-variety of sources, this book brings together archival, literary, ethnographic and oral research to engage with ideas of settler colonialism and the production of history, violence and memory, refugee-hood and diaspora. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/22/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 9 seconds
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Melissa Weininger, "Beyond the Land: Diaspora Israeli Culture in the Twenty-First Century" (Wayne State UP, 2023)

In her book, Beyond the Land: Diaspora Israeli Culture in the Twenty-First Century (Wayne State University Press, 2023), Melissa Weininger theorizes a new category of "diaspora Israeli culture" that is formed around and through notions of homeland and complicates the binary between diaspora and Israel. The works addressed here inhabit and imagine diaspora from the vantage point of the putative homeland, engaging both diasporic and Zionist models simultaneously through language, geography, and imagination. These examples contend with the existence of the state of Israel and its complex implications for diaspora Jewish identities and nationalisms, as well as the implications for Zionism of those diasporic conceptions of Jewish national identity. This dynamic understanding of both an Israeli and a Jewish diaspora works to envision a non-hegemonic Jewish nationalism that can negotiate both political imagination and reality. Melissa Weininger is an assistant professor of Jewish studies at California State University, Northridge. Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Jewish Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/21/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 30 seconds
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The Unquiet Legacy of Jewish Radical Meir Kahane

In the wake of the massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas in October, 2023 I spoke with Shaul Magid, author of Meir Kahane: The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Jewish Radical (Princeton University Press, 2021). A visiting professor of modern Jewish studies at Harvard Divinity School, Magid also is rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogue in Sea View, N.Y. Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League in the late 1960s, was assassinated in New York in 1990 yet, as Magid told me, and as his perceptive book demonstrates, his legacy lives on. Kahane was an exponent of a “militant post-Zionist apocalytpticism,” in Magid’s term, and he lived by an ethos of revenge—in Hebrew, Nekama. Nowadays, a kind of neo-Kahanism serves as an agitating ideology for a faction of Israelis who revere Kahane and keep his memory and uncompromising pronouncements alive. And as Magid explains, the neo-Kahane vision presents a stark challenge to a liberal, democratic Zionism that Kahane himself detested. Veteran journalist Paul Starobin is a former Moscow bureau chief for Business Week and a former contributing editor of The Atlantic. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. His latest book, Putin’s Exiles: Their Fight for a Better Russia (Columbia Global Reports) will be published in January. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/19/202345 minutes, 38 seconds
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Anna Ziajka Stanton, "The Worlding of Arabic Literature: Language, Affect, and the Ethics of Translatability" (Fordham UP, 2023)

Critics have long viewed translating Arabic literature into English as an ethically fraught process of mediating between two wholly incommensurable languages, cultures, and literary traditions. Today, Arabic literature is no longer “embargoed” from Anglophone cultural spaces, as Edward Said once famously claimed that it was. As Arabic literary works are translated into English in ever-greater numbers, what alternative model of translation ethics can account for this literature’s newfound readability in the hegemonic language of the world literary system? Anna Ziajka Stanton's book The Worlding of Arabic Literature: Language, Affect, and the Ethics of Translatability (Fordham UP, 2023) argues that an ethical translation of a work of Arabic literature is one that transmits the literariness of the source text by engaging new populations of readers via a range of embodied and sensory effects. The book proposes that when translation is conceived of not as an exchange of semantic content but as a process of converting the affective forms of one language into those of another, previously unrecognized modalities of worldliness open up to the source text. In dialogue with a rich corpus of Arabic aesthetic and linguistic theory as well as contemporary scholarship in affect theory, translation theory, postcolonial theory, and world literature studies, this book offers a timely and provocative investigation of how an important literary tradition enters the world literary system. Anna Ziajka Stanton is Caroline D. Eckhardt Early Career Professor of Comparative Literature and Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University. She has published articles in the Journal of Arabic Literature, Philological Encounters, the Journal of World Literature, the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, and Middle Eastern Literatures. Stanton is the translator of Hilal Chouman’s Limbo Beirut, which was longlisted for the 2017 PEN Translation Prize and shortlisted for the 2017 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. She has been an editor at the Journal of Arabic Literature since 2014. Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/18/202337 minutes, 38 seconds
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The Gaza War in Military-Historical Perspective

In this interview military historian Jeremy Black examines ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip in historical perspective. Black is the author of Insurgency Warfare: A Global History to the Present (Rowman & Littlefield, 2023).  Charles Coutinho, PH. D., Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/16/202319 minutes, 56 seconds
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Jonathan Downs, "Discovery at Rosetta: Revealing Ancient Egypt" (American University in Cairo Press, 2020)

In 1798, young French general Napoleon Bonaparte entered Egypt with a veteran army and a specialist group of savants—scientists, engineers, and artists—his aim being not just conquest, but the rediscovery of the lost Nile kingdom. A year later, in the ruins of an old fort in the small port of Rosetta, the savants made a startling discovery: a large, flat stone, inscribed in Greek, demotic Egyptian, and ancient hieroglyphics. This was the Rosetta Stone, key to the two-thousand-year mystery of hieroglyphs, and to Egypt itself. Two years later, French forces retreated before the English and Ottoman armies, but would not give up the stone. Caught between the opposing generals at the siege of Alexandria, British special agents went in to find the Rosetta Stone, rescue the French savants, and secure a fragile peace treaty. Jonathan Downs' book Discovery at Rosetta: Revealing Ancient Egypt (American University in Cairo Press, 2020) uses French, Egyptian, and English eyewitness accounts to tell the complete story of the discovery, decipherment, and capture of the Rosetta Stone, investigating the rivalries and politics of the time, and the fate of the stone today. Madhumanti Datta completed her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Southern California, USA. Her primary research area is the syntax of human languages, focussing on what possible and impossible structures in human language tell us about how linguistic structures are built, how meaning is represented and about the knowledge of grammar that speakers of a language intuitively possess. She is interested in issues surrounding language, both from the social and cultural perspective as well as from the biological perspective of language as a window into human cognition. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/15/202358 minutes, 7 seconds
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Valentina Marcella, "Laughing Matters: Graphic Satire Reckoning with the 1980 Coup in Turkey" (Istituto per l’Oriente C. A. Nallino, 2022)

Valentina Marcella's Laughing Matters: Graphic Satire Reckoning with the 1980 Coup in Turkey (Istituto per l’Oriente C. A. Nallino 2022) focuses on the production of political cartoons in Turkey in the context of authoritarianism and repression that was brought about by the coup d’état of September 12 1980, and by the military rule that followed. It builds on theories of political satire as an active element of political culture. Political cartoons serve as the lens through which the evolution of the political space under the regime is explored. The analysis revolves around Gırgır, the satirical magazine that in the decade prior to the coup had already contributed to the emergence of a socially and politically critical field with its politically engaged columns and illustrations and that, during the regime, became the best-selling weekly at a national level. Two main issues are investigated. On the one hand, how Gırgır’s satire survived under a regime that, in its attempt to turn citizens into a homogeneous, uniform, and apolitical society, came to repress any possibility of criticism. On the other hand, how an alternative political response was elaborated through the cartoons by civil society and intellectuals in reaction to authoritarianism. Overall, the book contributes to the study of the military regime of the early 1980s, of satire in Turkey, of censorship, and of the strategies of dissent in authoritarian regimes. Reuben Silverman is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/12/202350 minutes, 39 seconds
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Paraska Tolan-Szkilnik, "Maghreb Noir: The Militant-Artists of North Africa and the Struggle for a Pan-African, Postcolonial Future" (Stanford UP, 2023)

Upon their independence, Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian governments turned to the Global South and offered military and financial aid to Black liberation struggles. Tangier and Algiers attracted Black American and Caribbean artists eager to escape American white supremacy; Tunis hosted African filmmakers for the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage; and young freedom fighters from across the African continent established military training camps in Morocco. North Africa became a haven for militant-artists, and the region reshaped postcolonial cultural discourse through the 1960s and 1970s. Paraska Tolan-Szkilnik's book Maghreb Noir: The Militant-Artists of North Africa and the Struggle for a Pan-African, Postcolonial Future (Stanford UP, 2023) dives into the personal and political lives of these militant-artists, who collectively challenged the neo-colonialist structures and the authoritarianism of African states. Drawing on Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English sources, as well as interviews with the artists themselves, Paraska Tolan-Szkilnik expands our understanding of Pan-Africanism geographically, linguistically, and temporally. This network of militant-artists departed from the racial solidarity extolled by many of their nationalist forefathers, instead following in the footsteps of their intellectual mentor, Frantz Fanon. They argued for the creation of a new ideology of continued revolution—one that was transnational, trans-racial, and in defiance of the emerging nation-states. Maghreb Noir establishes the importance of North Africa in nurturing these global connections—and uncovers a lost history of grassroots collaboration among militant-artists from across the globe. Paraska Tolan-Szkilnik is assistant professor of history at Cornell University. Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/11/202342 minutes, 14 seconds
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Rhoda Kanaaneh, "The Right Kind of Suffering: Gender, Sexuality, and Arab Asylum Seekers in America" (U Texas Press, 2023)

From the overloaded courts with their constantly changing dates and appointments to the need to prove oneself the “right" kind of asylum seeker, the asylum system in the United States is an exacting and drawn-out immigration process that itself results in suffering. When anthropologist Rhoda Kanaaneh became a volunteer interpreter for Arab asylum seekers, she discovered how applicants learned to craft a specific narrative to satisfy the system's requirements. Kanaaneh tells the stories of four Arab asylum seekers who sought protection in the United States on the basis of their gender or sexuality: Saud, who relived painful memories of her circumcision and police harassment in Sudan and then learned to number and sequence these recollections; Fatima, who visited doctors and therapists in order to document years of spousal abuse without over-emphasizing her resulting mental illness; Fadi, who highlighted the homophobic motivations that provoked his arrest and torture in Jordan, all the while omitting connected issues of class and racism; and Marwa, who showcased her private hardships as a lesbian in a Shiite family in Lebanon and downplayed her environmental activism. The Right Kind of Suffering: Gender, Sexuality, and Arab Asylum Seekers in America (U Texas Press, 2023) is a compelling portrait of Arab asylum seekers whose success stories stand in contrast with those whom the system failed. Rhoda Kanaaneh has taught anthropology and gender and sexuality studies at Columbia University, American University, New York University, and Fordham University. She is the editor of Displaced at Home: Ethnicity and Gender Among Palestinians in Israel and author of Surrounded: Palestinian Soldiers in the Israeli Military and Birthing the Nation: Strategies of Palestinian Women in Israel. Alize Arıcan is a Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Scholar at Boston University and an incoming Assistant Professor of Anthropology at CUNY—City College, focusing on urban renewal, futurity, care, and migration. You can find her on Twitter @alizearican. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/10/202344 minutes, 37 seconds
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Gültan Kışanak, "The Purple Color of Kurdish Politics: Women Politicians Write from Prison" (Pluto Press, 2022)

The Purple Color of Kurdish Politics: Women Politicians Write from Prison (Pluto Press, 2022) is a one-of-a-kind collection of prison writings from more than 20 Kurdish women politicians. Here they reflect on their personal and collective struggles against patriarchy and anti-Kurdish repression in Turkey; on the radical feminist principles and practices through which they transformed the political structures and state offices in which they operated. They discuss what worked and what didn't, and the ways in which Turkey's anti-capitalist and socialist movements closely informed their political stances and practices. Demonstrating Kurdish women's ceaseless political determination and refusal to be silenced - even when behind bars - the book ultimately hopes to inspire women living under even the most unjust conditions to engage in collective resistance. Gültan Kışanak is a longtime journalist, politician and anticolonial feminist activist for Kurdish liberation, who was elected to Parliament in 2007 as the MP from Diyarbakır. In 2016 she was arrested and charged with 'being a member of an armed illegal organization', for which she was sentenced to over 14 years imprisonment. Deniz Yonucu is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the School of Geography, Politics, and Sociology at Newcastle University. Her work focuses on counterinsurgency, policing and security, surveillance, left-wing and anti-colonial resistance, memory, racism, and emerging digital control technologies. Her book, Police, Provocation, Politics Counterinsurgency in Istanbul (Cornell University Press, 2022), presents a counterintuitive analysis of policing, focusing particular attention on the incitement of counterviolence and perpetual conflict by state security apparatus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/10/202353 minutes, 13 seconds
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Benoît Challand, "Violence and Representation in the Arab Uprisings" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Providing a longue durée perspective on the Arab uprisings of 2011, Benoît Challand narrates the transformation of citizenship in the Arab Middle East, from a condition of latent citizenship in the colonial and post-independence era to the revolutionary dynamics that stimulated democratic participation. Considering the parallel histories of citizenship in Yemen and Tunisia, Challand develops innovative theories of violence and representation that view cultural representations as calls for a decentralized political order and democratic accountability over the security forces. He argues that a new collective imaginary emerged in 2011 when the people represented itself as the only legitimate power able to decide when violence ought to be used to protect all citizens from corrupt power. Shedding light upon uprisings in Yemen and Tunisia, but also elsewhere in the Middle East, Violence and Representation in the Arab Uprisings (Cambridge UP, 2023) offers deeper insights into conceptions of violence, representation, and democracy. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/9/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 52 seconds
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Seth L. Sanders, "From Adapa to Enoch: Scribal Culture and Religious Vision in Judea and Babylonia" (Mohr Siebeck, 2017)

In From Adapa to Enoch: Scribal Culture and Religious Vision in Judea and Babylonia (Mohr Siebeck, 2017), Seth L. Sanders offers a history of first-millennium scribes through their heavenly journeys and heroes, treating the visions of ancient Mesopotamian and Judean literature as pragmatic things made by people. He presents each scribal culture as an individual institution via detailed evidence for how visionary figures were used over time. The author also provides the first comprehensive survey of direct evidence for contact between Babylonian, Hebrew, and Aramaic scribal cultures, when and how they came to share key features. Rather than irrecoverable religious experience, he shows how ideal scribal selves were made available through rituals documented in texts and institutions that made these roles durable. The result is as much a history of science as a history of mysticism, providing insight into how knowledge of the universe was created in ancient times. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/6/20231 hour, 25 minutes, 41 seconds
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Zeynep K. Korkman, "Gendered Fortunes: Divination, Precarity, and Affect in Postsecular Turkey" (Duke UP, 2023)

In Gendered Fortunes: Divination, Precarity, and Affect in Postsecular Turkey (Duke UP, 2023), Zeynep K. Korkman examines Turkey’s commercial fortunetelling cafés where secular Muslim women and LGBTIQ individuals navigate the precarities of twenty-first-century life. Criminalized by long-standing secularist laws and disdained by contemporary Islamist government, fortunetelling cafés proliferate in part because they offer shelter from the conservative secularist, Islamist, neoliberal, and gender pressures of the public sphere. Korkman shows how fortunetelling is a form of affective labor through which its participants build intimate feminized publics in which they share and address their hopes and fears. Korkman uses feeling—which is how her interlocutors describe the divination process—as an analytic to view the shifting landscape of gendered vulnerability in Turkey. In so doing, Korkman foregrounds “feeling” as a feminist lens to explore how those who are pushed to the margins feel their way through oppressive landscapes to create new futures. Zeynep K. Korkman is Associate Professor of Gender Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Armanc Yildiz is a postdoctoral researcher at Humboldt University. He received his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at Harvard University, with a secondary degree in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. He is also the founder of Academics Write, where he supports scholars in their writing projects as a writing coach and developmental editor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/5/202345 minutes, 12 seconds
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Katrin Nahidi, "The Cultural Politics of Art in Iran: Modernism, Exhibitions, and Art Production" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Modernist Iranian art represents a highly diverse field of cultural production deeply involved in discussing questions of modernity and modernization as practiced in Iran. This book investigates how artistic production and art criticism reflected upon the discourse about gharbzadegi (westoxification), the most substantial critique of Iran's adaptation of Western modernity, and ultimately proved to be a laboratory for the negotiation of an anti-colonial concept of an Iranian artistic modernity, which artists and critics envisioned as a significant other to Western colonial modernity.  In The Cultural Politics of Art in Iran: Modernism, Exhibitions, and Art Production (Cambridge UP, 2023), Katrin Nahidi revisits Iranian modernist art, aiming to explore a political and contextualized interpretation of modernism. Based on extensive fieldwork, interviews, and archival research, Nahidi provides a history of modernist art production since the 1950s and reveals the complex political agency underlying art historiographical processes. Offering a key contribution to postcolonial art history, Nahidi shows how Iranian artistic modernity was used to flesh out anti-colonial concepts and ideas around Iranian national identity. Kaveh Rafie is a PhD candidate specializing in modern and contemporary art at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His dissertation charts the course of modern art in the late Pahlavi Iran (1941-1979) and explores the extent to which the 1953 coup marks the recuperation of modern art as a viable blueprint for cultural globalization in Iran. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
10/4/20231 hour, 5 minutes, 37 seconds
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Michelle Karnes, "Medieval Marvels and Fictions in the Latin West and Islamic World" (U Chicago Press, 2022)

Marvels like enchanted rings and sorcerers’ stones were topics of fascination in the Middle Ages, not only in romance and travel literature but also in the period’s philosophical writing. Rather than constructions of belief accepted only by simple-minded people, Michelle Karnes shows that these spectacular wonders were near impossibilities that demanded scrutiny and investigation. Medieval Marvels and Fictions in the Latin West and Islamic World (U Chicago Press, 2022) is the first book to analyze a diverse set of writings on such wonders, comparing texts from the Latin West—including those written in English, French, Italian, and Castilian Spanish —with those written in Arabic as it works toward a unifying theory of marvels across different disciplines and cultures. Karnes tells a story about the parallels between Arabic and Latin thought, reminding us that experiences of the strange and the unfamiliar travel across a range of genres, spanning geographical and conceptual space and offering an ideal vantage point from which to understand intercultural exchange. Karnes traverses this diverse archive, showing how imagination imbues marvels with their character and power, making them at once enigmatic, creative, and resonant. Skirting the distinction between the real and unreal, these marvels challenge readers to discover the highest capabilities of both nature and the human intellect. Karnes offers a rare comparative perspective and a new methodology to study a topic long recognized as central to medieval culture. Michelle Karnes is professor of English and the history of philosophy and science at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages and the coeditor of Studies in the Age of Chaucer. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/30/202331 minutes, 24 seconds
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Seema Alavi, "Sovereigns of the Sea: Omani Ambition in the Age of Empire" (India Allen Lane, 2023)

It’s one of the strange artifacts of history that Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, was once controlled by the Sultanate of Oman. In 1832, then Sultan Sayyid Saïd bin Sultan al-Busaidi made the island his capital, with the empire split in two upon his death: one based in Muscat, one based in Zanzibar. As Seema Alavi notes in her history, Sovereigns of the Sea: Omani Ambition in the Age of Empire (India Allen Lane, 2023), the Omanis extended their reach across the Indian Ocean, preserving their autonomy in the age of European empire–particularly, and perhaps awkwardly, regarding the slave trade. Seema Alavi is a professor of history at Ashoka University, Sonipat, Haryana. In 2010, she was at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard as the William Bentinck-Smith Fellow. She has written books on the military, medical and religious histories of India, including Muslim Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Empire (Harvard University Press: 2015) Today, Seema and I talk about Zanzibar, the slave trade, and what the Omani Sultanate tells us about the international system in the age of empire. You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Sovereigns of the Sea. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at@nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/28/202354 minutes, 21 seconds
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Brian Ulrich, "The Medieval Persian Gulf" (ARC Humanities Press, 2023)

The Persian Gulf today is home to multiple cosmopolitan urban hubs of globalization. This did not start with the discovery of oil. The Medieval Persian Gulf (ARC Humanities Press, 2023) tells of the Gulf from the rise of Islam until the coming of the Portuguese, when port cities such as Siraf, Sohar, and Hormuz were entrepots for trading pearls, horses, spices, and other products across much of Asia and eastern Africa. Indeed, products traded there became a key part of the material culture of medieval Islamic civilization, and the Gulf region itself was a crucial membrane between the Middle East and the world of the broader Indian Ocean. The book also highlights the long-term presence of communities of South Asian and African ancestry, as well as patterns of religious change among Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Muslims that belie the image of a region long polarized between Arabs and Persians and Sunnis and Shi'ites. Brian J. Ulrich is a Professor of History at Shippensburg University. His interests include early Islamic history and the history of the Gulf. He has published on early Islamic history and worked with the archaeological excavations at Kazima in Kuwait. He is the author of Arabs in the Early Islamic Empire: Exploring al Azd Tribal Identity (Edinburgh University Press, 2019). Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/27/20231 hour, 23 minutes, 14 seconds
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Timur Warner Hammond, "Placing Islam: Geographies of Connection in Twentieth-Century Istanbul" (U California Press, 2023)

For centuries, the Mosque of Eyüp Sultan has been one of Istanbul’s most important pilgrimage destinations, in large part because of the figure buried in the tomb at its center: Halid bin Zeyd Ebû Eyûb el-Ensârî, a Companion of the Prophet Muhammad.  In Placing Islam: Geographies of Connection in Twentieth-Century Istanbul (University of California Press, 2023), Timur Hammond argues here, however, that making a geography of Islam involves considerably more. Following practices of storytelling and building projects from the final years of the Ottoman Empire to the early 2010s, Placing Islam shows how different individuals and groups articulated connections among people, places, traditions, and histories to make a place that is paradoxically defined by both powerful continuities and dynamic relationships to the city and wider world. This book provides a rich account of urban religion in Istanbul, offering a key opportunity to reconsider how we understand the changing cultures of Islam in Turkey and beyond. Reuben Silverman is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/27/202353 minutes, 16 seconds
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Tylor Brand, "Famine Worlds: Life at the Edge of Suffering in Lebanon's Great War" (Stanford UP, 2023)

World War I was a catastrophe for the lands that would become Lebanon. With war came famine, and with famine came unspeakable suffering, starvation, and mass death. For nearly four years the deadly crisis reshaped society, killing untold thousands and transforming how people lived, how they interacted, and even how they saw the world around them. Famine Worlds: Life at the Edge of Suffering in Lebanon's Great War (Stanford UP, 2023) peers out at the famine through their eyes, from the wealthy merchants and the dwindling middle classes, to those perishing in the streets. Tylor Brand draws on memoirs, diaries, and correspondence to explore how people negotiated the famine and its traumas. Many observers depicted society in collapse-the starving poor became wretched victims and the well-fed became villains or heroes for the judgment of their peers. He shows how individual struggles had social effects. The famine altered beliefs and behaviors, and those in turn influenced social relationships, policies, and even the historical memory of generations to come. More than simply a chronicle of the Great Famine, however, Famine Worlds offers a profound meditation on what it means to live through such collective trauma, and how doing so shapes the character of a society. Brand shows that there are consequences to living amid omnipresent suffering and death. A crisis like the Great Famine is transformative in ways we cannot comprehend. It not only reshapes the lives and social worlds of those who suffer, it creates a particular rationality that touches the most fundamental parts of our being, even down to the ways we view and interact with each other. We often assume that if we were thrust into historic calamity that we would continue to behave compassionately. Famine Worlds questions such confidence, providing a lesson that could not be more timely. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/20/20231 hour, 23 minutes, 41 seconds
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Kevin Funk, "Rooted Globalism: Arab–Latin American Business Elites and the Politics of Global Imaginaries" (Indiana UP, 2022)

Triumphant capitalism has in our time engendered a new global class that lives and works in a borderless world, beyond the reach of national politics or sovereign power. Or has it? In Rooted Globalism: Arab-Latin American Business Elites and the Politics of Global Imaginaries (Indiana University Press, 2022), Kevin Funk challenges the commonsensical view that today members of a global capitalist class have little or no need of national loyalty. Teasing the global apart from the transnational and de-national, Funk delineates a global capitalist ideal type, which he adopts as a heuristic for study of Arab-Latin American business elites. Through relational interviews he shows that global capitalism’s ostensible new class might be more rooted in place than either those who champion its achievements or who reluctantly take its existence for granted would have us believe. Evidence of a global capitalist class consciousness, he explains on this episode of New Books in Interpretive Political and Social Science, is hard to find. This is happy news, for two reasons. First, if business elites are subject to national politics after all then they can be taxed and regulated. Second, if global capitalism is less hegemonic and more fragmented than both its cheerleaders and critics say it is then it is vulnerable — not only to nativism and anti-globalism, but more optimistically to a different type of globalism from the one currently represented in airport terminals and business magazines. And if global capitalism is vulnerable then another globalism is possible. Nick Cheesman is associate professor in the Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University where he co-convenes the Interpretation, Method, Critique network; and, a committee member of the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group of the American Political Science Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/20/202355 minutes, 41 seconds
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Elyse Semerdjian, "Remnants: Embodied Archives of the Armenian Genocide" (Stanford UP, 2023)

Foremost among the images of the Armenian Genocide is the specter of tattooed Islamized Armenian women. Blue tribal tattoos that covered face and body signified assimilation into Muslim Bedouin and Kurdish households. Among Armenians, the tattooed survivor was seen as a living ethnomartyr or, alternatively, a national stain, and the bodies of women and children figured centrally within the Armenian communal memory and humanitarian imaginary. In Remnants: Embodied Archives of the Armenian Genocide (Stanford UP, 2023), these tattooed and scar-bearing bodies reveal a larger history, as the lived trauma of genocide is understood through bodies, skin, and-in what remains of those lives a century afterward-bones. With this book, Elyse Semerdjian offers a feminist reading of the Armenian Genocide. She explores how the Ottoman Armenian communal body was dis-membered, disfigured, and later re-membered by the survivor community. Gathering individual memories and archival fragments, she writes a deeply personal history, and issues a call to break open the archival record in order to embrace affect and memory. Traces of women and children rescued during and after the war are reconstructed to center the quietest voices in the historical record. This daring work embraces physical and archival remnants, the imprinted negatives of once living bodies, as a space of radical possibility within Armenian prosthetic memory and a necessary way to recognize the absence that remains. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/20/20231 hour, 24 minutes, 44 seconds
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Vincent Lemire, "In the Shadow of the Wall: The Life and Death of Jerusalem's Maghrebi Quarter, 1187-1967" (Stanford UP, 2023)

The Maghrebi Quarter of Jerusalem long sat in the shadow of the Western Wall, the last vestige of the Second Temple. Three days after the June '67 War, Israeli forces razed the Quarter, its narrow alleys widened and homes removed, to create the Western Wall Plaza. With In the Shadow of the Wall: The Life and Death of Jerusalem's Maghrebi Quarter, 1187-1967 (Stanford UP, 2023), Vincent Lemire offers the first history of the Maghrebi Quarter—spanning 800 years from its founding by Saladin in 1187 to house North African Muslim pilgrims through to its destruction. To bring this vanished district back to life, Lemire gathers its now-scattered documentation in the archives of Muslim pious foundations in Jerusalem and the Red Cross in Geneva, in Ottoman archives in Istanbul and Israeli state archives. He engages testimonies of former residents and looks to recent archaeological digs that have resurfaced household objects buried during the destruction. Today, the Western Wall Plaza extends over the former Maghrebi Quarter. It is one of the most identifiable places in the world—yet one of the most occluded in history. In the Shadow of the Wall offers a new point of entry to understand this consequential place. Vincent Lemire also led the Open Jerusalem Project and working with Italy's University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Lemire developed a mobile application allowing people to stroll through each alley. The app is available both for Apple and Android devices. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/19/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 5 seconds
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Anthony Gad Bigio, "A Sephardi Turkish Patriot: Gad Franco in the Turmoil of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic" (Hamilton Books, 2023)

In A Sephardi Turkish Patriot: Gad Franco in the Turmoil of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic (Hamilton Books, 2023), Anthony Gad Bigio explores the life of Gad Franco (1881–1954), a prominent Sephardi journalist, then a lawyer and a jurist, who worked relentlessly for the Jewish community’s belonging to the national Turkish polity, and for the consolidation of the rule of law. This historical biography, written by his grandson, takes the reader from fin-de-siècle Izmir, to the Istanbul of the Roaring Twenties and beyond, tracing his footsteps, including his opposition to Zionism, which he considered a threat to assimilation. The world of Sephardi Jewry, the convulsions and conflicts of the late Ottoman Empire, and the birth, ruthless consolidation, and promising reforms of the young Turkish Republic, provide the context to his intriguing life story. Inflamed by ethno-nationalism, the harassment of minorities deepened in the 1930s, peaking during World War II. By then a wealthy, respected Jewish community spokesperson and staunch Kemalist, Gad Franco was dealt an exemplary punishment in a shocking campaign to Turkify the economy, imposed on all minorities. His dramatic downfall at the hands of the Government shook his beliefs to the core. As their belonging to the nation had been so brutally denied, half of Turkish Jews migrated to Israel in the 1950s, putting an end to Gad Franco’s lifelong hopes of integration and acceptance. Reuben Silverman is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/17/202357 minutes, 26 seconds
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Peter Adamson, "Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna): a Very Short Introduction" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Peter Adamson's book Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna): a Very Short Introduction (Oxford UP, 2023) provides an introduction to the most important philosopher of the Islamic world, Ibn Sīnā, often known in English by his Latinized name Avicenna. After introducing the man and his works, with an overview of the historical context in which he lived, the book devotes chapters to the different areas of Ibn Sīnā's thought. Among the topics covered are his innovations in logic, his theory of the human soul and its powers, the relation between his medical writings and his philosophy, and his metaphysics of existence. Particular attention is given to two famous arguments: his flying man thought experiment and the so-called “demonstration of the truthful,” a proof for the existence of God as the Necessary Existent. A distinctive feature of the book is its attention to the relationship between Ibn Sīnā and Islamic rational theology (kalām): in which we see how Ibn Sīnā responded to this tradition in many areas of his thought. A final chapter looks at Ibn Sīnā's legacy in both the Islamic world and in Latin Christendom. Here Adamson focuses on the critical responses to Ibn Sīnā in subsequent generations by such figures as al-Ghazālī, al-Suhrawardī, and Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī. Peter Adamson is professor of Philosophy at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. He received his BA from Williams College and PhD from the University of Notre Dame. From 2000 to 2012 he was a member of the Philosophy Department at King's College London, and he maintains a connection to King's. But his primary position is now as Professor of Late Ancient and Arabic Philosophy at the LMU in Munich. The author of numerous monographs and articles on ancient and medieval philosophy, especially Neoplatonism and philosophy in the Islamic world, he also hosts the History of Philosophy podcast, which appears as a series of books with Oxford University Press. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/17/202351 minutes, 46 seconds
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Pallavi Narayan, "Pamuk's Istanbul: The Self and the City" (Routledge, 2022)

Pallavi Narayan's book Pamuk's Istanbul: The Self and the City (Routledge, 2022) reconstructs Istanbul through the prism of Orhan Pamuk’s fiction. It navigates the multiple selves and layers of Istanbul to present how the city has shaped the writings of Pamuk and has, in turn, been shaped by it. Through everyday objects and architecture, it shows how Pamuk transforms the city into a living museum where different objects converse along with characters to present a rich tapestry across space and time. Further, the monograph explores the formation of communal and literary identity within and around nation-building narratives informed by capitalism and modernization. The book also examines how Pamuk uses the postmodern city to move beyond its postmodern confines, and utilizes the theories and universes of Bakhtin, Benjamin, and Foucault to open up his fiction and radically challenge the idea of the novel. The volume will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of literature, literary theory, museum studies, architecture, and cultural studies, and especially appeal to readers of Orhan Pamuk. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/15/202351 minutes, 20 seconds
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Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, "Ancient Persia and the Book of Esther: Achaemenid Court Culture in the Hebrew Bible" (I. B. Tauris, 2023)

The Book of Esther, one of the historical books in the Torah and the Old Testament, is known as a story of community, discrimination, and human ingenuity. It’s core to the Jewish holiday of Purim, with singing, feasting, and other merriment. And it’s unique as one of the few books in the Bible that doesn’t mention God. At all. But it’s also useful as a historical document, as Lloyd Llewellyn Jones writes in his most recent book, Ancient Persia and the Book of Esther: Achaemenid Court Culture in the Hebrew Bible (I. B. Tauris, 2023). While not perhaps entirely accurate, the book refers to political divisions, court customs, and gender politics that align with what we know about Ancient Persia. In this interview, Lloyd and I talk about the Book of Esther, what it tells us about Persian history, and whether other parts of the Bible might act as good historical sources. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones holds the chair in ancient history at Cardiff University and is the director of the Ancient Iran Program for the British Institute of Persian Studies. He has published widely on ancient history. His other books include Persians: The Age of the Great Kings (Basic Books: 2022), Designs on the Past: How Hollywood Created the Ancient World (Edinburgh University Press: 2018), and Aphrodite's Tortoise: The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece (Classical Press of Wales: 2004). You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Ancient Persia and the Book of Esther. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/14/202336 minutes, 55 seconds
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Alma Rachel Heckman, "The Sultan's Communists: Moroccan Jews and the Politics of Belonging" (Stanford UP, 2020)

The Sultan's Communists: Moroccan Jews and the Politics of Belonging (Stanford UP, 2020) uncovers the history of Jewish radical involvement in Morocco's national liberation project and examines how Moroccan Jews envisioned themselves participating as citizens in a newly-independent Morocco. Closely following the lives of five prominent Moroccan Jewish Communists (Léon René Sultan, Edmond Amran El Maleh, Abraham Serfaty, Simon Lévy, and Sion Assidon), Alma Rachel Heckman describes how Moroccan Communist Jews fit within the story of mass Jewish exodus from Morocco in the 1950s and '60s, and how they survived oppressive post-independence authoritarian rule under the Moroccan monarchy to ultimately become heroic emblems of state-sponsored Muslim-Jewish tolerance. The figures at the center of Heckman's narrative stood at the intersection of colonialism, Arab nationalism, and Zionism. Their stories unfolded in a country that, upon independence from France and Spain in 1956, allied itself with the United States (and, more quietly, Israel) during the Cold War, while attempting to claim a place for itself within the fraught politics of the post-independence Arab world. The Sultan's Communists contributes to the growing literature on Jews in the modern Middle East and provides a new history of twentieth-century Jewish Morocco. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/13/20231 hour, 1 minute, 41 seconds
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Guillemette Crouzet, "Inventing the Middle East: Britain and the Persian Gulf in the Age of Global Imperialism" (McGill-Queen's UP, 2022)

The “Middle East” has long been an indispensable and ubiquitous term in discussing world affairs, yet its history remains curiously underexplored. Few question the origin of the term or the boundaries of the region, commonly understood to have emerged in the twentieth century after World War I.  In Inventing the Middle East: Britain and the Persian Gulf in the Age of Global Imperialism (McGill-Queen's UP, 2022), Guillemette Crouzet offers a new account in Inventing the Middle East. The book traces the idea of the Middle East to a century-long British imperial zenith in the Indian subcontinent and its violent overspill into the Persian Gulf and its hinterlands. Encroachment into the Gulf region began under the expansionist East India Company. It was catalyzed by Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and heightened by gunboat attacks conducted in the name of pacifying Arab “pirates.” Throughout the 1800s the British secured this crucial geopolitical arena, transforming it into both a crossroads of land and sea and a borderland guarding British India’s western flank. Establishing this informal imperial system involved a triangle of actors in London, the subcontinent, and the Gulf region itself. By the nineteenth century’s end, amid renewed waves of inter-imperial Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/12/20231 hour, 1 minute, 39 seconds
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A Better Way to Buy Books

Bookshop.org is an online book retailer that donates more than 80% of its profits to independent bookstores. Launched in 2020, Bookshop.org has already raised more than $27,000,000. In this interview, Andy Hunter, founder and CEO discusses his journey to creating one of the most revolutionary new organizations in the book world. Bookshop has found a way to retain the convenience of online book shopping while also supporting independent bookstores that are the backbones of many local communities.  Andy Hunter is CEO and Founder of Bookshop.org. He also co-created Literary Hub. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/12/202334 minutes, 29 seconds
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Muḥsin Jāsim Mūsawī, "The Arabian Nights in Contemporary World Cultures: Global Commodification, Translation, and the Culture Industry" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

The stories in the Thousand and One Nights, or the Arabian Nights, are familiar to many of us: from the tales of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and his forty thieves, to the framing story of Scheherazade telling these stories to her homicidal husband, Shahrayar.  Muḥsin Jāsim Mūsawī's The Arabian Nights in Contemporary World Cultures: Global Commodification, Translation, and the Culture Industry (Cambridge UP, 2021) offers a rich and wide-ranging analysis of the power of this collection of tales that penetrates so many cultures and appeals to such a variety of predilections and tastes. It also explores areas that were left untouched, like the decolonization of the Arabian Nights, and its archaeologies. Unique in its excavation into inroads of perception and reception, Muhsin J. al-Musawi's book unearths means of connection with common publics and learned societies. Al-Musawi shows, as never before, how the Arabian Nights has been translated, appropriated, and authenticated or abused over time, and how its reach is so expansive as to draw the attention of poets, painters, illustrators, translators, editors, musicians, political scientists like Leo Strauss, and novelists like Michel Butor, James Joyce and Marcel Proust amongst others. Making use of documentaries, films, paintings, novels and novellas, poetry, digital forums and political jargon, this book offers nuanced understanding of the perennial charm and power of this collection. Professor Muhsin al-Musawi is a literary critic and a scholar of classical and modern Arabic literature and comparative cultural studies. He taught for over two decades at universities in the Arab world before moving to Columbia University. He is the author of twenty-eight books (including four novels) and over sixty scholarly articles. He has been the editor of the Journal of Arabic Literature (Brill Academic Publishers) since 2000. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/10/202354 minutes, 54 seconds
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Peter Good, "The East India Company in Persia: Trade and Cultural Exchange in the Eighteenth Century" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

In 1747, the city of Kerman in Persia burned amidst chaos, destruction and death perpetrated by the city's own overlord, Nader Shah. After the violent overthrow of the Safavid dynasty in 1722 and subsequent foreign invasions from all sides, Persia had been in constant turmoil. One well-appointed house that belonged to the East India Company had been saved from destruction by the ingenuity of a Company servant, Danvers Graves, and his knowledge of the Company's privileges in Persia. This book explores the lived experience of the Company and its trade in Persia and how it interacted with power structures and the local environment in a time of great upheaval in Persian history. Using East India Company records and other sources, it charts the role of the Navy and commercial fleet in the Gulf, trade agreements, and the experience of Company staff, British and non-British living in and navigating conditions in 18th-century Persia. By examining the social, commercial and diplomatic history of this relationship, Peter Good's The East India Company in Persia: Trade and Cultural Exchange in the Eighteenth Century (Bloomsbury, 2022) creates a new paradigm for the study of Early Modern interactions in the Indian Ocean Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/10/202355 minutes, 40 seconds
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Salar Abdoh, "Out of Mesopotamia" (Akashic Books, 2020)

Saleh, the narrator of Out of Mesopotamia (Akashic Books, 2020), is a middle-aged Iranian journalist who moonlights as a writer for one of Iran's most popular TV shows but cannot keep himself away from the front lines in neighboring Iraq and Syria. There, the fight against the Islamic State is a proxy war, an existential battle, a declaration of faith, and, for some, a passing weekend affair. After weeks spent dodging RPGs, witnessing acts of savagery and stupidity, Saleh returns to civilian life in Tehran but finds it to be an unbearably dislocating experience. Pursued by his official handler from state security, opportunistic colleagues, and the woman who broke his heart, Saleh has reason to again flee from everyday life. Surrounded by men whose willingness to achieve martyrdom both fascinates and appalls him, Saleh struggles to make sense of himself and the turmoil in his midst. An unprecedented glimpse into "endless war" from a Middle Eastern perspective, Out of Mesopotamia follows in the tradition of the Western canon of martial writers--from Hemingway and Orwell to Tim O'Brien and Philip Caputo--but then subverts and expands upon the genre before completely blowing it apart. Drawing from his firsthand experience of being embedded with Shia militias on the ground in Iraq and Syria, Abdoh gives agency to the voiceless while offering a meditation on war that is moving, humane, darkly funny, and resonantly true. AJ Woodhams hosts the "War Books" podcast. You can subscribe on Apple here and on Spotify here. War Books is on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/3/20231 hour, 17 minutes, 20 seconds
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Davide Rodogno, "Night on Earth: A History of International Humanitarianism in the Near East, 1918–1930" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Night on Earth: A History of International Humanitarianism in the Near East, 1918–1930 (Cambridge UP, 2021) is a broad-ranging account of international humanitarian programs in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Near East from 1918 to 1930. Davide Rodogno shows that international 'relief' and 'development' were intertwined long before the birth of the United Nations with humanitarians operating in a region devastated by war and famine and in which state sovereignty was deficient. Influenced by colonial motivations and ideologies, these humanitarians attempted to reshape entire communities and nations through reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes. The book draws on the activities of a wide range of secular and religious organisations and philanthropic foundations in the US and Europe including the American Relief Administration, the American Red Cross, the Quakers, Save the Children, the Near East Relief, the American Women's Hospitals, the League of Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Eyad Houssami is a doctoral researcher focusing on ecology, agriculture, and education in post-independence Lebanon at the University of Leeds. His research and this work are supported by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council (grant number AH/R012733/1) through the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities. Houssami also works as a consultant, organization leader, writer/editor, and theatre artist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/2/20231 hour, 12 seconds
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Marion Holmes Katz, "Wives and Work: Islamic Law and Ethics Before Modernity" (Columbia UP, 2022)

In this interview, I speak with Marion Holmes Katz about her latest book Wives and Work: Islamic Law and Ethics Before Modernity (Columbia UP, 2022). This fascinating book explores the question of wives’ domestic responsibilities from a Sunni Islamic legal perspective, covering scholarship from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries. The book addresses questions such as, does the wife have the obligation to provide housework? What counts as housework? And if it is true that the wife is not obligated to perform any household labor, as many western Muslims believe, how did the Muslim tradition reconcile this ruling with the anecdote involving Fatima’s request to the Prophet Muhammad for help with household work because she is overworked? And how did Muslim scholars reconcile this idea with what they understood to be morally, culturally, or religiously correct behavior from a woman? If the wife does choose to perform housework, is she entitled to compensation from her husband?  For most Muslim scholars historically, answers to these questions involved distinguishing between ethical ideals and legal claims. Katz shows, for instance, that the discourse on women’s household labor evolves with time, context, geographical location, such that, for example, in the formative period, it was widely accepted that wives are not obligated to perform any household chores, but by the time we get to the 14th century, this doctrine is challenged. Overall, then, not only do scholarly views expectedly disagree with each other, but also, scholars are less interested in providing a set of generic rules about wifely duties and more in encouraging the fulfillment of duties as they’re understood in one’s own social location. In our conversation today, we discuss the book’s main contributions and its origins; a hadith report describing an incident about Fatima’s request to Muhammad for domestic help; what exactly domestic service means and who is required or obligated to provide it—and what that obligation means; what exactly is so ethical about household work, since this discourse is rooted in ethics for Muslim scholars; and how male scholars have historically treated domestic service. We end with some thoughts on discussions about Islamic law and domestic service from a class perspective; for example, where do poor men and poor wives fit into this discussion? What are their rights? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
9/1/20231 hour, 44 minutes, 48 seconds
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Hamid Keshmirshekan, "The Art of Iran in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries: Tracing the Modern and the Contemporary" (Edinburgh UP, 2023)

Hamid Keshmirshekan's book The Art of Iran in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries: Tracing the Modern and the Contemporary (Edinburgh UP, 2023) deals with the exploration and theorization of Modern and Contemporary art of Iran through the examination of art movements and artistic practices in relation to other cultural, social and political discourses during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It focuses on discourses and their impact on art movements and practices and aims to selectively explore certain prevailing debates in action during this time. To come to grips with the way that artistic trends in Iran can be traced within the intellectual and political landscape of the country mainly from the 1940s to the present, Keshmirshekan articulates new ideas for relating art to its wider context--whether social, cultural or political--and to bring together critical and historical evidence in order to provide an insight into current artistic concerns. The book explores these underlying themes and discourses through a series of case studies, including through close scrutiny of works of artists. Kaveh Rafie is a PhD candidate specializing in modern and contemporary art at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His dissertation charts the course of modern art in the late Pahlavi Iran (1941-1979) and explores the extent to which the 1953 coup marks the recuperation of modern art as a viable blueprint for cultural globalization in Iran. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/30/20231 hour, 18 minutes, 33 seconds
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Hans-Lukas Kieser, "When Democracy Died: The Middle East's Enduring Peace of Lausanne" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

The Treaty of Lausanne, signed in Switzerland in July 1923, officially settled the conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied forces. Not only did the Treaty establish the borders of the modern Turkish republic, but it also defined boundaries, political systems, and understandings of citizenship in the newly formed post-Ottoman nation-states. In When Democracy Died: The Middle East's Enduring Peace of Lausanne (Cambridge UP, 2023), Hans-Lukas Kieser recounts how the eight dramatic months of the Lausanne Conference concluded more than ten years of war and genocide in the late Ottoman Empire. Crucially, the Treaty was in favour of a homogeneous Turkish state in Asia Minor and became the basis for the compulsory 'unmixing of people' that facilitated the persecution of minority groups, including Armenians, Kurds, and Arabs. Not only did this significant yet oft-overlooked treaty mark the end of the League of Nations' project of self-determination and security for small peoples, but it was crucial in shaping the modern Middle East, and dictatorships in Turkey and Europe. Hans-Lukas Kieser is also the author of Talaat Pasha: Father of Modern Turkey, Architect of Genocide (Princeton UP, 2018) Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/28/20231 hour, 17 minutes, 41 seconds
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Ari Finkelstein, "The Specter of the Jews: Emperor Julian and the Rhetoric of Ethnicity in Syrian Antioch" (U California Press, 2018)

In the generation after Constantine the Great elevated Christianity to a dominant position in the Roman Empire, his nephew, the Emperor Julian, sought to reinstate the old gods to their former place of prominence--in the face of intense opposition from the newly powerful Christian church. In early 363 c.e., while living in Syrian Antioch, Julian redoubled his efforts to hellenize the Roman Empire by turning to an unlikely source: the Jews. With a war against Persia on the horizon, Julian thought it crucial that all Romans propitiate the true gods and gain their favor through proper practice. To convince his people, he drew on Jews, whom he characterized as Judeans, using their scriptures, institutions, practices, and heroes sometimes as sources for his program and often as models to emulate.  In The Specter of the Jews: Emperor Julian and the Rhetoric of Ethnicity in Syrian Antioch (U California Press, 2018), Ari Finkelstein examines Julian's writings and views on Jews as Judeans, a venerable group whose religious practices and values would help delegitimize Christianity and, surprisingly, shape a new imperial Hellenic pagan identity. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/26/20231 hour, 12 minutes
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Alice Wilson, "Afterlives of Revolution: Everyday Counterhistories in Southern Oman" (Stanford UP, 2023)

The Dhufar Revolution was fought between 1965–1976, in an attempt to depose Oman's British-backed Sultan and advance social ideals of egalitarianism and gender equality. Dhufar, the southernmost governorate in today's Sultanate, captured global attention for its revolutionaries and their liberation movement's Marxist-inspired social change. But following counterinsurgency victory, Oman's government expunged the revolution from sanctioned historical narratives.  Afterlives of Revolution: Everyday Counterhistories in Southern Oman (Stanford University Press, 2023) by Dr. Alice Wilson offers a groundbreaking study of the legacies of officially silenced revolutionaries. How do their underlying convictions survive and inspire platforms for progressive politics in the wake of disappointment, defeat, and repression? Dr. Wilson considers the "social afterlives" of revolutionary values and networks. Veteran militants have used kinship and daily socializing to reproduce networks of social egalitarianism and commemorate the revolution in unofficial ways. These afterlives revise conventional wartime and postwar histories. They highlight lasting engagement with revolutionary values, the agency of former militants in postwar modernization, and the limitations of government patronage for eliciting conformity. Recognizing that those typically depicted as coopted can still reproduce counterhegemonic values, this book considers a condition all too common across Southwest Asia and North Africa: the experience of defeated revolutionaries living under the authoritarian state they once contested. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/26/202356 minutes, 25 seconds
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Lucia Carminati. "Seeking Bread and Fortune in Port Said: Labor Migration and the Making of the Suez Canal, 1859-1906" (U California Press, 2023)

Lucia Carminati's book Seeking Bread and Fortune in Port Said: Labor Migration and the Making of the Suez Canal, 1859-1906 (U California Press, 2023) probes migrant labor's role in shaping the history of the Suez Canal and modern Egypt. It maps the everyday life of Port Said's residents between 1859, when the town was founded as the Suez Canal's northern harbor, and 1906, when a railway connected it to the rest of Egypt. Through groundbreaking research, Carminati provides a ground-level perspective on the key processes touching late nineteenth-century Egypt: heightened domestic mobility and immigration, intensified urbanization, changing urban governance, and growing foreign encroachment. By privileging migrants' prosaic lives, Seeking Bread and Fortune in Port Said shows how unevenness and inequality laid the groundwork for the Suez Canal's making. Lucia Carminati is an Associate Professor of History in the Department of Archaeology, Conservation, and History at the University of Oslo. She is a historian of migration and the modern Middle East, researching the social and cultural history of Egypt in the 19th and 20th centuries, focusing on migratory routes and mobility at large, imperial interests, and infrastructural transformations.  Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/24/202357 minutes, 48 seconds
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Christopher Harrison, "Genocidal Conscription: Drafting Victims and Perpetrators Under the Guise of War" (Lexington Books, 2023)

Christopher Harrison's book Genocidal Conscription: Drafting Victims and Perpetrators Under the Guise of War (Lexington Books, 2023) examines how some states have employed mandatory military service as a tool to capture and kill the victims of genocide by recruiting the perpetrators from other minorities, and shifting blame away from the state. The book highlights several unique intersections that connect military history, Holocaust studies, and genocide. The study details an original framework that encompasses intentions and outcomes of wartime casualties, Clausewitzian wastage, and genocidal massacres. Christopher Harrison traces and compares how two genocidal regimes at war – the Ottoman Empire during World War One and Axis-era Hungary in World War Two – implemented certain policies of military service to capture and destroy their targets amidst the carnage of modern warfare.  Following this historical comparative study, the author then summarizes relevant implications and ongoing concerns. The conclusion includes insights into conscription by contemporary authoritarian regimes. By examining these histories and crises, the book suggests that several states are at risk of carrying out genocidal conscription today. While difficult and unlikely, due to political disincentives, the implication of this analysis considers reforms which may prevent states from repeating similar policies and actions again. Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/15/20231 hour, 7 minutes, 12 seconds
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Simon Mills, "A Commerce of Knowledge: Trade, Religion, and Scholarship Between England and the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1760" (Oxford UP, 2020)

Simon Mills' book A Commerce of Knowledge: Trade, Religion, and Scholarship Between England and the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1760 (Oxford UP, 2020) tells the story of three generations of Church of England chaplains who served the English Levant Company in Syria during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Reconstructing the careers of its protagonists in the cosmopolitan city of Ottoman Aleppo, Simon Mills investigates the links between English commercial and diplomatic expansion, and English scholarly and missionary interests: the study of Middle-Eastern languages; the exploration of biblical and Greco-Roman antiquities; and the early dissemination of Protestant literature in Arabic. Early modern Orientalism is usually conceived as an episode in the history of scholarship. By shifting the focus to Aleppo, A Commerce of Knowledge brings to light the connections between the seemingly separate worlds, tracing the emergence of new kinds of philological and archaeological enquiry in England back to a series of real-world encounters between the chaplains and the scribes, booksellers, priests, rabbis, and sheikhs they encountered in the Ottoman Empire. Setting the careers of its protagonists against a background of broader developments across Protestant and Catholic Europe, Mills shows how the institutionalization of English scholarship, and the later English attempt to influence the Eastern Christian churches, were bound up with the international struggle to establish a commercial foothold in the Levant. He argues that these connections would endure until the shift of British commercial and imperial interests to the Indian subcontinent in the second half of the eighteenth century fostered new currents of intellectual life at home. Simon Mills is a senior lecturer in British and European History at Newcastle University Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/13/202352 minutes, 16 seconds
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Karen E. Rignall, "An Elusive Common: Land, Politics, and Agrarian Rurality in a Moroccan Oasis" (Cornell UP, 2021)

Karen E. Rignall's book An Elusive Common: Land, Politics, and Agrarian Rurality in a Moroccan Oasis (Cornell UP, 2021) details the fraught dynamics of rural life in the arid periphery of southeastern Morocco. Karen Rignall considers whether agrarian livelihoods can survive in the context of globalized capitalism and proposes a new way of thinking about agrarian practice, politics, and land in North Africa and the Middle East. Her book questions many of the assumptions underlying movements for land and food sovereignty, theories of the commons, and environmental governance. Global market forces, government disinvestment, political marginalization, and climate change are putting unprecedented pressures on contemporary rural life. At the same time, rural peoples are defying their exclusion by forging new economic and political possibilities. In southern Morocco, the vibrancy of rural life was sustained by creative and often contested efforts to sustain communal governance, especially of land, as a basis for agrarian livelihoods and a changing wage labor economy. An Elusive Common follows these diverse strategies ethnographically to show how land became a site for conflicts over community, political authority, and social hierarchy. Rignall makes the provocative argument that land enclosures can be an essential part of communal governance and the fight for autonomy against intrusive state power and historical inequalities. Karen E. Rignall is a Community and Leadership Development Professor at the University of Kentucky. Her research has appeared in numerous journals, including, The Journal of Peasant Studies, and Migration and Development. Alize Arıcan is a Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Scholar at Boston University and an incoming Assistant Professor of Anthropology at CUNY—City College, focusing on urban renewal, futurity, care, and migration. You can find her on Twitter @alizearican. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/12/202342 minutes, 3 seconds
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Zahi Zalloua, "Solidarity and the Palestinian Cause: Indigeneity, Blackness, and the Promise of Universality" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

Zahi Zalloua provides the first examination of Palestinian identity from the perspective of Indigeneity and Critical Black Studies. Examining the Palestinian question through the lens of settler colonialism and Indigeneity, this timely book warns against the liberal approach to Palestinian Indigeneity, which reinforces cultural domination, and urgently argues for the universal nature of the Palestinian struggle. Foregrounding Palestinian Indigeneity reframes the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a problem of wrongful dispossession, a historical harm that continues to be inflicted on the population under the brutal Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. At the same time, in a global context marked by liberal democratic ideology, such an approach leads either to liberal tolerance – the minority is permitted to exist so long as their culture can be contained within the majority order – or racial separatism, that is, appeals for national independence typically embodied in the two-state solution. Solidarity and the Palestinian Cause: Indigeneity, Blackness, and the Promise of Universality (2023 Bloomsbury Publishing PLC) not only insists that any analysis of Indigeneity's purchase must keep this problem of translation in mind, but also that we must recast the Palestinian struggle as a universal one. As demonstrated by the Palestinian support for such movements as Black Lives Matter, and the reciprocal support Palestinians receive from BLM activists, the Palestinian cause fosters a solidarity of the excluded. This solidarity underscores the interlocking, global struggles for emancipation from racial domination and economic exploitation. Drawing on key Palestinian voices, including Edward Said and Larissa Sansour, as well as a wide range of influential philosophers such as Slavoj Žižek, Frantz Fanon and Achille Mbembe, Zalloua brings together the Palestinian question, Indigeneity and Critical Black Studies to develop a transformative, anti-racist vision of the world. Zahi is Cushing Eells Professor of Philosophy and Literature, and Director of Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies at Whitman College, USA. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/11/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 37 seconds
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Yoni Furas, "Educating Palestine: Teaching and Learning History Under the Mandate" (Oxford UP, 2020)

Through the story of education and the teaching of history in Mandate Palestine, Yoni Furas reframes our understanding of the Palestinian and Zionist national movements. Educating Palestine: Teaching and Learning History Under the Mandate (Oxford UP, 2020) argues that Palestinian and Hebrew pedagogy could only be truly understood through an analysis of the conscious or unconscious dialogue between them. The conflict over Palestine, the study shows, shaped the way Arabs and Zionists thought, taught, and wrote about their past. British rule over Palestine promised the Jews a national home, but had no viable policy towards the Palestinians and established an education system that lacked a sustainable collective ethos. Nevertheless, Palestinian educators were able to produce a national pedagogy that knew how to work with the British and simultaneously promoted an ideology of progress and independence that challenged colonial rule. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/7/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 34 seconds
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Melis Hafez, "Inventing Laziness: The Culture of Productivity in Late Ottoman Society" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Neither laziness nor its condemnation are new inventions, however, perceiving laziness as a social condition that afflicts a 'nation' is. In the early modern era, Ottoman political treatises did not regard the people as the source of the state's problems. Yet in the nineteenth century, as the imperial ideology of Ottomanism and modern discourses of citizenship spread, so did the understanding of laziness as a social disease that the 'Ottoman nation' needed to eradicate. Asking what we can learn about Ottoman history over the long nineteenth-century by looking closely into the contested and shifting boundaries of the laziness - productivity binary, Melis Hafez explores how 'laziness' can be used to understand emerging civic culture and its exclusionary practices in the Ottoman Empire. A polyphonic involvement of moralists, intellectuals, polemicists, novelists, bureaucrats, and, to an extent, the public reveals the complexities and ambiguities of this multifaceted cultural transformation.  Using a wide variety of sources, Inventing Laziness: The Culture of Productivity in Late Ottoman Society (Cambridge UP, 2021) explores the sustained anxiety about productivity that generated numerous reforms as well as new understandings of morality, subjectivity, citizenship, and nationhood among the Ottomans. Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/4/20231 hour, 17 minutes, 36 seconds
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Rudi Matthee, "Angels Tapping at the Wine-Shop's Door: A History of Alcohol in the Islamic World" (Oxford UP, 2023)

When meeting an expatriate friend on my first trip to Dubai, the host at the restaurant where we were meeting quickly ushered me up to the second floor. For foreigners, he said—before handing me a wine list. Dubai’s tolerance of alcohol is a more formalized version of Muslim tolerance—and clandestine drinking—of alcohol that dates back to its very inception, despite religious commands to the contrary. Professor Rudi Matthee tells that story in Angels Tapping at the Wine-shop's Door: A History of Alcohol in the Islamic World (Oxford University Press / Hurst, 2023). In this interview, Rudi and I chat about alcohol in the Islamic world: who drank it—and how they excused their behavior—and how non-Muslims ended up being a part of the Muslim drinking world. Rudi Matthee is the John A. Munroe and Dorothy L. Munroe Chair of History at the University of Delaware. He is the author of four prize-winning monographs on Iranian history, and the editor or co-editor of another six books. He is currently President of the Persian Heritage Foundation. You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Angels Tapping at the Wine-shop's Door. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
8/3/202344 minutes, 23 seconds
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Yonatan Adler, "The Origins of Judaism: An Archaeological-Historical Reappraisal" (Yale UP, 2022)

In The Origins of Judaism: An Archaeological-Historical Reappraisal (Yale University Press, 2022), Yonatan Adler pursues the societal adoption of recognizable Jewish practices by Judeans in antiquity with the ultimate aim of establishing a particular terminus ante quem (temporal limit before which) these practices must have become widespread. Sifting through both textual and archaeological evidence for the aversion to graven images/figural artwork, dietary restrictions, synagogue worship, circumcision, the Sabbath as a day of rest, Judean festivals, and more, Adler’s “social history” demonstrates that such observances can be conclusively dated at various points within the second century BCE—but not on any meaningful scale before this crucial time of the Maccabean revolt and Israel’s brief period of Hasmonean self-rule. Adler joined the New Books Network to discuss his potentially paradigm-shifting findings, which contrast strongly with claims from the Hebrew Bible and much of biblical scholarship that, on the basis of “intellectual history,” prefer to locate Jewish origins in the postexilic Persian Achaemenid period (ca. 539–332 BCE) if not significantly earlier than this. Yonatan Adler (Ph.D., Bar-Ilan University, 2011) is Associate Professor in Archaeology at Ariel University in Israel, where he also heads its Institute of Archaeology. Adler specializes in the origins of Judaism as a system of ritual practices, and in the evolution of these practices over the long-term. Previously, his research has focused on ritual purity observance evidenced in the archaeological remains of chalk vessels and immersion pools, and he has also published extensively on ancient tefillin (phylacteries) from Qumran and elsewhere in the Judean Desert. Dr. Adler has directed excavations at several sites throughout Israel, and from 2019 to 2020 he held the appointment of Horace W. Goldsmith Visiting Associate Professor in Judaic Studies at Yale University. Rob Heaton (Ph.D., University of Denver, 2019) hosts Biblical Studies conversations for New Books in Religion and teaches New Testament, Christian origins, and early Christianity at Anderson University in Indiana. He recently authored The Shepherd of Hermas as Scriptura Non Grata: From Popularity in Early Christianity to Exclusion from the New Testament Canon (Lexington Books, 2023). For more about Rob and his work, please see his website at https://www.robheaton.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/29/20231 hour, 24 minutes, 15 seconds
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Melissa Gatter, "Time and Power in Azraq Refugee Camp: A Nine-to-Five Emergency" (American University in Cairo Press, 2023)

Azraq refugee camp, built in 2014 and host to forty thousand refugees, is one of two official humanitarian refugee camps for Syrian refugees in Jordan. Time and Power in Azraq Refugee Camp: A Nine-To-Five Emergency (American University of Cairo Press, 2023) by Dr. Melissa Gatter investigates the relationship between time and power in Azraq, asking how a politics of time shapes, limits, or enables everyday life for the displaced and for aid workers. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, carried out during 2017–2018, the book challenges the perceptions of Azraq as the ‘ideal’ refugee camp. Dr. Gatter argues that the camp operates as a ‘nine-to-five emergency’ where mundane bureaucratic procedures serve to sustain a power system in which refugees are socialized to endure a cynical wait—both for everyday services and for their return—without expectations for a better outcome. Time and Power in Azraq Refugee Camp also explores how refugees navigate this system, both in the day-to-day and over years, by evaluating various layers of waiting as they affect refugee perceptions of time in the camp—not only in the present, but the past, near future, and far future. Far from an ‘ideal’ camp, Azraq and its politics of time constitute a cruel reality in which a power system meant to aid refugees is one that suppresses, foreclosing futures that it is supposed to preserve. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/28/202357 minutes, 52 seconds
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Andrew Quilty, "August in Kabul: America's Last Days in Afghanistan" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

Told through the eyes of witnesses to the fall of Kabul, Walkley award-winning journalist Andrew Quilty's debut publication offers a remarkable record of this historic moment. August in Kabul: America's Last Days in Afghanistan (Bloomsbury, 2023) is the story of how America's longest mission came to an abrupt and humiliating end, told through the eyes of Afghans whose lives have been turned upside down: a young woman who harbors dreams of a university education; a presidential staffer who works desperately to hold things together as the government collapses around him; a prisoner in the notorious Bagram Prison who suddenly finds himself free when prison guards abandon their post. Andrew Quilty was one of a handful of Western journalists who stayed in Kabul as the city fell. This is his first-hand account of those dramatic final days. Andrew Quilty’s photography career began in Sydney, in the year 2000, on the day his application to a university photo elective was rejected. He quit, and set off around Australia with a surfboard and a Nikon F3 that his uncle—also a photographer—had passed down. His work in Afghanistan has been published worldwide and garnered accolades including, in 2019, a World Press Photo, a Picture of the Year International award of excellence in the category of Photographer of the Year (POYI), and prior to that, a George Polk Award, three POYI awards, a Sony World Photography award and six Walkley Awards, including the Gold Walkley, the highest honor in Australian journalism. In 2016, a selection of his work from Afghanistan was exhibited at the Visa pour L'Image Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan, France. He has travelled to two thirds of Afghanistan's 34 provinces and continues to document the country through pictures and, increasingly, the written word. Connor Christensen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago, pursuing both an MPP at the Harris School of Public Policy and an MA at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. His work focuses on the reintegration process of veterans of the military and non-state armed groups in contexts spanning the US, Colombia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and beyond. He is a staff writer for the Chicago Policy Review, director of projects and programs at Corioli Institute, and a contributing researcher at Trust After Betrayal. He welcomes collaboration, so feel free to reach out on LinkedIn or at his email, [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/24/202341 minutes, 1 second
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Lea Taragin-Zeller, "The State of Desire: Religion and Reproductive Politics in the Promised Land" (NYU Press, 2023)

In recent years, Israeli state policies have attempted to dissuade Orthodox Jews from creating large families, an objective that flies in the face of traditional practices in their community. As state desires to cultivate a high-income, tech-centered nation come into greater conflict with common Orthodox familial practices, Jewish couples are finding it increasingly difficult to actualize their reproductive aims and communal expectations. In The State of Desire: Religion and Reproductive Politics in the Promised Land (New York University Press, 2023), Lea Taragin-Zeller provides an intimate examination of the often devastating effects of Israel's steep cutbacks in child benefits, which are aimed at limiting the rapid increase in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish population. Taragin-Zeller takes the reader beyond Orthodox taboos, capturing how cracks in religious convictions engender a painful process of re-orientating desires to reproduce amidst shrinking public support, feminism, and new ideals of romance, intimacy and parenting. Paying close attention to ethical dilemmas, the book explores not just pro-ceptive but also contraceptive desires around family formation: when to have children, how many, and at what cost. The volume offers a rare look at issues of contraception in the Orthodox context, and notably includes interviews with men, making the case that we cannot continue to study reproductive choice solely through the perspectives of women. The State of Desire is a groundbreaking anthropological approach to the study of religion and reproduction, and a remarkably intimate account of the delicate balance between personal desires and those of the state. Lea Taragin-Zeller is Assistant Professor in the Federmann School of Public Policy and Program in Cultural Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Jewish Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/24/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 44 seconds
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Oyman Başaran, "Circumcision and Medicine in Modern Turkey" (U Texas Press, 2023)

In Turkey, circumcision is viewed as both a religious obligation and a rite of passage for young boys, as communities celebrate the ritual through gatherings, gifts, and special outfits. Yet the procedure is a potentially painful and traumatic ordeal. With the expansion of modern medicine, the social position of sünnetçi (male circumcisers) became subject to the institutional arrangements of Turkey’s evolving health care and welfare system. In the transition from traditional itinerant circumcisers to low-ranking health officers in the 1960s and hospital doctors in the 1990s, the medicalization of male circumcision has become entangled with state formation, market fetishism, and class inequalities. Based on Oyman Başaran’s extensive ethnographic and historical research, Circumcision and Medicine in Modern Turkey is a close examination of the socioreligious practice of circumcision in twenty-five cities and their outlying towns and villages in Turkey. By analyzing the changing subjectivity of medical actors who seek to alleviate suffering in male circumcision, Başaran offers a psychoanalytically informed alternate approach to the standard sociological arguments surrounding medicalization and male circumcision. Oyman Başaran is an associate professor of sociology at Bowdoin College. Alize Arıcan is a Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Scholar at Boston University, focusing on urban renewal, futurity, care, and migration. You can find her on Twitter @alizearican. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/23/202341 minutes, 33 seconds
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Ilkim Büke Okyar, "Arabs in Turkish Political Cartoons, 1876-1950: National Self and Non-National Other" (Syracuse UP, 2023)

The emergence of Turkish nationalism prior to World War I opened the way for various ethnic, religious, and cultural stereotypes to link the notion of the “Other” to the concept of national identity. The founding elite took up a massive project of social engineering that now required the amplification of Turkishness as an essential concept of the new nation-state. The construction of Others served as a backdrop to the articulation of Turkishness –and for Turkey in many ways, the Arab in his keffiyeh and traditional garb constituted the ultimate Other. In Arabs in Turkish Political Cartoons, 1876-1950: National Self and Non-National Other (Syracuse University Press, 2023), Ilkim Büke Okyar brings the everyday production of nationalist discourse into the mainstream political and historical narrative of modern Turkey. Okyar shifts the focus of inquiry from the abstract discourses of elite intellectuals to the visual rhetoric of popular culture, where Arabs as the non-national Others hold a front seat. Drawing upon previously neglected colloquial Turkish sources, Okyar challenges the notion that ethnoreligious stereotypes of Arabs are limited to the Western conception of the Other. She shows how the emergence of the printing press and the subsequent explosion of news media contributed to formulating the Arab as the binary opposite of the Turk. The book shows how the cartoon press became one of the most significant platforms in the construction, maintenance, and mobilization of Turkish nationalism through the perceived image of the Arab that was haunted forever by ethnic and religious origins. Reuben Silverman is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/22/20231 hour, 9 minutes, 15 seconds
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Amir Sedaghat, "Translating Rumi Into the West: A Linguistic Conundrum and Beyond" (Routledge, 2023)

Amir Artaban Sedaghat’s Translating Rumi into the West: A Linguistic Conundrum and Beyond (Routledge, 2023) engages Rumi, the 13th-century Muslim Persian mystic and a best-selling poet, and the paradoxes of English translations associated with him. Sedaghat explores generative questions from translation to audience reception using translation studies and theories of semiotics.  The book addresses linguistic and pragmatic questions of translations, such as how text, gender, language, and lexicon can or cannot be translated into languages like English and what's lost in the process. To highlight the latter example, Sedaghat masterfully maps various translators' works over the years, such as Orientalist scholars (Arberry and Nicholson) to contemporary Rumi enthusiasts (Coleman Barks), to show how these various translations have resulted in negotiations informed by translators own particularities (i.e., beliefs, linguistic abilities, and social locations etc). The book further considers how Rumi’s poetry is also defined by kinetic and musical dimensions, which cannot be translated. What then are the ethical challenges to these paradoxes of untranslatability and reception politics of Rumi into the global west? This book will be of interest to any Rumi enthusiast, scholars of translation, linguistics, and semiotics, and mysticism, Sufism, Persian/Iranian Studies and much more. Shobhana Xavier is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/21/20231 hour, 8 minutes, 5 seconds
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Robert Hillenbrand, "The Great Mongol Shahnameh" (Hali Publications et al., 2022)

It’s amazing that art historians like Robert Hillenbrand got to study the “Great Mongol Shahnama” at all. 500 pages of Firahdosi’s epic poem, with 300 illustrations, in a manuscript whose leaves are as wide as an ordinary person’s arms. Never completed, never bound, smuggled out of Iran by corrupt dignitaries, and separated and padded out by an unsavory Belgian art dealer. Robert Hillenbrand’s work collects all these disparate illustrations and puts them together in one book, which puts “The Great Mongol Shahnama” back at the center of a sprawling 14th-century Mongol empire. Robert Hillenbrand is an honorary professorial fellow in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. In this interview, Robert and I talk about the Shahnama—and what makes the “Great Mongol Shahnama” unique—and how the Mongol empire gave this masterpiece’s illustrations recognizable Western and Chinese influences. You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of The Great Mongol Shahnama. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/20/202339 minutes, 43 seconds
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Alan Mikhail, "My Egypt Archive" (Yale UP, 2023)

A prominent historian provides an engaging on-the-ground account of the everyday authoritarianism that produced the Arab Spring in Egypt "A visceral and perceptive study of life under autocracy."--Publishers Weekly  An unmatched contemporary history of authoritarian politics and an unflinching examination of the politics of historical authority, My Egypt Archive (Yale UP, 2023) is at once a chronicle of Egypt in the 2000s and a historian's bildungsroman. As Alan Mikhail dutifully collected the paper scraps of the past, he witnessed how the everyday oppressions of a government institution led most Egyptians to want to remake their society in early 2011. In telling these stories of the archive, Mikhail centers the politics of access, interpersonal relationships, state power, and the emotion, anxiety, and inchoate nature of historical research. My Egypt Archive reveals the workings of an authoritarian regime from inside its institutions in the decade leading up to the Arab Spring and, in doing so, points the way to exciting new modes of historical inquiry that give voice to the visceral realities all historians experience. Alan Mikhail, Chace Family Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Yale University, is widely recognized for his work in Middle Eastern and global history. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of the occult sciences and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/14/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 6 seconds
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Hassan S. Khalilieh, "Islamic Law of the Sea: Freedom of Navigation and Passage Rights in Islamic Thought" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

The doctrine of the modern law of the sea is commonly believed to have developed in Renaissance Europe. The role of Islamic law of the sea and customary practices is often ignored though. In Islamic Law of the Sea: Freedom of Navigation and Passage Rights in Islamic Thought (Cambridge UP, 2019), Hassan S. Khalilieh highlights Islamic legal doctrine regarding freedom of the seas and its implementation in practice. He proves that many of the fundamental principles of the pre-modern international law governing the legal status of the high seas and the territorial sea, though originating in the Mediterranean world, are not necessarily European creations. Beginning with the commonality of the sea in the Qur'an and legal methods employed to ensure the safety, security, and freedom of movement of Muslims and aliens by land and sea, Khalilieh then goes on to examine the concepts of the territorial sea and its security premises, as well as issues surrounding piracy and its legal implications as delineated in Islamic law. Hassan S. Khalilieh is a senior lecturer in the Maritime Civilizations and Multidisciplinary Studies departments and a senior research fellow in the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences at the University of Haifa, Israel. His publications include Islamic Maritime Law: An Introduction (1998) and Admiralty and Maritime Laws in the Mediterranean Sea (ca.800-1050): The Kitāb Akriyat al-Sufun and the Nomos Rhodion Nautikos (2006). Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/12/202348 minutes, 32 seconds
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Leslie Turnberg, "Mandate: The Palestine Crucible, 1919-1939" (Vallentine Mitchell, 2021)

The twenty years between the World Wars saw remarkable changes in the Middle East. In Palestine, Britain struggled to maintain its Mandatory Authority as Arabs and Jews fought not only each other but the British Government too. Failing to satisfy either side Britain was stuck in the middle, and separating the warring parties was a distraction they hardly needed.  In Mandate: The Palestine Crucible, 1919-1939 (Vallentine Mitchell, 2021), Turnberg explores why the British Government maintained its responsibilities under the Mandate at a time when they were suffering severe economic and social problems at home, and the threat of war with Germany. How was it possible for the Zionists' dream of a homeland in Palestine to survive when they were faced by a Government regretting its commitments, exasperated by both Jewish demands and placating the Palestinian Arabs. The Jews were outnumbered ten to one by the Arabs, but they persisted and, as described here, survived. Events in the first twenty years of the Mandate turned out to be as important to the survival of the Jewish homeland as both the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the international revulsion at the horrors of the holocaust for the creation of the State of Israel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/12/20231 hour, 6 minutes, 36 seconds
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Joseph Sassoon, "The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire" (Pantheon, 2022)

Today I talked to Joseph Sassoon about his book The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire (Pantheon, 2022) They were one of the richest families in the world for two hundred years, from the 19th century to the 20th, and were known as ‘the Rothschilds of the East.’ Mesopotamian in origin, and for more than forty years the chief treasurers to the pashas of Baghdad and Basra, they were forced to flee to Bushir on the Persian Gulf; David Sassoon and sons starting over with nothing, and beginning to trade in India in cotton and opium. The Sassoons soon were building textile mills and factories, and setting up branches in shipping in China, and expanding beyond, to Japan, and further west, to Paris and London. They became members of British parliament; were knighted; and owned and edited Britain’s leading newspapers, including The Sunday Times and The Observer. And in 1887, the exalted dynasty of Sassoon joined forces with the banking empire of Rothschild and were soon joined by marriage, fusing together two of the biggest Jewish commerce and banking families in the world. Against the monumental canvas of two centuries of the Ottoman Empire and the changing face of the Far East, across Europe and Great Britain during the time of its farthest reach, Joseph Sassoon gives us a riveting generational saga of the making of this magnificent family dynasty. Geraldine Gudefin is a French-born modern Jewish historian researching Jewish family life, legal pluralism, and the migration experiences of Jews in France and the United States. She is currently a research fellow at the Hebrew University’s Avraham Harman Research Institute of Contemporary Jewry, and is completing a book titled An Impossible Divorce? East European Jews and the Limits of Legal Pluralism in France, 1900-1939. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/12/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 57 seconds
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Liana Saif et al., "Islamicate Occult Sciences in Theory and Practice" (Brill, 2020)

Islamicate Occult Sciences in Theory and Practice (Brill, 2020) brings together the latest research on Islamic occult sciences from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, namely intellectual history, manuscript studies, and material culture. Its aim is not only to showcase the range of pioneering work that is currently being done in these areas but also to provide a model for closer interaction amongst the disciplines constituting this burgeoning field of study. Furthermore, the book provides a rare opportunity to bridge the gap on an institutional level by bringing the academic and curatorial spheres into dialogue. Dr. Liana Saif pays special attention to intercultural exchanges of esoteric and occult ideas between the Islamicate and Latinate worlds all the way to the European Renaissance, as reflected in her first monograph “The Arabic Influences on Early Modern Occult Philosophy” published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. She explores there the Islamic scientific and natural-philosophical foundations of the theories of astral influences that “naturalised” astrology and astral magic, becoming sciences that explore the dynamics that link the terrestrial and celestial worlds, thus co-producing knowledge about nature and the cosmos, and resulting in a universe more intelligible to both Muslim scientists and philosophers, and their European counterparts. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of the occult sciences and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/10/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 45 seconds
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Daniel Boyarin, "The No-State Solution: A Jewish Manifesto" (Yale UP, 2023)

Daniel Boyarin's new book The No-State Solution: A Jewish Manifesto (Yale University Press, 2023) is a provocative anti-Zionist manifesto pleading for a new understanding of Jewish peoplehood and sketching an alternative vision for a Jewish future beyond the nation-state: the Diaspora nation. He aims to drive a wedge between the "nation" and the "state," only very recently conjoined, and recover a robust sense of nationalism that does not involve sovereignty.  Professor emeritus of Talmudic culture at the University of California, Berkeley, Daniel Boyarin has been one of the most influential and paradigm-shifting scholars in Jewish Studies generally and of rabbinic culture and the study of Judaism and Christianity specifically. His publications include Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture (1993), Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Judaism and Christianity (1999), Queer Theory and the Jewish Question (2003), A Traveling Homeland: The Babylonian Talmud as Diaspora (2015) and Judaism: The Genealogy of a Modern Notion (2018). Miriam Chorley-Schulz (neé Schulz) holds a Ph.D. in Yiddish Studies from Columbia University. She is an Assistant Professor and Mokin Fellow in Holocaust Studies at the University of Oregon. Miriam is the co-founder of the EU-funded project We Refugees. Digital Archive on Refugeedom, Past and Present and the author of the award-winning monograph Der Beginn des Untergangs: Die Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinden in Polen und das Vermächtnis des Wilnaer Komitees (Berlin: Metropol, 2016). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/7/202355 minutes, 9 seconds
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Lia Brozgal and Rebecca Glasberg, eds., "A Jewish Childhood in the Muslim Mediterranean: A Collection of Stories Curated by Lela Sebbar" (U California Press, 2023)

A Jewish Childhood in the Muslim Mediterranean: A Collection of Stories Curated by Lela Sebbar (U California Press, 2023) brings together the fascinating personal stories of Jewish writers, scholars, and intellectuals who came of age in lands where Islam was the dominant religion and everyday life was infused with the politics of the French imperial project. Prompted by novelist Leïla Sebbar to reflect on their childhoods, these writers offer literary portraits that gesture to a universal condition while also shedding light on the exceptional nature of certain experiences. The childhoods captured here are undeniably Jewish, but they are also Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Egyptian, Lebanese, and Turkish; each essay thus testifies to the multicultural, multilingual, and multi-faith community into which its author was born. The present translation makes this unique collection available to an English-speaking public for the first time. The original version, published in French in 2012, was awarded the Prix Haïm Zafrani, a prize given by the Elie Wiesel Institute of Jewish Studies to a literary project that valorizes Jewish civilization in the Muslim world. Translation by Lia Brozgal, Jane Kuntz, Rebekah Vince and Robert Watson. A free ebook version of this title is available here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/4/20231 hour, 38 minutes, 28 seconds
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Chris Wickham, "The Donkey and the Boat: Reinterpreting the Mediterranean Economy, 950-1180" (Oxford UP, 2023)

A new account of the Mediterranean economy in the 10th to 12th centuries, forcing readers to entirely rethink the underlying logic to medieval economic systems. Chris Wickham re-examines documentary and archaeological sources to give a detailed account of both individual economies, and their relationships with each other. Chris Wickham offers a new account of the Mediterranean economy in the tenth to twelfth centuries, based on a completely new look at the sources, documentary and archaeological. Our knowledge of the Mediterranean economy is based on syntheses which are between 50 and 150 years old; they are based on outdated assumptions and restricted data sets, and were written before there was any usable archaeology; and Wickham contends that they have to be properly rethought. The Donkey and the Boat: Reinterpreting the Mediterranean Economy, 950-1180 (Oxford UP, 2023) is the first book ever to give a fully detailed comparative account of the regions of the Mediterranean in this period, in their internal economies and in their relationships with each other. It focusses on Egypt, Tunisia, Sicily, the Byzantine empire, Islamic Spain and Portugal, and north-central Italy, and gives the first comprehensive account of the changing economies of each; only Byzantium has a good prior synthesis. It aims to force our rethinking of how economies worked in the medieval Mediterranean. It also offers a rethinking of how we should understand the underlying logic of the medieval economy in general. Chris Wickham is Chichele Professor of medieval history emeritus at University of Oxford. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
7/3/202349 minutes, 55 seconds
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Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations: A Clash of Identities?

With Afghanistan once again under Taliban rule and Pakistan reeling under a severe economic and political crisis, the relationship between the neighbouring countries is growing increasingly tense. How can we understand this contentious situation? And, what are the consequences for the civilian population? To discuss these question, and current Afghanistan-Pakistan relations more generally, Kenneth Bo Nielsen is joined by Farhat Taj (University of Tromsø). Farhat Taj is an associate professor at the University of Tromsø, the Arctic University of Norway. Kenneth Bo Nielsen is an Associate Professor at the dept. of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo and one of the leaders of the Norwegian Network for Asian Studies. The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, and Asianettverket at the University of Oslo. We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/30/202335 minutes, 21 seconds
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Samuel Helfont, "Iraq Against the World: Saddam, America, and the Post-Cold War Order" (Oxford UP, 2023)

The move away from post-Cold War unipolarity and the rise of revisionist states like Russia and China pose a rapidly escalating and confounding threat for the liberal international order. In Iraq Against the World: Saddam, America, and the Post-Cold War Order (Oxford University Press, 2023), Dr. Samuel Helfont offers a new narrative of Iraqi foreign policy after the 1991 Gulf War to argue that Saddam Hussein executed a political warfare campaign that facilitated this disturbance to global norms. Following the Gulf War, the UN imposed sanctions and inspections on the Iraqi state—conditions that Saddam Hussein was in no position to challenge militarily or through traditional diplomacy. Hussein did, however, wage an influence campaign designed to break the unity of the UN Security Council. The Iraqis helped to impede emerging norms of international cooperation and prodded potentially revisionist states to act on latent inclinations to undermine a liberal post-Cold War order. Drawing on internal files from the ruling Ba'th Party, Dr. Helfont highlights previously unknown Iraqi foreign policy strategies, including the prominent use of influence operations and manipulative statesmanship. He traces Ba'thist operations around the globe—from the streets of New York and Stockholm, to the mosques of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, to the halls of power in Paris and Moscow. Iraqi Ba'thists carried out espionage, planted stories in the foreign press, established overt and covert relations with various political parties, and attempted to silence anyone who disrupted their preferred political narrative. They presented themselves simply as Iraqis concerned about the suffering of their friends and families in their home country, and, consequently, were able to assemble a loose political coalition that was unknowingly being employed to meet Iraq's strategic goals. This, in turn, divided Western states and weakened norms of cooperation and consensus toward rules-based solutions to international disputes, causing significant damage to liberal internationalism and the institutions that were supposed to underpin it. A powerful reconsideration of the history of Iraqi foreign policy in the 1990s and the early 2000s, Iraq against the World offers new insights into the evolution of the post-Cold War order. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/30/20231 hour, 19 minutes, 49 seconds
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Kaya Sahin, "Peerless Among Princes: The Life and Times of Sultan Süleyman" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Süleyman, who ruled the Ottoman Empire between 1520 and 1566, was a globally recognized figure during his lifetime. In Peerless Among Princes: The Life and Times of Sultan Süleyman (Oxford University Press, 2023), Kaya Şahin presents the life of this sultan, whose domain extended from Hungary to Iran, and from the Crimea to North Africa and the Indian Ocean. The wealth of his treasury, the strength of his armies, and his personality were much discussed by historians, poets, courtiers, diplomats and publics across Eurasia. Süleyman was engaged in bitter rivalries with the Catholic Habsburgs in Europe and the Shiite Safavids in the Middle East. He presided over a multilingual and multireligious empire that promised peace and prosperity to its subjects. During his reign, the Ottoman Empire became a truly global power. Imperial governance expanded considerably, and the law was emphasized as the main bond between the ruler and the ruled. Süleyman's prolific poetic output, his frequent appearances during public ceremonies, his charity, and his patronage of arts and architecture enhanced his reputation as a universal ruler with a well-rounded character. Behind the public façade of might and glory, Süleyman led a complicated life. He grew up with an overbearing father whose legacy was both an advantage and a burden. Defying established practice, he married a concubine named Hürrem whose love and affection became a true refuge. Towards the end of his life, he had to overcome both debilitating sickness and the agitations of his sons to remain on the throne. Nearly half a millennium after his death, the life of Süleyman has been obscured by romanticized and exoticized narratives. Based on original sources in multiple languages, the book narrates Süleyman's achievements as well as his failures. What emerges is a compelling account of a ruler, his family, his close associates, and the Ottoman imperial project itself during the transformational sixteenth century. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/29/20231 hour, 6 minutes, 58 seconds
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David E. Kelly, "First Fights in Fallujah: Marines During Operation Vigilant Resolve, in Iraq, April 2004" (Casemate, 2023)

In March 2004, the unprovoked ambush killing and desecration of the bodies of American civilian security contractors in Fallujah, Iraq, caused the National Command Authorities in Washington, DC. to demand that the newly arrived Marine Expeditionary Force there take action against the perpetrators and other insurgent forces. Planned Stability and Support Operations were cast aside as insurgent fighters dared the Marines to enter Fallujah. Marine infantrymen, tankers, helicopter crews, and amphibious vehicle drivers all pitched into high-intensity battles and firefights during the first fights of Fallujah in April 2004. Across the board cooperation and innovation marked these fighting Marines in combined arms fights that no one expected. Marines fought in the streets, conducted house-to-house searches, cleared buildings of enemy, and used tank main guns in direct support of urban environment operations. Helicopter crews supported operations on the ground with rockets and machine-gun fire, and Amtrac Marines transported forces to face enemy RPG and machine-gun fire. Marines from infantry squad members to a battalion commander were interviewed by Marine Corps field historians within days or weeks of the events at nearby combat outposts and camps.  David E Kelly's book First Fights in Fallujah: Marines During Operation Vigilant Resolve, in Iraq, April 2004 (Casemate, 2023) combines these interview notes and the words of the men themselves to create a unique narrative of Marines in this combat. Casualties only stiffened the will of the Marines to crush the enemy. A late April political plan called for the withdrawal of Marine forces from the city, and Marines at every level, though frustrated, understood the need to allow this attempted solution to play itself out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/28/202332 minutes, 39 seconds
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David Wenham, "Jesus in Context: Making Sense of the Historical Figure" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Jesus changed our world forever. But who was he and what do we know about him? David Wenham's Jesus in Context: Making Sense of the Historical Figure (Cambridge UP, 2021) is a concise and wide-ranging engagement with that enduring and elusive subject. Exploring the sources for Jesus and his scholarly reception, he surveys information from Roman, Jewish, and Christian texts, and also examines the origins of the gospels, as well as the evidence of Paul, who had access to the earliest oral traditions about Jesus.  Wenham demonstrates that the Jesus of the New Testament makes sense within the first century CE context in which he lived and preached. He offers a contextualized portrait of Jesus and his teaching; his relationship with John the Baptist and the Qumran community (and the Dead Sea Scrolls); his ethics and the Sermon on the Mount, his successes and disappointments. Wenham also brings insights into Jesus' vision of the future and his understanding of his own death and calling. Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/27/202337 minutes, 53 seconds
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Mongol Nomadism, Mongol Identity, and the Fall of the Mongol Empire

In part two of our conversation about his book The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East (Basic Books, 2022), Nicholas Morton, Associate Professor of History at Nottingham Trent University, joins me to share more about his research into Mongol imperial expansion and the Mongol conquests of the Near East. In this episode, we talk about practices of Mongol nomadism and mobility; how Mongol identity can be defined and understood; and where and when the Mongol empire finally collapsed. Part one is here.  Maggie Freeman is a PhD student in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/25/202353 minutes, 13 seconds
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Anne Irfan, "Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System" (Columbia UP, 2023)

In the decades after World War II, the United Nations established a global refugee regime that became central to the lives of displaced people around the world. This regime has exerted particular authority over Palestinian refugees, who are served by a specialized UN body, the Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Formed shortly after the 1948 war, UNRWA continues to provide quasi-state services such as education and health care to Palestinian refugee communities in the Middle East today. Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System (Columbia UP, 2023) is a groundbreaking international history of Palestinian refugee politics. Anne Irfan traces the history and politics of UNRWA’s interactions with Palestinian communities, particularly in the refugee camps where it functioned as a surrogate state. She shows how Palestinian refugees invoked internationalist norms to demand their political rights while resisting the UN’s categorization of their plight as an apolitical humanitarian issue. Refuge and Resistance foregrounds how nonelite activism shaped the Palestinian campaign for international recognition, showing that engagement with world politics was driven as much by the refugee grass roots as by the upper echelons of the Palestine Liberation Organization. It demonstrates that refugee groups are important actors in global politics, not simply aid recipients. Recasting modern Palestinian history through the lens of refugee camps and communities, Refuge and Resistance offers vital new perspectives for understanding politics beyond the nation-state. Roberto Mazza is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/24/202357 minutes, 7 seconds
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Orit Avishai, "Queer Judaism: LGBT Activism and the Remaking of Jewish Orthodoxy in Israel" (NYU Press, 2023)

Until fairly recently, Orthodox people in Israel could not imagine embracing their LGBT sexual or gender identity and staying within the Orthodox fold. But within the span of about a decade and a half, Orthodox LGBT people have forged social circles and communities and become much more visible. This has been a remarkable shift in a relatively short time span. Queer Judaism offers the compelling story of how Jewish LGBT persons in Israel created an effective social movement. Drawing on more than 120 interviews, Orit Avishai illustrates how LGBT Jews accomplished this radical change. She makes the case that it has taken multiple approaches to achieve recognition within the community, ranging from political activism to more personal interactions with religious leaders and community members, to simply creating spaces to go about their everyday lives. Orthodox LGBT Jews have drawn from their lived experiences as well as Jewish traditions, symbols, and mythologies to build this movement, motivated to embrace their sexual identity not in spite of, but rather because of, their commitment to Jewish scripture, tradition, and way of life. Unique and timely, Queer Judaism: LGBT Activism and the Remaking of Jewish Orthodoxy in Israel (NYU Press, 2023) challenges popular conceptions of how LGBT people interact and identify with conservative communities of faith. Orit Avishai is an ethnographer at Fordham University, where she teaches in the Sociology Department and in the Program on Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her work considers how ideology and culture, broadly defined, shape social institutions, identities, political dialogue, and cultural practices. Her recent public-facing writing has appeared in The Conversation, The Katz Center Blog, and Religion Dispatches. Dr. Avishai has degrees from The University of California at Berkeley, the Yale Law School, and Tel Aviv University Law School. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/18/202352 minutes, 59 seconds
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Gabriel Schwake, "Dwelling on the Green Line" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Today I talked to Gabriel Schwake about his book Dwelling on the Green Line (Cambridge UP, 2022). Concealed within the walls of settlements along the Green-Line, the border between Israel and the occupied West-Bank, is a complex history of territoriality, privatisation and multifaceted class dynamics. Since the late 1970s, the state aimed to expand the heavily populated coastal area eastwards into the occupied Palestinian territories, granting favoured groups of individuals, developers and entrepreneurs the ability to influence the formation of built space as a means to continuously develop and settle national frontiers. As these settlements developed, they became a physical manifestation of the relationship between the political interest to control space and the ability to form it.  Telling a socio-political and economic story from an architectural and urban history perspective, Gabriel Schwake shows how this production of space can be seen not only as a cultural phenomenon, but also as one that is deeply entangled with geopolitical agendas. Roberto Mazza is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/17/202351 minutes, 37 seconds
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Nora Barakat, "Bedouin Bureaucrats: Mobility and Property in the Ottoman Empire" (Stanford UP, 2023)

In the late 19th century, the Ottoman government sought to fill landscapes they legally defined as "empty." Both land and people were incorporated into territorially bounded grids of administrative law. Bedouin Bureaucrats: Mobility and Property in the Ottoman Empire (Stanford University Press, 2023) examines how tent-dwelling, seasonally migrating Bedouin in the Syrian interior engaged in these processes of Ottoman state transformation on local, imperial, and global scales. Narrating the lives of Bedouin individuals involved in Ottoman administration, Nora Barakat brings this population to the center of modern state-making, from their involvement in the pilgrimage administration in the 18th century and their performance of land registration and taxation as the Ottoman bureaucracy expanded in the 19th, to their eventual rejection of Ottoman attempts to reallocate the “empty land” they inhabited in the 20th. In this episode, we discuss categories and definitions of “bureaucrat,” “tent-dwelling,” and “tribe” in this context; longue durée shifts in Ottoman forms of governance in the Syrian interior and the role of Bedouin elites within Ottoman administration; and both Bedouin participation in and resistance to Ottoman state-making projects. Maggie Freeman is a PhD student in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/16/20231 hour, 10 minutes, 32 seconds
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Marielle Risse, "Houseways in Southern Oman" (Routledge, 2022)

Houseways in Southern Oman (Routledge, 2022) explores how houses are created, maintained and conceptualized in southern Oman. Based on long-term research in the Dhofar region, it draws on anthropology, sociology, urban studies and architectural history. The chapters consider physical and functional aspects, including regulations governing land use, factors in siting houses, architectural styles and norms for interior and exterior decorating. The volume also reflects on cultural expectations regarding how and when rooms are used and issues such as safety, privacy, social connectedness and ease of movement. Houses and residential areas are situated within the fabric of towns, comparison is made with housing in other countries in the Arabian peninsula, and consideration is given to notions of the ‘Islamic city’ and the ‘Islamic house’. The book is valuable reading for scholars interested in the Middle East and the built environment. Marielle Risse  Dr. Marielle Risse has lived and taught at the university level in Oman for over sixteen years and in the United Arab Emirates for two years. Her research areas are Dhofari cultures, comparative literature, and intercultural communication. She has published three books: Houseways in Southern Oman (2023, Routledge). Foodways in Southern Oman (Routledge, 2021) and Community and Autonomy in Southern Oman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). Ayesha Mu’alla is a PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology, at Shiv Nadar University. Her ethnographic research explores the social life of frankincense, its materiality, and human entanglements in Oman. Ayesha has taught at the College of Applied Sciences in Nizwa and at the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/15/202354 minutes, 42 seconds
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Nicholas W. S. Smith, "Colonial Chaos in the Southern Red Sea" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Today, the countries bordering the Red Sea are riven with instability. Why are the region's contemporary problems so persistent and interlinked? Through the stories of three compelling characters, Colonial Chaos in the Southern Red Sea (Cambridge UP, 2021) sheds light on the unfurling of anarchy and violence during the colonial era. A noble Somali sultan, a cunning Yemeni militia leader, and a Machiavellian French merchant ran amok in the southern Red Sea in the nineteenth and twentieth century. In response to colonial hostility and gunboat diplomacy, they attacked shipwrecks, launched piratical attacks, and traded arms, slaves, and drugs. Their actions contributed to the transformation of the region's international relations, redrew the political map, upended its diplomatic culture, and remodelled its traditions of maritime law, sowing the seeds of future unrest. Colonisation created chaos in the southern Red Sea. Colonial Chaos offers an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the relationship between the region's colonial past and its contemporary instability. Drora Arussy, EdD, MA, MJS, is the Senior Director of the ASF Institute of Jewish Experience. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/12/202355 minutes, 8 seconds
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Rumi, "Gold" (New York Review of Books, 2022)

In this conversation, we discuss Haleh Liza Gafori's masterful new translations of poetry by Rumi, the 13th-century Persian mystic and poet. Rumi's work is well-known in the West, but has often been encountered through the work of translators without direct knowledge of Persian language or culture. Haleh Liza Gafori's intimate knowledge of both, as well as her singer's knack for the sound of language, lends these translations both authoritativeness and beauty. The poems in Gold (New York Review of Books, 2022) are about ecstatic love, both of God and of our fellow human beings. Newcomers to Rumi will discover a new favorite poet, while longtime fans will encounter this major voice of world literature anew.  Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/10/202356 minutes, 33 seconds
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Tessa Farmer, "Well Connected: Everyday Water Practices in Cairo" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2023)

Who is responsible for ensuring access to clean potable water? In an urbanizing planet beset by climate change, cities are facing increasingly arid conditions and a precarious water future. In Well Connected: Everyday Water Practices in Cairo (Johns Hopkins UP, 2023), anthropologist Tessa Farmer details how one community in Cairo, Egypt, has worked collaboratively to adapt the many systems required to facilitate clean water in their homes and neighborhoods. As a community that was originally not included in Cairo's municipal systems, the residents of Ezbet Khairallah built their own potable water and wastewater infrastructure. But when the city initiated a piped sewage removal system, local residents soon found themselves with little to no power over their own water supply or wastewater removal. Throughout this transition, residents worked together to collect water at the right times to drink, bathe, do laundry, cook, and clean homes. These everyday practices had deep implications for the health of community members, as they struggled to remain hydrated, rid their children of endemic intestinal worms, avoid consuming water contaminated with sewage, and mediate the impact of fluctuating water quality. Farmer examines how the people of Cairo interact with one another, with the government, and with social structures in order to navigate the water systems (and lack thereof) that affect their day-to-day lives. Farmer's extensive ethnographic fieldwork during the implementation of the Governorate of Cairo's septic system shines through in the compelling stories of community members. Well Connected taps into the inherent sociality of water through social contacts, moral ideology, interpersonal relationships, domestic rhythms, and the everyday labor of connecting. Tessa Farmer is Associate Professor at the University of Virginia in the Anthropology Department and the program in Global Studies, where she directs the Global Studies–Middle East & South Asia track within the Global Studies major. Alize Arıcan is a Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Scholar at Boston University, focusing on urban renewal, futurity, care, and migration. You can find her on Twitter @alizearican Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/8/202342 minutes, 22 seconds
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Hiking Trails, Sustainable Tourism, and Bedouin Heritage

Ben Hoffler is the co-founder of several hiking trails in the Middle East, including the Sinai Trail, the Red Sea Mountain Trail, the Wadi Rum Trail, and the Bedouin Trail, which aim to boost and promote sustainable tourism and help conserve the endangered heritage of the Bedouin tribes who historically live in these regions and manage the trails today. In this episode, we discuss tourism as heritage preservation, overcoming negative stereotypes of regions like the Sinai, and how historically-nomadic communities like the Bedouin can benefit from tourism initiatives. Maggie Freeman is a PhD student in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/7/202342 minutes, 3 seconds
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Nora Barakat, "Bedouin Bureaucrats: Mobility and Property in the Ottoman Empire" (Stanford UP, 2023)

In the late nineteenth century, Ottoman statesmen sought to fill landscapes they legally defined as "empty." Both land and people were incorporated into territorially bounded grids of administrative law.  Nora Elizabeth Barakat's Bedouin Bureaucrats: Mobility and Property in the Ottoman Empire (Stanford University Press, 2023) examines how tent-dwelling, seasonally migrating Bedouin engaged in these processes of Ottoman state transformation on local, imperial, and global scales. As the "tribe" became a category of Ottoman administration, Bedouin in the Syrian interior used this category both to gain political influence and to organize community resistance and maintain control over land. Narrating the lives of Bedouin individuals involved in Ottoman administration, the book brings this population to the center of modern state-making - from their involvement in the pilgrimage administration in the eighteenth century and their performance of land registration and taxation as the Ottoman bureaucracy expanded in the nineteenth, to their eventual rejection of Ottoman attempts to reallocate the "empty land" they inhabited in the twentieth. Barakat places the Syrian interior in a global context of imperial expansion into regions formerly deemed marginal, especially in relation to American and Russian empires. Vladislav Lilic is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/6/202357 minutes, 57 seconds
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Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu, "Nur Baba: A Sufi Novel of Late Ottoman Istanbul" (Routledge, 2023)

This conversation is with Brett Wilson, who has composed the first English translation of the classic and controversial novel from late Ottoman Turkey Nur Baba--a classic of modern Turkish literature written by Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu--offers a unique window into Sufi lodges, social dilemmas, and intellectual life in early twentieth-century Istanbul. Wilson’s tranlsation is both lyrical and captivating, and will make for an excellent resource for courses on Sufism and Islam more broadly Inspired by Karaosmanoğlu's personal experiences with Islamic mystical orders, it is a story of illicit romance and spiritual inquiry, depicting a colourful lodge of Sufi dervishes led by a charismatic, yet morally suspect, spiritual master named Nur Baba. The plot follows his attempts to seduce an attractive married woman from an elite family and recounts her dramatic experiences in the life of a Sufi community. The setting shuttles between the grand mansions of Istanbul's elite families and a Sufi lodge where rich and poor intermingle. Exploring questions of gender, morality, and religious bias throughout, it captures the zeitgeist of early twentieth-century modernist thinkers who criticised Sufism for impeding social progress and debated the public roles of women in a rapidly modernising society. Alongside the editor's meticulous translation, Nur Baba: A Sufi Novel of Late Ottoman Istanbul (Routledge, 2023) includes a scholarly introduction, maps, and images, as well as explanatory footnotes that will aid both students and scholars alike. The novel will be of particular interest to those studying world literature, Sufi studies, and Ottoman-Turkish history. SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize and was selected as a finalist for the 2021 American Academy of Religion Book Award. His second book is called Perilous Intimacies: Debating Hindu-Muslim Friendship after Empire (Columbia University Press, 2023). His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at [email protected]. Listener feedback is most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/6/202355 minutes, 36 seconds
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Monika Raesch, "Abbas Kiarostami: Interviews" (UP of Mississippi, 2023)

The cinephile community knows Abbas Kiarostami (1940–2016) as one of the most important filmmakers of the previous decades. This volume illustrates why the Iranian filmmaker achieved critical acclaim around the globe and details his many contributions to the art of filmmaking. Kiarostami began his illustrious career in his native Iran in the 1970s, although European and American audiences did not begin to take notice until he released his 1987 feature Where’s the Friend’s House? His films defy established conventions, placing audiences as active viewers who must make decisions about actions and characters while watching the narratives unfold. He asks viewers to question the genre construct (Close-Up) and challenges them to determine how to watch and imagine a narrative (Ten and Shirin). In recognition for his approach to the craft, Kiarostami was awarded many honors during his lifetime, including the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 for Taste of Cherry. In Abbas Kiarostami: Interviews (UP of Mississippi, 2023) ,editor Monika Raesch collects eighteen interviews (several translated into English for the first time), lectures, and other materials that span Kiarostami’s career in the film industry. In addition to exploring his expertise, the texts provide insight into his life philosophy. This volume offers a well-rounded picture of the filmmaker through his conversations with journalists, film scholars, critics, students, and audience members. Monika Raesch is associate professor of film studies and video production at Suffolk University. A native of Germany, she is editor of Margarethe von Trotta: Interviews, published by University Press of Mississippi, and author of The Kiarostami Brand: Creation of a Film Auteur. Her work has appeared in such publications as the Journal of Film and Video and Feminist Media Studies. Kaveh Rafie is a PhD candidate specializing in modern and contemporary art at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His dissertation charts the course of modern art in the late Pahlavi Iran (1941-1979) and explores the extent to which the 1953 coup marks the recuperation of modern art as a viable blueprint for cultural globalization in Iran. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/4/202345 minutes, 44 seconds
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James H. Meyer, "Red Star over the Black Sea: Nazim Hikmet and His Generation" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Nâzım Hikmet (1902-1963) is best known as a poet and communist whose daring flight by motorboat from Turkey to the Eastern Bloc captured international headlines in 1951. One of the most important poets to have written in the Turkish language, Nâzım Hikmet's dramatic life story is fascinating in its own right, but also intersects with the story of the broader twentieth century. In Red Star over the Black Sea: Nâzım Hikmet and his Generation (Oxford University Press, 2022), James H. Meyer situates Nâzım Hikmet within the broader context of Turkish communist "border-crossers," individuals whose lives would go on to be shaped significantly by their ability, inability, or need to traverse the frontier. Born at the turn of the twentieth century and coming of age in the early 1920s, the women and men from Nâzım Hikmet's generation were the last of the Ottomans. Children of empire, they had grown up in an era of porous frontiers, but by the time they reached their third decade, these borders had begun to close. Drawing upon an enormous amount of previously untapped archival materials and personal papers from Moscow, Istanbul, Amsterdam, and Washington, DC, Meyer has written a biography of Nâzım Hikmet unlike any other. A book of world history wrapped inside a life story, Red Star over the Black Sea shows how changing attitudes toward borders and the people who cross them impacted a late imperial generation all the way up to the final years of the Cold War. Reuben Silverman is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
6/3/20231 hour, 1 minute, 14 seconds
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Hilary Frances Aked, "Friends of Israel: The Backlash Against Palestine Solidarity" (Verso, 2023)

Is there such a thing as “the Israel lobby,” and how powerful is it really? Hilary Frances Aked's book Friends of Israel: The Backlash Against Palestine Solidarity (Verso, 2023) provides a forensically researched account of the activities of Israel's advocates in Britain, showing how they contribute to maintaining Israeli apartheid. The book traces the history and changing fortunes of key actors within the British Zionist movement in the context of the Israeli government's contemporary efforts to repress a rising tide of solidarity with Palestinians expressed through the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Offering a nuanced and politically relevant account of pro-Israel actors' strategies, tactics, and varying levels of success in key arenas of society, it draws parallels with the similar anti-boycott campaign waged by supporters of the erstwhile apartheid regime in South Africa. Roberto Mazza is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/30/20231 hour, 22 minutes, 22 seconds
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Anne Gerritsen and Burton Cleetus, "Histories of Health and Materiality in the Indian Ocean World: Medicine, Material Culture and Trade, 1600-2000" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

Histories of Health and Materiality in the Indian Ocean World: Medicine, Material Culture and Trade, 1600-2000 (Bloomsbury, 2023): Introducing materiality into the study of the history of medicine, this volume hones in on communities across the Indian Ocean World and explores how they understood and engaged with health and medical commodities. Opening up spatial dimensions and challenging existing approaches to knowledge, power, and the market, it defines 'therapeutic commodity' and explores how different materials were understood and engaged with in various settings and for a number of purposes. Offering new spatial realms within which the circulation of commodities created new regimes of meaning, Histories of Health and Materiality in the Indian Ocean World demonstrates how medicinal substances have had immediate and far-reaching economic and political consequences in various capacities. From midwifery and umbilical cords, to the social spaces of soap, and perfumes in early modern India and remedies for leprosy, this volume considers a vast range of material culture in medicinal settings to better understand the history of medicine and its role in global connections since the early 17th century. Anne Gerritsen is Professor of History at the University of Warwick, UK, and Chair of Asian Art at the University of Leiden, Netherlands. At Warwick, she co-directs the Global History and Culture Centre. Burton Cleetus is Assistant Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, where he teaches Modern Indian History. He specialises in the history of medicine and science and has worked on the institutionalisation of Indian medical traditions in colonial and post independent India. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/29/202354 minutes, 3 seconds
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Max Weiss, "Revolutions Aesthetic: A Cultural History of Ba'thist Syria" (Stanford UP, 2022)

The November 1970 coup that brought Hafiz al-Asad to power fundamentally transformed cultural production in Syria. A comprehensive intellectual, ideological, and political project—a Ba'thist cultural revolution—sought to align artistic endeavors with the ideological interests of the regime. The ensuing agonistic struggle pitted official aesthetics of power against alternative modes of creative expression that could evade or ignore the effects of the state. In Revolutions Aesthetic: A Cultural History of Ba'thist Syria (Stanford University Press, 2022), Max Weiss offers the first cultural and intellectual history of Ba'thist Syria, from the coming to power of Hafiz al-Asad, through the transitional period under Bashar al-Asad, and continuing up through the Syria War. The book reconceptualizes contemporary Syrian politics, authoritarianism, and cultural life. Engaging rich original sources—novels, films, and cultural periodicals—Weiss highlights themes crucial to the making of contemporary Syria: heroism and leadership, gender and power, comedy and ideology, surveillance and the senses, witnessing and temporality, and death and the imagination. Revolutions Aesthetic places front and center the struggle around aesthetic ideology that has been key to the constitution of state, society, and culture in Syria over the course of the past fifty years. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/28/20231 hour, 24 minutes, 49 seconds
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Jessica M. Marglin, "The Shamama Case: Contesting Citizenship Across the Modern Mediterranean" (Princeton UP, 2022)

In the winter of 1873, Nissim Shamama, a wealthy Jew from Tunisia, died suddenly in his palazzo in Livorno, Italy. His passing initiated a fierce lawsuit over his large estate. Before Shamama’s riches could be disbursed among his aspiring heirs, Italian courts had to decide which law to apply to his estate—a matter that depended on his nationality. Was he an Italian citizen? A subject of the Bey of Tunis? Had he become stateless? Or was his Jewishness also his nationality? Tracing a decade-long legal battle involving Jews, Muslims, and Christians from both sides of the Mediterranean, The Shamama Case: Contesting Citizenship Across the Modern Mediterranean (Princeton UP, 2022) offers a riveting history of citizenship across regional, cultural, and political borders. On its face, the crux of the lawsuit seemed simple: To which state did Shamama belong when he died? But the case produced hundreds of pages in legal briefs and thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees before the man’s estate could be distributed among his quarrelsome heirs. Jessica Marglin follows the unfolding of events, from Shamama’s rise to power in Tunis and his self-imposed exile in France, to his untimely death in Livorno and the clashing visions of nationality advanced during the lawsuit. Marglin brings to life a Dickensian array of individuals involved in the case: family members who hoped to inherit the estate; Tunisian government officials; an Algerian Jewish fixer; rabbis in Palestine, Tunisia, and Livorno; and some of Italy’s most famous legal minds. Drawing from a wealth of correspondence, legal briefs, rabbinic opinions, and court rulings, The Shamama Case reimagines how we think about Jews, the Mediterranean, and belonging in the nineteenth century. Geraldine Gudefin is a French-born modern Jewish historian researching Jewish family life, legal pluralism, and the migration experiences of Jews in France and the United States. She is currently a research fellow at the Hebrew University’s Avraham Harman Research Institute of Contemporary Jewry, and is completing a book titled An Impossible Divorce? East European Jews and the Limits of Legal Pluralism in France, 1900-1939. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/27/20231 hour, 1 minute, 1 second
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Burkhard Schnepel and Julia Verne, "Cargoes in Motion: Materiality and Connectivity across the Indian Ocean" (Ohio UP, 2022)

Cargoes in Motion: Materiality and Connectivity across the Indian Ocean (Ohio University Press, 2022) is an innovative collection of essays that foregrounds specific cargoes as a means to understand connectivity and mobility across the Indian Ocean world. Scholars have long appreciated the centrality of trade and commerce in understanding the connectivity and mobility that underpin human experience in the Indian Ocean region. But studies of merchant and commercial activities have paid little attention to the role that cargoes have played in connecting the disparate parts of this vast oceanic world.  Drawing from the work of anthropologists, geographers, and historians, Cargoes in Motion tells the story of how material objects have informed and continue to shape processes of exchange across the Indian Ocean. By following selected cargoes through both space and time, this book makes an important and innovative contribution to Indian Ocean studies. The multidisciplinary approach deepens our understanding of the nature and dynamics of the Indian Ocean world by showing how transoceanic connectivity has been driven not only by economic, social, cultural, and political factors but also by the materiality of the objects themselves. Essays by: Edward A. Alpers, Fahad Ahmad Bishara, Eva-Maria Knoll, Karl-Heinz Kohl, Lisa Jenny Krieg, Pedro Machado, Rupert Neuhöfer, Mareike Pampus, Hannah Pilgrim, Burkhard Schnepel, Hanne Schönig, Tansen Sen, Steven Serels, Julia Verne, and Kunbing Xiao. Burkhard Schnepel is a professor of social anthropology at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. From 2013 to 2020, he was head of the Connectivity in Motion: Port Cities of the Indian Ocean fellows group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle. He is the author of The King’s Three Bodies: Essays on Kingship and Ritual and a coeditor of Travelling Pasts: The Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Indian Ocean World.  Julia Verne is a professor of cultural geography at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, where she leads a research group on mobility, materiality, and maritimity, with a focus on the western Indian Ocean. Her publications include Living Translocality: Space, Culture, and Economy in Contemporary Swahili Trade and several articles discussing the Indian Ocean as a relational space. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/27/202344 minutes, 56 seconds
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Aomar Boum, "Undesirables: A Holocaust Journey to North Africa" (Stanford UP, 2023)

In the lead-up to World War II, the rising tide of fascism and antisemitism in Europe foreshadowed Hitler's genocidal campaign against Jews. But the horrors of the Holocaust were not limited to the concentration camps of Europe: antisemitic terror spread through Vichy French imperial channels to France's colonies in North Africa, where in the forced labor camps of Algeria and Morocco, Jews and other "undesirables" faced brutal conditions and struggled to survive in an unforgiving landscape quite unlike Europe. In Undesirables: A Holocaust Journey to North Africa (Stanford UP, 2023), historian Aomar Boum and illustrator Nadjib Berber take us inside this lesser-known side of the traumas wrought by the Holocaust by following one man's journey as a Holocaust refugee. Hans Frank is a Jewish journalist covering politics in Berlin, who grows increasingly uneasy as he witnesses the Nazi Party consolidate power and decides to flee Germany. Through connections with a transnational network of activists organizing against fascism and anti-Semitism, Hans ultimately lands in French Algeria, where days after his arrival, the Vichy regime designates all foreign Jews as "undesirables" and calls for their internment. On his way to Morocco, he is detained by Vichy authorities and interned first at Le Vernet, then later transported to different camps in the deserts of Morocco and Algeria. With memories of his former life as a political journalist receding like a dream, Hans spends the next year and a half in forced labor camps, hearing the stories of others whose lives have been upended by violence and war. Through bold, historically inflected illustrations that convey the tension of the coming war and the grimness of the Vichy camps, Aomar Boum and Nadjib Berber capture the experiences of thousands of refugees through the fictional Hans, chronicling how the traumas of the Holocaust extended far beyond the borders of Europe. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/26/20231 hour, 5 minutes, 21 seconds
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Daniel Martin Varisco, "Seasonal Knowledge and the Almanac Tradition in the Arab Gulf" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022)

Seasonal Knowledge and the Almanac Tradition in the Arab Gulf (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) is the first in English to survey indigenous knowledge of seasonal, astronomical, and agricultural information in Arab Gulf almanacs. It provides an extensive analysis of the traditional information available, based on local almanacs, Arabic texts and poetry by Gulf individuals, ethnographic interviews, and online forums. A major feature of the book is tracing the history of terms and concepts in the local seasonal knowledge of the Gulf, including an important genre about weather stars, stemming back to the ninth century CE. Also covered are pearl diving, fishing, seafaring, and pastoral activities. This book will be of interest to scholars who study the entire Arab region since much of the lore was shared and continues through the present. It will also be of value to scholars who work on the Indian Ocean and Red Sea Trade Network, as well as the history of folk astronomy in the Arab World. Daniel Martin Varisco is an anthropologist and historian, who conducted ethnographic and ecological research in the Yemen Arab Republic in the 1970s and returned numerous times in the 1980s and 1990s as both a consultant in development and a historian. Tamara Fernando co-hosted the episode. She is a Past & Present postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Historical Research, London, and an incoming assistant professor in the history of the global south at SUNY Stony Brook University. Her present book project, Of Mollusks and Men, is a history of pearl diving across the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Mannar, and the Mergui archipelago. She is interested in histories of science, environment, and labor across the Indian Ocean. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/23/20231 hour, 22 minutes, 20 seconds
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Natalie Koch, "Arid Empire: The Entangled Fates of Arizona and Arabia" (Verso, 2023)

The iconic deserts of the American southwest could not have been colonized and settled without the help of desert experts from the Middle East. For example: In 1856, a caravan of thirty-three camels arrived in Indianola, Texas, led by a Syrian cameleer the Americans called "Hi Jolly." This "camel corps," the US government hoped, could help the army secure the new southwest swath of the country just wrested from Mexico. Though the dream of the camel corps - and sadly, the camels - died, the idea of drawing on expertise, knowledge, and practices from the desert countries of the Middle East did not. As Dr. Natalie Koch demonstrates in Arid Empire: The Entangled Fates of Arizona and Arabia (Verso, 2023), this evocative, narrative history, the exchange of colonial technologies between the Arabian Peninsula and United States over the past two centuries - from date palm farming and desert agriculture to the utopian sci-fi dreams of Biosphere 2 and Frank Herbert's Dune - bound the two regions together, solidifying the colonization of the US West and, eventually, the reach of American power into the Middle East. Koch teaches us to see deserts anew, not as mythic sites of romance or empty wastelands but as an "arid empire," a crucial political space where imperial dreams coalesce. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/22/202359 minutes, 20 seconds
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Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, "A Stranger in Your Own City: Travels in the Middle East's Long War" (Knopf, 2023)

The history of reportage has often depended on outsiders--Ryszard Kapuściński witnessing the fall of the shah in Iran, Frances FitzGerald observing the aftermath of the American war in Vietnam. What would happen if a native son was so estranged from his city by war that he could, in essence, view it as an outsider? What kind of portrait of a war-wracked place and people might he present? A Stranger in Your Own City: Travels in the Middle East's Long War (Knopf, 2023) is award-winning writer Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's vivid, shattering response. This is not a book about Iraq's history or an inventory of the many Middle Eastern wars that have consumed the nation over the past several decades. This is the tale of a people who once lived under the rule of a megalomaniacal leader who shaped the state in his own image; a people who watched a foreign army invade, topple that leader, demolish the state, and then invent a new country; who experienced the horror of having their home fragmented into a hundred different cities. When the "Shock and Awe" campaign began in March 2003, Abdul-Ahad was an architect. Within months he would become a translator, then a fixer, then a reporter for The Guardian and elsewhere, chronicling the unbuilding of his centuries-old cosmopolitan city. Beginning at that moment and spanning twenty years, Abdul-Ahad's book decenters the West and in its place focuses on everyday people, soldiers, mercenaries, citizens blown sideways through life by the war, and the proliferation of sectarian battles that continue to this day. Here is their Iraq, seen from the inside: the human cost of violence, the shifting allegiances, the generational change. A Stranger in Your Own City is a rare work of beauty and tragedy whose power and relevance lie in its attempt to return the land to the people to whom it belongs. AJ Woodhams hosts the "War Books" podcast. You can subscribe on Apple here and on Spotify here. War Books is on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/22/20231 hour, 9 minutes, 1 second
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Philip Gooding, "Droughts, Floods, and Global Climatic Anomalies in the Indian Ocean World" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022)

Droughts, Floods, and Global Climatic Anomalies in the Indian Ocean World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) explores histories of droughts and floods in the Indian Ocean World, and their connections to broader global climatic anomalies. It deploys an interdisciplinary approach rooted in the emerging field of climate history to investigate the multifaceted effects of global climatic anomalies on regions affected by the Indian Ocean Monsoon System – regularly conceived of as the macro-region’s ‘deep structure.’ Case studies explore how droughts and floods related to anomalous climatic conditions have historically affected states, societies, and ecologies across the Indian Ocean World, including in relation to food security, epidemic diseases, political (in)stability, economic change, infrastructural development, colonialism, capitalism, and scientific knowledge. Tracing longue durée patterns from the twelfth to the early twentieth centuries, this book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of global climatic events and their effects on the Indian Ocean World. It highlights essential historical case studies for contextualizing the potential effects of global warming on the macro-region in the present and future. Philip Gooding is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/22/202357 minutes, 23 seconds
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Mark LeVine, "We'll Play Till We Die: Journeys Across a Decade of Revolutionary Music in the Muslim World" (U California Press, 2022)

In We'll Play till We Die: Journeys across a Decade of Revolutionary Music in the Muslim World (University of California Press, 2022), Mark LeVine, Professor at University of California, Irvine, dives into the revolutionary youth music cultures of Muslim societies before, during, and beyond the waves of resistance that shook the region from Morocco to Pakistan.  This sequel to his celebrated 2008 musical travelogue Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam, shows how some of the world's most extreme music not only helped inspire and define region-wide protests, but also exemplifies the beauty and diversity of youth cultures throughout Muslim societies. In our conversation we discussed early metal scenes in the Southwest Asia, the Arab uprisings, hip hop culture, the rise of electronic music, musicians and fans organizing and protesting, the circulation of music through global platforms, the role of subcultures, harassment, imprisonment and police brutality toward youth, the role of women in music scenes, and collaboration and authorship. Kristian Petersen is an Associate Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/19/20231 hour, 11 minutes, 58 seconds
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Algeria and France: Grievances and the Effects of Decolonialism

In this episode of International Horizons, RBI's director, John Torpey interviewed Laetitia Bucaille about the factors that explain variation in resentment and grievances in former colonies drawing from the cases of Algeria and South Africa. Bucaille delves deeper into the case of Algeria and the affected populations whose identities were crossed cut by institutions and personal experiences as a former colony. Moreover, she explains how Algeria, considered not a colony but a French territory, still implemented discriminating laws against native Algerians who were deemed as second-class citizens. Finally, the author discusses the long-lasting consequences of this decolonization process and how it gets intertwined with politics and anti-Islam narratives in France. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/18/202341 minutes, 30 seconds
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Daniel Gordis, "Impossible Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Creation, Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders' Dreams?" (Ecco Press, 2023)

In 1948, Israel’s founders had much more in mind than the creation of a state. They sought not mere sovereignty but also a “national home for the Jewish people,” where Jewish life would be transformed. Did they succeed? The state they made, says Daniel Gordis, is a place of extraordinary success and maddening disappointment, a story of both unprecedented human triumph and great suffering. Now, as the country marks its seventy-fifth anniversary, Gordis asks: Has Israel fulfilled the dreams of its founders? Using Israel's Declaration of Independence as his measure, Gordis provides a thorough, balanced perspective on how the Israel of today exceeds the country’s original aspirations and how it has fallen short. He discusses the often-overlooked reasons for the establishment of the State of Israel; the flourishing of Jewish and Israeli culture; the nation's economy and its transformative tech sector; the Israeli-Arab conflict; the distinct form of Judaism that has emerged in the Jewish state; the nation's complex relationship with the Diaspora; and much more. In Impossible Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Creation, Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders' Dreams? (Ecco Press, 2023), Gordis brings moderation and clarity to the prevailing discourse. And through weighing Israel’s successes, critiquing its failures, and acknowledging its inherent contradictions, he ultimately suggests that the Jewish state is a success far beyond anything its founders could have imagined. Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at [email protected]. She's on Twitter @embracingwisdom. She blogs here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/17/202340 minutes, 26 seconds
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Claudia Liebelt, "Istanbul Appearances: Beauty and the Making of Middle-Class Femininities in Urban Turkey" (Syracuse UP, 2023)

In the past two decades, the consumption of beauty services and cosmetic surgery in Turkey has developed from an elite phenomenon to an increasingly common practice, especially among younger and middle-aged women. Turkey now ranks among the top countries worldwide with the highest number of cosmetic procedures, and with its cultural and economic capital, Istanbul has become a regional center for the beauty and fashion industries. Istanbul Appearances: Beauty and the Making of Middle-Class Femininities in Urban Turkey (Syracuse University Press, 2023) shows the profound effects of this growing market on urban residents’ body images, gendered norms, and practices. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork carried out in beauty salons and clinics in different parts of the city, Liebelt explores how standards of femininity and female desire have shifted since the consolidation of power and authoritarian rule of the conservative, pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party.  Arguing that the politics of beauty are intricately bound up with the politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality, Liebelt shows that female bodies have become a major site for the negotiation of citizenship. It is in the numerous beauty salons and clinics that the heteronormative ideals and images of gendered bodies become real, embodied in a complex array of emotional desires of who and what is considered not only beautiful but also morally proper. Claudia Liebelt is professor in social and cultural anthropology at the Free University of Berlin. She is the author of Caring for the ‘Holy Land’: Filipina Domestic Workers in Israel. Armanc Yildiz is a doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology with a secondary field in Studies in Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University. He is also the founder of Academics Write, where he supports scholars in their writing projects as a writing coach and developmental editor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/14/202331 minutes, 46 seconds
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Oded Zinger, "Living with the Law: Gender and Community Among the Jews of Medieval Egypt" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2023)

Living with the Law: Gender and Community Among the Jews of Medieval Egypt (U Pennsylvania Press, 2023) explores the marital disputes of Jews in medieval Islamic Egypt (1000-1250), relating medieval gossip, marital woes, and the voices of men and women of a world long gone. Probing the rich documents of the Cairo Geniza, a unique repository of discarded paper discovered in a Cairo synagogue, the book recovers the life stories of Jewish women and men working through their marital problems at home, with their families, in the streets of old Cairo, and in Jewish and Muslim courts. Despite a voluminous literature on Jewish law, the everyday practice of Jewish courts has only recently begun to be investigated systematically. The experiences of those at a legal, social, and cultural disadvantage allow us to go beyond the image propagated by legal institutions and offer a view "from below" of Jewish communal life and Jewish law as it was lived. Examining the interactions between gender and law in medieval Jewish communities under Islamic rule, Oded Zinger considers how women experienced Jewish courts and the pressure they faced to relinquish their monetary rights. The tactics with which women countered this pressure--ranging from exploiting family ties to appealing to Muslim courts--expose the complex relationship between individual agency, gendered expectations, and communal authority. Zinger concludes that, more than money, education, or lineage, it was the maintenance of a supportive network of social relations with men that protected women at different stages of their lives. Drora Arussy, EdD, MA, MJS, is the Senior Director of the ASF Institute of Jewish Experience. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/11/202354 minutes, 1 second
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Hosam A. Ibrahim Elzembely and Emad El-Din Aysha, "Arab and Muslim Science Fiction" (McFarland, 2022)

How is science fiction from the Arab and Muslim world different than mainstream science fiction from the West? What distinctive and original contributions can it make? Why is it so often neglected in critical considerations of the genre? While other books have explored these questions, all have been from foreign academic voices.  Instead, Hosam A. Ibrahim Elzembely and Emad El-Din Aysha,'s book Arab and Muslim Science Fiction (McFarland, 2022) examines the nature, genesis, and history of Arabic and Muslim science fiction, as well as the challenges faced by its authors, in the authors’ own words. These authors share their stories and struggles with censors, recalcitrant publishers, critics, the book market, and the literary establishment. Their uphill efforts, with critical contributions from academics, translators, and literary activists, will enlighten the sci-fi enthusiast and fill a gap in the history of science fiction. Topics covered range from culture shock to conflicts between tradition and modernity, proactive roles for female heroines, blind imitation of storytelling techniques, and language games. Iqra Shagufta Cheema writes and teaches in the areas of media cultures, Anglophone literatures, transnational digital feminisms, gender and sexuality studies, and global south film studies. Check out their upcoming books: The Other #MeToos and ReFocus: The Films of Annemarie Jacir. Follow them on Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/10/20231 hour, 26 seconds
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Laetitia Nanquette, "Iranian Literature After the Islamic Revolution: Production and Circulation in Iran and the World" (Edinburgh UP, 2021)

In Iranian Literature After the Islamic Revolution: Production and Circulation in Iran and the World (Edinburgh UP, 2021), Dr. Laetitia Nanquette explores how Iranian literature has functioned and circulated from the 1979 revolution to the present. She looks at prose productions in particular, analyzing several genres and media. Taking Iran as a starting point, Nanquette explores the forms, structures and functions of Iranian literature within Iranian society. She then turns to the diaspora – with a focus on North America, Western Europe and Australia – and the world beyond Iranians to examine the current dynamics of literary production and circulation between Iranian diasporic spaces and the homeland. Laetitia Nanquette is Senior Lecturer in the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales. Between 2015 and 2019, she was an Australia Research Council DECRA Fellow at UNSW and worked on the project "A Global Comparative Study of Contemporary Iranian Literature". Connor Christensen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago, pursuing both an MPP at the Harris School of Public Policy and an MA at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He welcomes collaboration, so feel free to reach out on LinkedIn or at his email, [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/6/202349 minutes, 22 seconds
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Gönül Tol, "Erdoğan's War: A Strongman's Struggle at Home and in Syria" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey's pugnacious president, is now the country's longest-serving leader. On his way to the top, he has fought many wars. This book tells the story of those battles against domestic enemies through the lens of the Syrian conflict, which has become part and parcel of Erdoğan's fight to remain in power. In Erdoğan's War: A Stongman's Struggle at Home and in Syria (Oxford University Press, 2022), Turkey expert Gönül Tol traces Erdoğan's ideological evolution from a conservative democrat to an Islamist and a Turkish nationalist, and explores how this progression has come to shape his Syria policy, changing the course of the war. She paints a vivid picture of the president's constantly shifting strategy to consolidate his rule, showing that these shifts have transformed Turkey's role in post-uprising Syria from an advocate of democracy, to a power fanning the flames of civil war, to an occupier. From the first days of Erdoğan's rule through the failed coup against him, via the Kurdish peace process, the Arab uprisings and the refugee crisis, this compelling, authoritative book tells the story of one man's quest to remain in power--tying together the fates of two countries, and changing them both forever. Reuben Silverman is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
5/5/202349 minutes, 27 seconds
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Brahim El Guabli, "Moroccan Other-Archives: History and Citizenship After State Violence" (Fordham UP, 2023)

Moroccan Other-Archives: History and Citizenship After State Violence (Fordham UP, 2023) investigates how histories of exclusion and silencing are written and rewritten in a postcolonial context that lacks organized and accessible archives. The book draws on cultural production concerning the “years of lead”—a period of authoritarianism and political violence between Morocco’s independence in 1956 and the death of King Hassan II in 1999—to examine the transformative roles memory and trauma play in reconstructing stories of three historically marginalized groups in Moroccan history: Berbers/Imazighen, Jews, and political prisoners. This book demonstrates how Moroccan cultural production has become an other-archive: a set of textual, sonic, embodied, and visual sites that recover real or reimagined voices of these formerly suppressed and silenced constituencies of Moroccan society. Combining theoretical discussions with close reading of literary works, the book reenvisions both archives and the nation in postcolonial Morocco. By producing other-archives, Moroccan cultural creators transform the losses state violence inflicted on society during the years of lead into a source of civic engagement and historiographical agency, enabling the writing of histories about those Moroccans who have been excluded from official documentation and state-sanctioned histories. The book is multilingual and interdisciplinary, examining primary sources in Amazigh/Berber, Arabic, Darija, and French, and drawing on memory studies, literary theory, archival studies, anthropology, and historiography. In addition to showing how other-archives are created and operate, El Guabli elaborates how language, gender, class, race, and geographical distribution are co-constitutive of a historical and archival unsilencing that is foundational to citizenship in Morocco today. Jen Hoyer is Technical Services and Electronic Resources Librarian at CUNY New York City College of Technology. Jen edits for Partnership Journal and organizes with the TPS Collective. She is co-author of What Primary Sources Teach: Lessons for Every Classroom and The Social Movement Archive. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/30/202359 minutes, 14 seconds
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Teena U. Purohit, "Sunni Chauvinism and the Roots of Muslim Modernism" (Princeton UP, 2023)

Teena Purohit’s new book Sunni Chauvinism and the Roots of Muslim Modernism (Princeton University Press, 2023) maps how various Muslim modernists from the 19th to the 20th centuries used their Sunni normativity to construct social and political boundaries around conceptions of tawhid or Islamic unity. The book distinctively focuses on how Muslim modernists such as canonical figures like Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad ‘Abduh, Rashid Rida and many others, focused on communities such as Shi‘as, Ismailis, Ahmadis, and Bahai’s in their activist and intellectual projects that aspired for a singular unified Islam against encroaching western modernity.  For Muslim modernists who were anxious to reclaim a “lost unity” of Islam that existed in the past and believed could be achieved again in the future (though lacking in their time), non-Sunni groups, like Ahmadis for Muhammad Iqbal or esoteric groups for Rashid Rida, became communities that received disparaging attention and intolerant attitudes that led to a particular Sunni chauvinism, Purohit argues. And as such, this obsession with unity (tawhid) and the privileging of Sunnism that went with it was found in all forms of Muslim modernism. This book then invites a rethinking of our conceptualization of Muslim modernism in light of these thinkers approaches to esoteric (i.e., Sufi) and Shi‘a groups who were viewed as problematic for the social and political goal of tawhid. This accessible book will be of interest to those who think and write on Muslim modernism and non-Sunni movements in Islam. It will also be a great teaching resource for undergraduate and graduate classes. Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/28/20231 hour, 9 minutes, 6 seconds
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Awad Halabi, "Palestinian Rituals of Identity: The Prophet Moses Festival in Jerusalem, 1850-1948" (U Texas Press, 2023)

Members of Palestine's Muslim community have long honored al-Nabi Musa, or the Prophet Moses. Since the thirteenth century, they have celebrated at a shrine near Jericho believed to be the location of Moses's tomb; in the mid-nineteenth century, they organized a civic festival in Jerusalem to honor this prophet. Considered one of the most important occasions for Muslim pilgrims in Palestine, the Prophet Moses festival yearly attracted thousands of people who assembled to pray, conduct mystical forms of worship, and hold folk celebrations. Palestinian Rituals of Identity: The Prophet Moses Festival in Jerusalem, 1850-1948 (U Texas Press, 2023) takes an innovative approach to the study of Palestine's modern history by focusing on the Prophet Moses festival from the late Ottoman period through the era of British rule. Halabi explores how the festival served as an arena of competing discourses, with various social groups attempting to control its symbols. Tackling questions about modernity, colonialism, gender relations, and identity, Halabi recounts how peasants, Bedouins, rural women, and Sufis sought to influence the festival even as Ottoman authorities, British colonists, Muslim clerics, and Palestinian national leaders did the same. Drawing on extensive research in Arabic newspapers and Islamic and colonial archives, Halabi reveals how the festival has encapsulated Palestinians' responses to modernity, colonialism, and the nation's growing national identity. Roberto Mazza is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: www.robertomazza.org. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/23/20231 hour, 21 minutes, 26 seconds
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Barak S. Cohen, "For Out of Babylonia Shall Come Torah and the Word of the Lord from Nehar Peqod" (Brill, 2017)

In For Out of Babylonia Shall Come Torah and the Word of the Lord from Nehar Peqod (Brill, 2017), Barak S. Cohen reevaluates the evidence in Tannaitic and Amoraic literature of an independent "Babylonian Mishnah" which originated in the proto-Talmudic period. The book focuses on an analysis of the most notable Halakhic corpora that have been identified by scholars as originating in the Tannaitic period or at the outset of the Amoraic. If indeed such an early corpus did exist, what are its characteristics and what, if any, connection does it have with the parallel Palestinian collections? Was this Babylonian Mishnah created in order to harmonize the Palestinian Mishnah with a corpus of rabbinic teachings already existent in Babylonia? Was this corpus one of the main contributors to the forced interpretations and resolutions found so frequently in the Bavli? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/21/202330 minutes, 37 seconds
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Barak S. Cohen, "The Legal Methodology of Late Nehardean Sages in Sasanian Babylonia" (Brill, 2011)

Barak S. Cohen's The Legal Methodology of Late Nehardean Sages in Sasanian Babylonia (Brill, 2011) consists of a systematic analysis of the halakhic/legal methodology of fourth and fifth century Nehardean amoraim in Babylonia (as well as their identity and dating). The book uncovers various distinct characteristics present in the halakhic decision making and source interpretation, and demonstrates how certain amoraim can be characterized as portraying consistent interpretive and legal approaches throughout talmudic literature. Understanding the methodological characteristics that distinguish some amoraim from other amoraim can aid the talmudic interpreter/scholar in clarifying the legal foundations of their rulings, the proofs that they bring within talmudic discourse, as well as their disputes and interpretations. This allows a better understanding of the development of Jewish Law and the legal system in talmudic Babylonia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/20/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 17 seconds
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Alexander Jabbari, "The Making of Persianate Modernity: Language and Literary History between Iran and India" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Alexander Jabbari’s The Making of Persianate Modernity: Language and Literary History between Iran and India (Cambridge University Press, 2023) narrates the cultural and literary history of one of the world's most significant yet understudied lingua francas. From the ninth to the nineteenth centuries, Persian was the pre-eminent language of learning far beyond Iran, stretching from the Balkans to China. In this book, Alexander Jabbari explores what became of this vast Persian literary heritage in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Iran and South Asia, as nationalism took hold and the Persianate world fractured into nation-states. He shows how Iranians and South Asians drew from their shared past to produce a 'Persianate modernity', and create a modern genre, literary history. Drawing from both Persian and Urdu sources, Jabbari reveals the important role that South Asian Muslims played in developing Iranian intellectual and literary trends. Highlighting cultural exchange in the region, and the agency of Asian modernizers, Jabbari charts a new way forward for area studies and opens exciting possibilities for thinking about language and literature. Alexander Jabbari is an Assistant Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on the literature, history, and philology of the Middle East and South Asia. Can be found on Twitter @yakabikaj. Iskandar Ding is a Ph.D. candidate in Iranian linguistics at SOAS University of London. His research focuses on the syntax of the Yaghnobi language. His other research interests include Tajik dialectology, Sino-Persian heritage, Persianate literature, and modern Persian literature in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. He blogs about the shared lexical heritage of the Persianate cultural sphere and beyond on his blog Vājabāz. Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult sciences, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/16/20231 hour, 16 minutes, 30 seconds
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The Future of Antisemitism: A Discussion with Dave Rich

Few people would describe themselves as antisemites. And yet many Jews living in Europe and the US believe that they encounter anti-semitism quite frequently – so what accounts for these different perceptions? Owen Bennett Jones discusses antisemitism with Dave Rich, author of Everyday Hate: How Antisemitism is Built into our World and How You Can Change It (Backbite, 2023). Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A former BBC correspondent and presenter he has been a resident foreign correspondent in Bucharest, Geneva, Islamabad, Hanoi and Beirut. He is recently wrote a history of the Bhutto dynasty which was published by Yale University Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/15/202358 minutes, 53 seconds
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Chas Smith, "Reports from Hell" (Rare Bird Books, 2020)

While now a prominent and controversial surf journalist, Chas Smith started his career as a war correspondent in the Middle East. Obsessed with Joan Didion, but really working in the tradition of Hunter S. Thompson, he embarked on a series of often ill-fated reporting trips to Yemen and Lebanon. Smith’s adventures ranged from discovering new surfing beaches on the Arabian Peninsula to being kidnapped by Hezbollah. His experiences are chronicled in Reports from Hell with his trademark wry, self-effacing, and ironic, but also insightful, informed, and even touching, prose. Smith’s previous books include Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell: A True Story of Violence, Corruption, and the Soul of Surfing and Cocaine + Surfing: A Sordid History of Surfing's Greatest Love Affair. In 2022, he published Blessed Are the Bank Robbers: The True Adventures of an Evangelical Outlaw, a family history of his Bible preaching and bank robbing uncle. Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/13/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 15 seconds
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Amahl Bishara, "Crossing a Line: Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression" (Stanford UP, 2022)

Palestinians living on different sides of the Green Line make up approximately one-fifth of Israeli citizens and about four-fifths of the population of the West Bank. In both groups, activists assert that they share a single political struggle for national liberation. Yet, obstacles inhibit their ability to speak to each other and as a collective. Geopolitical boundaries fragment Palestinians into ever smaller groups. Crossing a Line: Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression (Stanford UP, 2022) enters these distinct environments for political expression and action of Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship and Palestinians subject to Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, and considers how Palestinians are differently impacted by dispossession, settler colonialism, and militarism. Amahl Bishara looks to sites of political practice—journalism, historical commemorations, street demonstrations, social media, in prison, and on the road—to analyze how Palestinians create collectivities in these varied circumstances. She draws on firsthand research, personal interviews, and public media to examine how people shape and reshape meanings in circumstances of constraint. In considering these different environments for political expression and action, Bishara illuminates how expression is always grounded in place—and how a people can struggle together for liberation even when they cannot join together in protest. Amahl A. Bishara is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University. She is the author of Back Stories: U.S. News Production and Palestinian Politics (Stanford, 2013). Alize Arıcan is a Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Scholar at Boston University, focusing on urban anthropology, futurity, care, and migration. Her work has been featured in Environment and Planning D, Current Anthropology, City & Society, and Radical Housing Journal, among other journals and public-facing platforms. You can find her on Twitter @alizearican. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/9/202349 minutes, 45 seconds
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Jennifer Lynn Kelly, "Invited to Witness: Solidarity Tourism Across Occupied Palestine" (Duke UP, 2023)

In Invited to Witness: Solidarity Tourism Across Occupied Palestine (Duke UP, 2023), Jennifer Lynn Kelly explores the significance of contemporary solidarity tourism across Occupied Palestine. Examining the relationships among race, colonialism, and movement-building in spaces where tourism and military occupation operate in tandem, Kelly argues that solidarity tourism in Palestine functions as both political strategy and emergent industry. She draws from fieldwork on solidarity tours in Palestine/Israel and interviews with guides, organizers, community members, and tourists, asking what happens when tourism is marketed as activism and when anticolonial work functions through tourism. Palestinian organizers, she demonstrates, have refashioned the conventions of tourism by extending invitations to tourists to witness Palestinian resistance and the effects of Israeli state practice on Palestinian land and lives. In so doing, Kelly shows how Palestinian guides and organizers wrest from Israeli control the capacity to invite and the permission to narrate both their oppression and their liberation. Fulya Pinar is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for Middle East Studies at Brown University. Her work focuses on alternative solidarities, displacement, and refugee care in Turkey and the Middle East. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/9/20231 hour, 18 minutes, 2 seconds
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Jonathan A. C. Brown, "Islam and Blackness" (Oneworld Academic, 2022)

Jonathan Brown’s Islam and Blackness (Oneworld Academic, 2022) is a thorough and thoroughly riveting study of the tensions and conceptions of Blackness in Muslim intellectual traditions and social histories, premodern and modern, in a variety of contexts. At once deeply reflective, philologically majestic, and theoretically productive, Islam and Blackness engages and examines a range of texts from a wide expanse of scholarly genres to show that the question of whether Islam is antiblack is immensely complicated and knotty. Unafraid to pose and address difficult and provocative questions on issues of race, class, and difference in Islamic thought, this book not only represents a profound meditation on Islam and Blackness, but is also a painstakingly researched presentation of the depth and complexity of Muslim scholarly traditions and debates more broadly. The ethical perceptiveness of this book competes fiercely with the clarity of its prose and propose, and the intellectual cum political significance of its argument. SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize and was selected as a finalist for the 2021 American Academy of Religion Book Award. His second book is called Perilous Intimacies: Debating Hindu-Muslim Friendship after Empire (Columbia University Press, 2023). His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at [email protected]. Listener feedback is most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
4/7/20231 hour, 36 minutes, 58 seconds
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Eric Alterman, "We Are Not One: A History of America's Fight Over Israel" (Basic Book, 2022)

Fights about the fate of the state of Israel, and the Zionist movement that gave birth to it, have long been a staple of both Jewish and American political culture. In We Are Not One: A History of America’s Fight Over Israel (Basic Books, 2022), Eric Alterman traces this debate from its nineteenth-century origins. Following Israel’s 1948–1949 War of Independence (called the “nakba” or “catastrophe” by Palestinians), few Americans, including few Jews, paid much attention to Israel or the challenges it faced. Following the 1967 Six-Day War, however, almost overnight support for Israel became the primary component of American Jews’ collective identity. Over time, Jewish organizations joined forces with conservative Christians and neoconservative pundits and politicos to wage a tenacious fight to define Israel’s image in the US media, popular culture, Congress, and college campuses. We Are Not One reveals how our consensus on Israel and Palestine emerged and why, today, it is fracturing. Eric Alterman is a CUNY distinguished professor of English at Brooklyn College. Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/30/20231 hour, 5 minutes, 8 seconds
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Sara Koplik, "A Political and Economic History of the Jews of Afghanistan" (Brill, 2015)

A Political and Economic History of the Jews of Afghanistan (Brill, 2015) by Sara Koplik describes the situation of Jews in that country during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly 1839-1952. It examines the political, economic and social conditions they faced as religious minorities. The work focuses upon harsh governmental economic policies of the 1930s and 1940s spearheaded by 'Abd al-Majid Khan Zabuli which caused the impoverishment and suffering of both the local community and refugees from Soviet Central Asia. The question of Nazi influence in Afghanistan is addressed, with the author arguing that it was mainly limited to the economic sphere. An examination of the appeal of Zionism and the community's immigration to Israel is included. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/30/20231 hour, 16 minutes, 13 seconds
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Jill Jarvis, "Decolonizing Memory: Algeria and the Politics of Testimony" (Duke UP, 2021)

In Decolonizing Memory: Algeria and the Politics of Testimony (Duke UP, 2021), Jill Jarvis examines the crucial role that writers and artists have played in cultivating historical memory and nurturing political resistance in Algeria, showing how literature offers the unique ability to reckon with colonial violence and to render the experiences of those marginalized by the state. Brittney Edmonds is an Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison. I specialize in 20th and 21st century African American Literature and Culture with a special interest in Black Humor Studies. Read more about my work at brittneymichelleedmonds.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/26/20231 hour, 6 minutes, 40 seconds
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Jacob Norris, "The Lives and Deaths of Jubrail Dabdoub: Or, How the Bethlehemites Discovered Amerka" (Stanford UP, 2023)

This is the fantastical, yet real, story of the merchants of Bethlehem, the young men who traveled to every corner of the globe in the nineteenth century. These men set off on the backs of donkeys with suitcases full of crosses and rosaries, to return via steamship with suitcases stuffed with French francs, Philippine pesos, or Salvadoran colones. They returned with news of mysterious lands and strange inventions—clocks, trains, and other devices that both befuddled and bewitched the Bethlehemites. With newfound wealth, these merchants built shimmering pink mansions that transformed Bethlehem from a rural village into Palestine's wealthiest and most cosmopolitan town. At the center of these extraordinary occurrences lived Jubrail Dabdoub. The Lives and Deaths of Jubrail Dabdoub: Or, How the Bethlehemites Discovered Amerka" (Stanford UP, 2023) tells the story of Jubrail's encounters, offering a version of Palestinian history rarely acknowledged. From his childhood in rural Bethlehem to later voyages across Europe, East Asia, and the Americas, Jubrail's story culminates in a recorded miracle: in 1909, he was brought back from the dead. To tell such a tale is to delve into the realms of the fantastic and improbable. Through the story of Jubrail's life, Jacob Norris explores the porous lines between history and fiction, the normal and the paranormal, the everyday and the extraordinary. Drawing on aspects of magical realism combined with elements of Palestinian folklore, Norris recovers the atmosphere of late nineteenth-century Bethlehem: a mood of excitement, disorientation, and wonder as the town was thrust into a new era. As the book offers an original approach to historical writing, it captures a fantastic story of global encounter and exchange. Roberto Mazza is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/25/20231 hour, 18 minutes, 25 seconds
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Mejdulene Bernard Shomali, "Between Banat: Queer Arab Critique and Transnational Arab Archives" (Duke UP, 2023)

In Between Banat: Queer Arab Critique and Transnational Arab Archives (Duke UP, 2023), Mejdulene Bernard Shomali examines homoeroticism and non-normative sexualities between Arab women in transnational Arab literature, art, and film.  Moving from The Thousand and One Nights and the Golden Era of Egyptian cinema to contemporary novels, autobiographical writing, and prints and graphic novels that imagine queer Arab futures, Shomali uses what she calls queer Arab critique to locate queer desire amid heteronormative imperatives. Showing how systems of heteropatriarchy and Arab nationalisms foreclose queer Arab women’s futures, she draws on the transliterated term “banat”—the Arabic word for girls—to refer to women, femmes, and nonbinary people who disrupt stereotypical and Orientalist representations of the “Arab woman.” By attending to Arab women’s narration of desire and identity, queer Arab critique substantiates queer Arab histories while challenging Orientalist and Arab national paradigms that erase queer subjects. In this way, Shomali frames queerness and Arabness as relational and transnational subject formations and contends that prioritizing transnational collectivity over politics of authenticity, respectability, and inclusion can help lead toward queer freedom. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/17/202347 minutes, 54 seconds
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Aaron Rock-Singer, "In the Shade of the Sunna: Salafi Piety in the Twentieth-Century Middle East" (U California Press, 2022)

Who are the Salafis, and what are the roots of Salafism? What does it even mean to be Salafi? Why is Salafism concerned with ethics of visibility and bodily regulation? Why, when, and how did Salafism become significant?  In his latest book, In the Shade of the Sunnah: Salafi Piety in the 20th Century Middle East (University of California Press, 2022), Aaron Rock-Singer explores these questions and many more about Salafism. Rock-Singer situates Salafism as a movement whose core logic is shaped by questions that emerge distinctly during modernity even though the movement derives its claims to legitimacy from claims to continuity with early Islamic history. In other words, Salafism is a distinctly modern project that is not rooted in the Islamic legal, textual, or ethical tradition, given that many Salafi practices aren’t rooted in Islamic texts. As a result, Salafis finds themselves in a challenging textual position when seeking religious, textual justification for some practices, such as gender segregation or not praying in shoes. How, then, does Salafism legitimate and ground itself? How is their claim to authenticity premised on continuity with the Islamic seventh century? To answer these questions, Rock-Singer takes a few specific issues, such as gender segregation, beards, the length of the robe or pants, as potent ideological sites that are connected in significant ways to Salafism’s project to regulate social space. These issues were not applied in the early 20th century or prior but became significant in the mid to late 20th century in a specific social and political context. So, for instance, the beard matters not just because it’s an attempt to emulate the Prophet Muhammad but because it’s a visual way of identifying the commitment to emulating Muhammad, to make clear who a Salafi is. In our discussion today, Aaron talks about the origins of this book, its major contributions and findings, the roots of Salafism, its ideas of worship and tawhid (i.e., oneness of God), Salafism’s textual and political challenges, the significance of the regulation of social space, questions of authenticity and continuity, and the issues of beards, praying in shoes, gender segregation, and the length of one’s robe according to Salafi practice. Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She can be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/17/20231 hour, 16 minutes, 23 seconds
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Hilary Falb Kalisman, "Teachers as State-Builders: Education and the Making of the Modern Middle East" (Princeton UP, 2022)

Today, it is hard to imagine a time and place when public school teachers were considered among the elite strata of society. But in the lands controlled by the Ottomans, and then by the British in the early and mid-twentieth century, teachers were key players in government and leading formulators of ideologies. Drawing on archival research and oral histories, Hilary Falb Kalisman's Teachers as State-Builders: Education and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2022) brings to light educators’ outsized role in shaping the politics of the modern Middle East. Kalisman's book tells the story of the few young Arab men—and fewer young Arab women—who were lucky enough to teach public school in the territories that became Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine/Israel. Crossing Ottoman provincial and, later, Mandate and national borders for work and study, these educators were advantageously positioned to assume mid- and even high-level administrative positions in multiple government bureaucracies. All told, over one-third of the prime ministers who served in Iraq from the 1950s through the 1960s, and in Jordan from the 1940s through the early 1970s, were former public school teachers—a trend that changed only when independence, occupation, and mass education degraded the status of teaching. The first history of education across Britain’s Middle Eastern Mandates, this transnational study reframes our understanding of the profession of teaching, the connections between public education and nationalism, and the fluid politics of the interwar Middle East. Reuben Silverman is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
3/15/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 15 seconds
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Joseph W. Peterson, "Sacred Rivals: Catholic Missions and the Making of Islam in Nineteenth-Century France and Algeria" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Upon the French invasion of Algeria in 1830, the territory quickly became a placeholder for French dreams, debates, and experiments in social engineering, economic development and even religious culture. Missionaries and Jesuit priests sent to minister to the new French colonial population there commented favorably on Arab Muslims’ religiosity, seeing in it both the possibility of effective missionization and an example of how religion and civil society might work together. After decades of failed missionary efforts, violent conquest and conflict, and influential international events, liberal Catholics in Algeria like the Bishop Charles Lavigerie—founder of the White Fathers—had abandoned active evangelization and instead embraced a visceral and violent rejection of racialized Islam as the antithesis of French civilization. These transitionary decades serve as the backdrop to Joseph W. Peterson’s wide-ranging and deeply human book, Sacred Rivals: Catholic Missions and the Making of Islam in Nineteenth-century France and Algeria (Oxford UP, 2022). In it, he tells that stories of French Catholic missionaries and the Algerian men and women with whom they interacted, exploring the gray areas between faith and politics, between colonial ideology and colonized experience. Peterson balances micro-historical approaches with an awareness of global events to tell a new story about the role of religion in the development of the French civilizing mission, colonial ethnography and racial pseudo-science, as well as in the construction of regimes of legal difference. Sacred Rivals is deeply readable book and will be of interest to scholars of French Algeria, colonialism, and all those interested in the long and complex history of Christianity and Islam. Sarah K. Miles is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who specializes in global francophone history and the history of the French Left. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send her an email (