“Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring” (Roberts et al, eds.)

In March, the Oxford University Press released “Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters,” edited by Adam Roberts (University of Oxford), Michael J. Willis (University of Oxford), Rory McCarthy (University of Oxford), and Timothy Garton Ash (University of Oxford).  The publisher’s description follows:

Civil resistance, especially in the form of massive peaceful demonstrations, was at the heart of the Arab Spring-the chain of events in the Middle East and North Africa that 9780198749028
erupted in December 2010. It won some notable victories: popular movements helped to bring about the fall of authoritarian governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Yet these apparent triumphs of non-violent action were followed by disasters–wars in Syria, anarchy in Libya and Yemen, reversion to authoritarian rule in Egypt, and counter-revolution backed by external intervention in Bahrain. Looming over these events was the enduring divide between the Sunni and Shi’a branches of Islam.

Why did so much go wrong? Was the problem the methods, leadership and aims of the popular movements, or the conditions of their societies? In this book, experts on these countries, and on the techniques of civil resistance, set the events in their historical, social and political contexts. They describe how governments and outside powers–including the US and EU–responded, how Arab monarchies in Jordan and Morocco undertook to introduce reforms to avert revolution, and why the Arab Spring failed to spark a Palestinian one. They indicate how and why Tunisia remained, precariously, the country that experienced the most political change for the lowest cost in bloodshed.

This book provides a vivid illustrated account and rigorous scholarly analysis of the course and fate, the strengths and the weaknesses, of the Arab Spring. The authors draw clear and challenging conclusions from these tumultuous events. Above all, they show how civil resistance aiming at regime change is not enough: building the institutions and the trust necessary for reforms to be implemented and democracy to develop is a more difficult but equally crucial task.

Chalcraft, “Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East”

In March, Cambridge University Press released “Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East,” by John Chalcraft (London School of Economics). The publisher’s description follows:

The waves of protest ignited by the self-immolation of Muhammad Bouazizi in Tunisia in late 2010 highlighted for an international audience the importance of contentious 9781107007505politics in the Middle East and North Africa. John Chalcraft’s ground-breaking account of popular protest emphasizes the revolutionary modern history of the entire region. Challenging top-down views of Middle Eastern politics, he looks at how commoners, subjects and citizens have long mobilised in defiance of authorities. Chalcraft takes examples from a wide variety of protest movements from Morocco to Iran. He forges a new narrative of change over time, creating a truly comparative framework rooted in the dynamics of hegemonic contestation. Beginning with movements under the Ottomans, which challenged corruption and oppression under the banners of religion, justice, rights and custom, this book goes on to discuss the impact of constitutional movements, armed struggles, nationalism and independence, revolution and Islamism. A work of unprecedented range and depth, this volume will be welcomed by undergraduates and graduates studying protest in the region and beyond.

  • Surveys protest movements from Morocco to Iran, from the eighteenth century to the present
  • Based on an original conceptual framework that challenges both socioeconomic determinism and power-lite theories of contentious politics
  • Challenges top-down views of politics in the modern Middle East, giving a narrative of overall transformation that includes popular politics

“North Africa Under Byzantium and Early Islam” (Stevens and Conant, eds.)

In March, the Harvard University Press will release “North Africa Under Byzantium and Early Islam,” edited by Susan T. Stevens (Randolph College) and Jonathan P. Conant (Brown University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The profound economic and strategic significance of the province of “Africa” made the Maghreb highly contested in the Byzantine period—by the Roman 9780884024088-lg(Byzantine) empire, Berber kingdoms, and eventually also Muslim Arabs—as each group sought to gain, control, and exploit the region to its own advantage. Scholars have typically taken the failure of the Byzantine endeavor in Africa as a foregone conclusion. North Africa under Byzantium and Early Islam reassesses this pessimistic vision both by examining those elements of Romano-African identity that provided continuity in a period of remarkable transition, and by seeking to understand the transformations in African society in the context of the larger post-Roman Mediterranean. Chapters in this book address topics including the legacy of Vandal rule in Africa, historiography and literature, art and architectural history, the archaeology of cities and their rural hinterlands, the economy, the family, theology, the cult of saints, Berbers, and the Islamic conquest, in an effort to consider the ways in which the imperial legacy was re-interpreted, re-imagined, and put to new uses in Byzantine and early Islamic Africa.

Ijatuyi-Morphé, “Africa’s Social and Religious Quest: A Comprehensive Survey and Analysis of the African Situation”

Next month, University Press of America will publish Africa’s Social and 0761862684Religious Quest: A Comprehensive Survey and Analysis of the African Situation, by Randee Ijatuyi-Morphé (ECWA Theological Seminary, Nigeria). The publisher’s description follows.

This well-crafted book probes the key dimensions of Africa’s existential predicament. It constitutes an intellectual response to a gnawing “African situation”—the starting point for grasping Africa’s social and religious quest. Beyond split explanations of external versus internal factors (e.g., colonization/slavery vs. leadership/cultural values), this study accounts more comprehensively for emergent issues shaping this situation. The situation reflects a gamut of problems in traditional African religion and material culture, which hitherto defines African communality, polities, and destinies vis-à-vis the cosmos and nature. Thus, African religion and communities, each with its own attendant values, do not operate by critical engagement with larger issues of society and civilization, especially those shaped by the advent of (post-) modernity. Rather, they operate via adaptation. The communal drive for natural and social harmony inevitably produces a preservationist view of culture (“leaving things as they are”). This study takes an integrative approach to religion, society, and civilization; eschews dichotomies; and broadly defines and re-signifies life and wholeness as a true end of Africans’ quest today.

Foster, “Faith in Empire”

In March, the Stanford University Press will publish Faith in Empire: Religion, Politics, and Colonial Rule in French Senegal, 1880-1940 by Elizabeth A. Foster (Tufts University). The publisher’s description follows.Faith in Empire

Faith in Empire is an innovative exploration of French colonial rule in West Africa, conducted through the prism of religion and religious policy. Elizabeth Foster examines the relationships among French Catholic missionaries, colonial administrators, and Muslim, animist, and Christian Africans in colonial Senegal between 1880 and 1940. In doing so she illuminates the nature of the relationship between the French Third Republic and its colonies, reveals competing French visions of how to approach Africans, and demonstrates how disparate groups of French and African actors, many of whom were unconnected with the colonial state, shaped French colonial rule. Among other topics, the book provides historical perspective on current French controversies over the place of Islam in the Fifth Republic by exploring how Third Republic officials wrestled with whether to apply the legal separation of church and state to West African Muslims.

Marshall, Gilbert & Shea, “Persecuted”

This March, Thomas Nelson will publish Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians (2013) by Paul Marshall (Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom), Lela Gilbert (Adjunct Fellow, Hudson Institute) and Nina Shea (Director, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom). The publisher’s description follows.Persecuted

Christians are the world’s most widely persecuted religious group, according to studies by the Pew Research Center, Newsweek, and the Economist, among others.

A woman is caught with a Bible and publicly shot to death. An elderly priest is abducted and never seen again. Three buses full of students and teachers are struck by roadside bombs. These are not casualties of a war. These are Christian believers being persecuted for their faith in the twenty-first century.

Many Americans do not understand that Christians today are victims in many parts of the world. Even many Western Christians, who worship and pray without fear of violent repercussions, are unaware that so many followers of Christ live under governments and among people who are often openly hostile to their faith. They think martyrdom became a rarity long ago.

Persecuted soundly refutes these assumptions. This book offers a glimpse at the modern-day life of Christians worldwide, recounting the ongoing attacks that rarely make international headlines.

As Western Christians pray for the future of Christ’s church, it is vital that they understand a large part of the world’s Christian believers live in danger. Persecuted gives documented accounts of the persecution of Christians in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and former Soviet nations. It contains vivid stories of men and women who suffer abuse because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and tells of their perseverance and courage.

Persecuted is far more than a thorough and moving study of this global pattern of violence—it is a cry for freedom and a call to action.

McMahon, “Slavery and Emancipation in Islamic East Africa”

From Cambridge University Press, a new monograph on the abolition of slavery in Africa 100 years ago, Slavery and Emancipation in Islamic East Africa (2013), by Tulane professor Elizabeth McMahon. The publisher’s description follows:

Examining the process of abolition on the island of Pemba off the East African coast in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this book demonstrates the links between emancipation and the redefinition of honor among all classes of people on the island. By examining the social vulnerability of ex-slaves and the former slave-owning elite caused by the Abolition order of 1897, this study argues that moments of resistance on Pemba reflected an effort to mitigate vulnerability rather than resist the hegemonic power of elites or the colonial state. As the meanings of the Swahili word heshima shifted from honor to respectability, individuals’ reputations came under scrutiny and the Islamic kadhi and colonial courts became an integral location for interrogating reputations in the community. This study illustrates the ways in which former slaves used piety, reputation, gossip, education, kinship, and witchcraft to negotiate the gap between emancipation and local notions of belonging.

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