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 February, Oxford University Press released Fridays of Rage: Al Jazeera, the Arab Spring, and Political Islam by Sam Cherribi (Emory University). The publisher’s description follows:
Fridays of Rage reveals Al Jazeera’s rise to that most respected of all Western media positions: the watchdog of democracy. Al Jazeera served as the nursery for the Arab world’s democratic revolutions, promoting Friday as a “day of rage” and popular protest. This book provides a glimpse into how Al Jazeera strategically cast its journalists as martyrs in the struggle for Arab freedom while promoting itself as the mouthpiece and advocate of the Arab public.
In addition to heralding a new era of Arab democracy, Al Jazeera has become a major influence over Arab perceptions of American involvement in the Arab World, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the rise of global Islamic fundamentalism, and the expansion of the political far right. Al Jazeera’s blueprint for “Muslim-democracy” was part of a vision announced by the network during its earliest broadcasts. The network embarked upon a mission to reconstruct the Arab mindset and psyche. Al Jazeera introduced exiled Islamist leaders to the larger Arab public while also providing Muslim feminists a platform.
The inclusion and consideration of Westerners, Israelis, Hamas, secularists and others earned the network a reputation for pluralism and inclusiveness. Al Jazeera presented a mirror to an Arab world afraid to examine itself and its democratic deficiencies. But rather than assuming that Al Jazeera is a monolithic force for positive transformation in Arab society, Fridays of Rage examines the potentially dark implications of Al Jazeera’s radical re-conceptualization of media as a strategic tool or weapon.
As a powerful and rapidly evolving source of global influence, Al Jazeera embodies many paradoxes-the manifestations and effects of which we are likely only now becoming apparent. Fridays of Rage guides readers through this murky territory, where journalists are martyrs, words are weapons, and facts are bullets.
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 politics 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
In November, the University of Chicago Press released “Islamic State: Rewriting History” by Michael Griffin (journalist). The publisher’s description follows:
When the attacks of September 11 sent Westerners in search of reliable information about Al Qaida, Michael Griffin was there: his book Reaping the Whirlwind quickly became the go-to resource for the media, political figures, and ordinary citizens alike.
Now, as Islamic State (also known as ISIS) is moving to take over broad swathes of territory throughout the Middle East, Griffin is back once again, ready to offer nuanced insight, analysis, history, and context for readers looking to understand this new and frightening threat.
An experienced journalist, Griffin tells the story of the development of the Islamic State in his usual fast-paced, narrative driven style, helping us to understand the long roots of the Islamic State in Iraq, their quiet involvement in the Arab Spring, and their rapid rise amid the chaos generated by the Syrian war. He clearly and carefully presents the interlocking web of influence, arms, and money from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and Iraq that have fuelled the rise of Islamic State, and highlights the importance of the uprising against Assad in Syria and the West’s relative inability to influence or support it. Ultimately, Griffin offers a portrait of a complicated, multivalent movement, one with roots in numerous real or perceived grievances and historical mistakes and one with the potential to foment unrest and violence throughout the Middle East for some time to come.
In November, Praeger will release “Hezbollah: From Islamic Resistance to Government” by James Worrall, Simon Mabon, and Gordon Clubb. The publisher’s description follows:
This is the first book of its kind to offer a comprehensive study of Hezbollah, providing an overview of the organization’s key personalities, events, and structures over the past three decades. Inspired by the latest terrorism research and contemporary developments in the Middle East, the book reflects upon Hezbollah’s religious foundations and its present role as a player in Middle East relations.
Chapters place Hezbollah within the Middle East security environment, analyzing the rise of the Party of God within the context of Iranian-inspired Shi’a activism, examining the ideological underpinnings of the movement, and addressing its dominant political position post Arab Spring. This authoritative volume introduces the party’s full range of activities, including resistance, propaganda, organized crime, and educational facilities. The content highlights Hezbollah’s role as a social welfare provider—specifically, the types of aid given, the source of financing for the endeavor, and the challenge this role presents to the Lebanese state.
This month, Edinburgh University Press releases “Diasporas of the Modern Middle East: Contextualising Community” edited by Anthony Gorman (University of Edinburgh) and Sossie Kasbarian (University of Lancaster). The publisher’s description follows:
Approaching the Middle East through the lens of Diaspora Studies, the 11 detailed case studies in this volume explore the experiences of different diasporic communities in and of the region, and look at the changing conceptions and practice of diaspora in the modern Middle East. They show how concepts central to diaspora such as ‘homeland’, ‘host state’, ‘exile’, ‘longing’, ‘memory’ and ‘return’ have been deconstructed and reinstated with new meaning through each complex diasporic experience. They also examine how different groups have struggled to claim and negotiate a space for themselves in the Middle East, and the ways in which these efforts have been aided and hampered by the historical, social, legal, political, economic, colonial and post-colonial specificities of the region.
In situating these different communities within their own narratives – of conflict, resistance, war, genocide, persecution, displacement, migration – these studies stress both the common elements of diaspora but also their individual specificity in a way that challenges, complements and at times subverts the dominant nationalist historiography of the region.
This November, Georgetown University Press will publish Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking edited by Timothy D. Sisk (University of Denver). The publisher’s description follows.
Civil war and conflict within countries is the most prevalent threat to peace and security in the opening decades of the twenty-first century. A pivotal factor in the escalation of tensions to open conflict is the role of elites in exacerbating tensions along identity lines by giving the ideological justification, moral reasoning, and call to violence. Between Terror and Tolerance examines the varied roles of religious leaders in societies deeply divided by ethnic, racial, or religious conflict. The chapters in this book explore cases when religious leaders have justified or catalyzed violence along identity lines, and other instances when religious elites have played a critical role in easing tensions or even laying the foundation for peace and reconciliation.
From Columbia University Press, a new book by Laurence Louër (research fellow at CERI/ SciencesPo in Paris), Shi’ism and Politics in the Middle East (forthcoming May 2012). The publisher’s description follows.
Laurence Louër’s timely study immediately precedes the recent outbreak of unrest in Bahrain, triggering the escalation of the so-called Arab Spring of 2011. In addition to issues relating to the role of Shiite Islamist movements in regional politics, Louër provides background for the Bahraini conflict and Shiism’s wider implications as a political force in the Arab Middle East.
Louër’s study depicts Bahrain’s troubles as a phenomenon rooted in local perceptions of injustice rather than in the fallout from Shiite Iran’s foreign policies. More generally, her work argues that although Iran’s Islamic Revolution had an electrifying effect on Shiite movements in Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf, in the end local political imperatives are the crucial driver of developments within Shiite movements—though Lebanon’s Hezbollah remains an exception. In addition, the rise of lay activists within Shiite movements across the Middle East and the emergence of Shiite anticlericalism has diminished the overwhelming influence of the Shiite clerical institution. Ultimately, Louër dispells the myth that Iran determines the politics of Iraq, Bahrain, and other Arab states with significant Shiite populations. Her book couldn’t be more necessary as revolution continues to spread across the Middle East.