Russian nationalism, previously dominated by ‘imperial’ tendencies – pride in a large, strong and multi-ethnic state able to project its influence abroad – is increasingly focused on ethnic issues. This new ethno-nationalism has come in various guises, like racism and xenophobia, but also in a new intellectual movement of ‘national democracy’ deliberately seeking to emulate conservative West European nationalism.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent violent conflict in Eastern Ukraine utterly transformed the nationalist discourse in Russia. This book provides an up-to-date survey of Russian nationalism as a political, social and intellectual phenomenon by leading Western and Russian experts in the field of nationalism studies. It includes case studies on migrantophobia; the relationship between nationalism and religion; nationalism in the media; nationalism and national identity in economic policy; nationalism in the strategy of the Putin regime as well as a survey-based study of nationalism in public opinion.
This volume focuses on interpreting the changing domestic and regional dynamics in the Arab world and Iran. Its chapters discuss an array of countries, events, actors, and issues – from an examination of the Arab Spring and the Tunisian democratic transition, to an exploration of the role of Saudi-Iranian geostrategic rivalry, to the impact of ethnic and sectarian politics in Syria, Iraq, and across the region. Chapters from expert contributors are organized into three parts. The first section of the volume covers the aspects and dynamics of change in the Arab world. The second examines the role of Islam, Islamism, Islamic governance, and sectarian and ethnic politics in the region. The third section focuses on Iranian domestic and regional politics. Yet the theme of transition is constant throughout as this multidisciplinary book draws connections across countries and events to not only inform about the prevailing regional situation, but also to invite readers to draw their own conclusions as to the future of the Middle East. Collectively the volume provides a fresh interpretation of the changing dynamics of the Arab world and Iran, unpacking the complexities of the disputes, conflicts, rivalries, failed goals, and processes of change and development that have made the Muslim Middle East so turbulent, directionless, and perpetually contested by both regional and international actors.
Here is a little good news about Mideast Christians, for a change. Last week, the three principal Christian communities that maintain the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem announced that they have reached agreement on repairs to the Edicule, a nineteenth-century structure that encompasses the Tomb of Christ. At a joint news conference, the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Roman Catholic communities announced that work on the structure, built a little more than 200 years ago, will start right after Orthodox Easter in May and last several months. The three communities will share the costs–about three million euros–and each appoint architects to help with the project. Pilgrims will continue to have access to the site while renovations are underway.
Readers who don’t know the history might fail to appreciate what an accomplishment this is. The three communities share the church, along with some smaller Christian communions, according to the terms of the Status Quo, a compilation of customs that dates to Ottoman times. The Status Quo governs the relationship among the communities in minute detail: which can use which altars at which times, how many lamps each community is allowed, and so on. Relations are often fractious. Because, under the Status Quo, maintaining or paying for repairs of a structure asserts ownership, each community has an incentive to prevent others from undertaking renovation projects. Needed repairs are often delayed until the situation becomes truly dire—as is the case with the Edicule, which has been held together by scaffolding since the 1940s.As Israeli scholar Raymond Cohen explains in a masterful history, Saving the Holy Sepulchre, it took the communities decades to agree on a plan to fix the church’s dome, and they reached agreement only when the dome was about to fall down. That project, the last major renovation of the church, was completed about 20 years ago.
Well, relations have improved. The new situation reflects in part what Pope Francis has called the “ecumenism of blood.” The persecution of Mideast Christians does not respect confessional boundaries. When ISIS is slaughtering your people, disputes about lamps do not seem so vital. The Facebook page of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which represents the Armenian Apostolic Church, has pictures of the three happy Christian leaders at the news conference (above). Peace, it’s wonderful. Let’s hope the good feelings last for the upcoming Holy Fire ceremony at Easter, which often occasions conflict. Fistfights are not unknown.
China and Islam examines the intersection of two critical issues of the contemporary world: Islamic revival and an assertive China, questioning the assumption that Islamic law is incompatible with state law. It finds that both Hui and the Party-State invoke, interpret, and make arguments based on Islamic law, a minjian (unofficial) law in China, to pursue their respective visions of ‘the good’. Based on fieldwork in Linxia, ‘China’s Little Mecca’, this study follows Hui clerics, youthful translators on the ‘New Silk Road’, female educators who reform traditional madrasas, and Party cadres as they reconcile Islamic and socialist laws in the course of the everyday. The first study of Islamic law in China and one of the first ethnographic accounts of law in postsocialist China, China and Islam unsettles unidimensional perceptions of extremist Islam and authoritarian China through Hui minjian practices of law.
In May, Lexington Books will release “Islamic Law and Muslim Same-Sex Unions” by Junaid Jahangir (MacEwan University) and Hussein Abdullatif (pediatric endocrinologist, Children’s Hospital of Alabama & University of Alabama Hospital). The publisher’s description follows:
This book is written with the objective of reasonably addressing the need of Muslim gays and lesbians for a life which involves intimacy, affection and companionship within the confines of a legal contract. Contemporary conservative Muslim leaders unreasonably promote false marriages with straight spouses, failing which they prescribe the “solution” of permanent celibacy as a “test.” This book delves into an extensive scholarship on the same sources that conservative Muslim leaders draw on—the Qur’an, Hadith and jurisprudence. It is argued that the primary sources of Muslim knowledge addressed sexual acts between the same gender in the context of inhospitality, exploitation, coercion and disease, but not true same-sex unions; past Muslim scholarship is silent on the issue of sexual orientation and Muslim same-sex unions. The arguments of contemporary conservative Muslim leaders are deconstructed and the case for Muslim same-sex unions is made based on jurisprudential principles and thorough arguments from within the Muslim tradition.
In May, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “Sacred Violence in Early America,” by Susan Juster (University of Michigan). The publisher’s description follows:
Sacred Violence in Early America offers a sweeping reinterpretation of the violence endemic to seventeenth-century English colonization by reexamining some of the key moments of cultural and religious encounter in North America. Susan Juster explores different forms of sacred violence—blood sacrifice, holy war, malediction, and iconoclasm—to uncover how European traditions of ritual violence developed during the wars of the Reformation were introduced and ultimately transformed in the New World.
Juster’s central argument concerns the rethinking of the relationship between the material and the spiritual worlds that began with the Reformation and reached perhaps its fullest expression on the margins of empire. The Reformation transformed the Christian landscape from an environment rich in sounds, smells, images, and tactile encounters, both divine and human, to an austere space of scriptural contemplation and prayer. When English colonists encountered the gods and rituals of the New World, they were forced to confront the unresolved tensions between the material and spiritual within their own religious practice. Accounts of native cannibalism, for instance, prompted uneasy comparisons with the ongoing debate among Reformers about whether Christ was bodily present in the communion wafer.
Sacred Violence in Early America reveals the Old World antecedents of the burning of native bodies and texts during the seventeenth-century wars of extermination, the prosecution of heretics and blasphemers in colonial courts, and the destruction of chapels and mission towns up and down the North American seaboard. At the heart of the book is an analysis of “theologies of violence” that gave conceptual and emotional shape to English colonists’ efforts to construct a New World sanctuary in the face of enemies both familiar and strange: blood sacrifice, sacramentalism, legal and philosophical notions of just and holy war, malediction, the contest between “living” and “dead” images in Christian idology, and iconoclasm.
This book gathers the voices of four local Hong Kong theologians to reflect on the 2014 democracy protests in the city from the perspectives of Catholic social teaching, feminist and queer intersectionality, Protestant liberation, and textual exegesis. The volume also includes an extended primer on Hong Kong politics to aid readers as they reflect on the theology underlying the democracy protests.
September 28, 2014 is known as the day that political consciousness in Hong Kong began to shift. As police fired eighty-seven volleys of tear gas at protesters demanding “genuine universal suffrage” in Hong Kong, the movement (termed the “Umbrella Movement”) ignited a polarizing set of debates over civil disobedience, government collusion with private interests, and democracy. The Umbrella Movement was also a theological watershed moment, a time for religious reflection. This book analyzes the role that religion played in shaping the course of this historic movement.
In May, Oxford University Press will release “Buddhism and Political Theory” by Matthew J. Moore (California Polytechnic State University). The publisher’s description follows:
Despite the recent upsurge of interest in comparative political theory, there has been virtually no serious examination of Buddhism by political philosophers in the past five decades. In part, this is because Buddhism is not typically seen as a school of political thought.
However, as Matthew Moore argues, Buddhism simultaneously parallels and challenges many core assumptions and arguments in contemporary Western political theory. In brief, Western thinkers not only have a great deal to learn about Buddhism, they have a great deal to learn from it. To both incite and facilitate the process of Western theorists engaging with this neglected tradition, this book provides a detailed, critical reading of the key primary Buddhist texts, from the earliest recorded teachings of the Buddha through the present day. It also discusses the relevant secondary literature on Buddhism and political theory (nearly all of it from disciplines other than political theory), as well as the literatures on particular issues addressed in the argument.
Moore argues that Buddhist political thought rests on three core premises–that there is no self, that politics is of very limited importance in human life, and that normative beliefs and judgments represent practical advice about how to live a certain way, rather than being obligatory commands about how all persons must act. He compares Buddhist political theory to what he sees as Western analogues–Nietzsche’s similar but crucially different theory of the self, Western theories of limited citizenship from Epicurus to John Howard Yoder, and to the Western tradition of immanence theories in ethics. This will be the first comprehensive treatment of Buddhism as political theory.
This book provides an economic analysis of the earliest Islamic society, focusing on the policies of the Messenger of Islam (Sawa) and his successors during the first four formative decades of Islam. Two institutions of great importance – the market and the public treasury (Baitul Mal) – and their roles in the development of the private and public sectors are particularly emphasized in this study. The first part of the book is devoted to the economic and cultural dimensions of life in the Arabian Peninsula during the pre-Islamic period, including an analysis of trade and financial relationships with the Roman and Persian economies; the challenges faced by the Messenger’s mission and the economic policies of the Messenger after the migration to Madinah are also examined in detail. The author then moves on to a devoted analysis of the nature and functions of the public treasury, its revenues and expenditures, as well as financial and fiscal policies. Also examined is the role of the public sector in maintaining equilibrium in the financial and real sectors, as well as in promoting economic growth and employment. Analysis of the institution of the market, its characteristics, and its functions during the earliest Islamic period constitutes the third section of the book. The behaviors of consumers, producers, and investors in an economy without an interest rate mechanism are also addressed here. The final section investigates the fundamental objective of Islam for human societies – that is, justice – within the context of discussions in earlier parts of the book. The author uses historical economic data, facts, and evidences that are reported from the period, both prior to and after the establishment of the Islamic State, to explore the economic relations, policies, and models that were in practice and applied at that time.