In April, the University of California Press will release “States of Separation: Transfer, Partition, and the Making of the Modern Middle East,” by Laura Robson (Portland State University). The publisher’s description follows:
Across the Middle East in the post–World War I era, European strategic moves converged with late Ottoman political practice and a newly emboldened Zionist movement to create an unprecedented push to physically divide ethnic and religious minorities from Arab Muslim majorities. States of Separation tells how the interwar Middle East became a site for internationally sanctioned experiments in ethnic separation enacted through violent strategies of population transfer and ethnic partition.
During Britain’s and France’s interwar occupation of Iraq, Palestine, and Syria, the British and French mandate governments and the League of Nations undertook a series of varied but linked campaigns of ethnic removal and separation targeting the Armenian, Assyrian, and Jewish communities within these countries. Such schemes served simultaneously as a practical method of controlling colonial subjects and as a rationale for imposing a neo-imperial international governance, with long-standing consequences for the region.
Placing the histories of Iraq, Palestine, and Syria within a global context of emerging state systems intent on creating new forms of international authority, in States of Separation Laura Robson sheds new light on the emergence of ethnic separatism in the modern Middle East.
In March, Brill Publishers will release The Crisis of Citizenship in the Arab World edited by Roel Meijer (Radboud University) and Nils Butenschon (University of Oslo). The publisher’s description follows:
The Crisis of Citizenship in the Arab World argues that the present crisis of the Arab world has its origins in the historical, legal and political development of state-citizen relations since the beginning of modern history in the Middle East and North Africa. The anthology covers three main topics. Part I focuses on the crisis of the social pact in different Arab countries as it became manifest during the Arab Uprisings. Part II concentrates on concepts of citizenship in Islamic doctrine, Islamic movements (Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism), secular political movements and Arab thinkers. Part III looks into the practices that support the claims to equal rights as well as the factors that have obstructed full citizen rights, such as patronage and clientelism.
Contributors are: Ida Almestad, Claire Beaugrand, Assia Boutaleb, Michaelle Browers, Nils Butenschøn, Anthony Gorman, Raymond Hinnebusch, Engin F. Isin, Rania Maktabi, Roel Meijer, Emin Poljarevic, Ola Rifai, James Sater, Rachel Scott, Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen, Robert Springborg, Stig Stenslie, Morten Valbjørn, Knut S. Vikør and Sami Zemni.
This month, St. Martin’s Press releases “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World,” by Shadi Hamid (Brookings Institution). The publisher’s description follows:
In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, “exceptional” in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. Divides among citizens aren’t just about power but are products of fundamental disagreements over the very nature and purpose of the modern nation state—and the vexing problem of religion’s role in public life. Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying—and alarmingly successful—example of ISIS.
With unprecedented access to Islamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid offers a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region’s descent into violence. Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam’s past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics. We don’t have to like it, but we have to understand it—because Islam, as a religion and as an idea, will continue to be a force that shapes not just the region, but the West as well in the decades to come.
In March, Oxford University Press released “Crowds and Sultans: Urban Protest in Late Medieval Egypt and Syria,” by Amina Elbendary (American University in Cairo). The publisher’s description follows:
During the fifteenth century, the Mamluk sultanate that had ruled Egypt and Syria since 1249-50 faced a series of sustained economic and political challenges to its rule, from the effects of recurrent plagues to changes in international trade routes. Both these challenges and the policies and behaviors of rulers and subjects in response to them left profound impressions on Mamluk state and society, precipitating a degree of social mobility and resulting in new forms of cultural expression. These transformations were also reflected in the frequent reports of protests during this period, and led to a greater diffusion of power and the opening up of spaces for political participation by Mamluk subjects and negotiations of power between ruler and ruled.
Rather than tell the story of this tumultuous century solely from the point of view of the Mamluk dynasty, Crowds and Sultans places the protests within the framework of long-term transformations, arguing for a more nuanced and comprehensive narrative of Mamluk state and society in late medieval Egypt and Syria. Reports of urban protest and the ways in which alliances between different groups in Mamluk society were forged allow us glimpses into how some medieval Arab societies negotiated power, showing that rather than stoically endure autocratic governments, populations often resisted and renegotiated their positions in response to threats to their interests.
This rich and thought-provoking study will appeal to specialists in Mamluk history, Islamic studies, and Arab history, as well as to students and scholars of Middle East politics and government and modern history.
Next month, Palgrave Macmillan will release “The Arab World and Iran: A Turbulent Region in Transition,” edited by Amin Saikal (Australian National University). The publisher’s description follows:
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.
This month, Oxford University Press will release “A Political Theory for the Jewish People” by Chaim Gans (Tel Aviv University). The publisher’s description follows:
Chaim Gans’s A Political Theory for the Jewish People examines the two dominant interpretations of Zionism, contrasts them with post-Zionist alternatives, and develops a third model. Along with exploring the historiographic, philosophical and moral foundations of each of these approaches, Gans considers their implications for the relationship between Jews and Arabs in Israel/Palestine as well as the relationship between Israeli and diasporic Jews.
Proprietary Zionism, Gans argues, is the version that is most popular among the Israeli Jewish public. It conceives of the land of Israel/historic Palestine as the property of the Jewish people. It also conceives of the entire Jewish people as belonging to Israel. Hierarchical Zionism is common among Israel’s educated elites and interprets the Jewish right to self-determination as a right to hegemony within the Israeli state. It remains silent on the issue of the relationship between Israeli and non-Israeli Jews. Post-Zionist approaches, conversely, thoroughly reject these Zionist narratives regarding Jewish history and critique the rationale for the continued existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish state.
Gans disagrees with all of these approaches, and in their stead advocates egalitarian Zionism, which is based on an egalitarian interpretation of the right to national self-determination and derives from the justifications for Zionism in its early years. As such, it interprets the historical link between the Jews and the land of Israel in terms of identity rather than property. It also views the link between Israel and world Jewry as a matter of choice for individual Jews–not as a matter of necessity, inextricably bound to their essence as Jews. He sees it as preferable to both the dominant strands of Zionism but also to the major contemporary anti-Zionist approaches: first, that of the Israeli post-Zionists offering a civic or post-colonial vision of a non-Jewish state, and, secondly, that of the mostly American post-Zionists who have a neo-diasporic vision for both Israeli and non-Israeli Jews in which the connection to the land of Israel is loose at best. Ultimately, the book argues that egalitarian Zionism is superior to its rivals both in the authenticity of its relationship to Jewish history and in its implications for denizens of Israeland Jews around the world.
Next month, Yale will publish Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Barry Rubin (Interdisciplinary Center, Israel) and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz (Interdisciplinary Center, Israel). The publisher’s description follows.
During the 1930s and 1940s, a unique and lasting political alliance was forged among Third Reich leaders, Arab nationalists, and Muslim religious authorities. From this relationship sprang a series of dramatic events that, despite their profound impact on the course of World War II, remained secret until now. In this groundbreaking book, esteemed Middle East scholars Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz uncover for the first time the complete story of this dangerous alliance and explore its continuing impact on Arab politics in the twenty-first century. Rubin and Schwanitz reveal, for example, the full scope of Palestinian leader Amin al-Husaini’s support of Hitler’s genocidal plans against European and Middle Eastern Jews. In addition, they expose the extent of Germany’s long-term promotion of Islamism and jihad. Drawing on unprecedented research in European, American, and Middle East archives, many recently opened and never before written about, the authors offer new insight on the intertwined development of Nazism and Islamism and its impact on the modern Middle East.