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Political Economy

The Flow and Entrapment of Syrian Jazira Music

[Crop of Image of Omar Souleyman performing at Perth International Arts Festival 2011. Image by Stuart Sevastos.]

I was surprised when I received an email from a Palestinian friend asking if I would like to go to a concert by a Syrian singer, Omar Souleyman, who was performing at a popular club in central London in 2010. The email included a link to a YouTube clip of Souleyman singing at a local wedding in Syria. I was familiar with Souleyman’s genre of music and knew to correctly associate it with the northeast region of the country, known as the Jazira, but I had never heard of him before. A group of us eventually went to the concert. Preceded by a Japanese band, Souleyman took the stage wearing the traditional dress of thob and kuffiyya. Seemingly the only Arabs in the club, ...

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لم يكن في خطتنا أن ننتصر

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مدخل حينما تنتهي مباراة في كرة القدم بين أحد فرق القمة وأحد فرق القاع في الدوري المصري بالتعادل غالباً ما يصف المعلق النتيجة بأنها تعادل بطعم الهزيمة لفريق القمة وبطعم الفوز لفريق القاع. ذلك أن المنافسة/المعركة لا تدور في الفراغ بل في واقع يخص الفريقين وأهدافهما من المعركة وبالتالي فإن الفوز والهزيمة يتم تحديدهما طبقاً لأهداف كل فريق قبل المعركة وما أسفرت عنه المعركة. فإن كان هدف فريق القاع من الدخول في المباراة مع فريق القمة هو التعادل فإن نهاية المباراة بالتعادل يُعد فوزا والعكس بالنسبة  لفريق القمة، الذي يّعد التعادل بالنسبة له هزيمة. حين نتفاعل إذن مع ما يعتبره الجمهور الأعظم لثورة يناير هزيمة لهم وللثورة لابد أولاً أن نفهم سياق المعركة التي أسفرت عن تلك ...

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Labor Strikes in the GCC: Deportations and Victories in 2014

[Migrant Rights logo. Image from migrant-rights.org]

[The following report was originally published by Migrant Rights on 29 October 2014.] The crackdowns on migrant workers in the GCC do not succeed in silencing migrant dissent. Last year, hundreds of thousands were deported, after being targeted, detained, and mistreated in the Gulf region. Stringent nationalization laws maintain a xenophobic atmosphere around migrant populations who constitute the majority in GCC (up to 85% in countries such as Qatar). As authorities and media continue to make migrants more vulnerable, some resort to labor strikes as a solution to their continuing oppression. Here, we examine the different ways in which major strikes were handled by ...

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Debt and Obligation in Contemporary Ramallah

[Banners by Bank of Palestine advertising savings. Photo by C. Harker]

A recent advertisement for a Bank of Palestine savings scheme, reproduced on billboards and in magazines all over the Ramallah-al-Bireh-Beitounia conurbation (hereafter Ramallah), tells residents “Together We Are a Family.” We are clearly meant to think that the Bank of Palestine wants, or considers itself, to be part of the family. Although counterintuitive, this proposition embodies the ways in which banks have become increasingly part of intimate urban life in the central city of the occupied West Bank. This is not least because residents owe increasingly large sums of money to those banks. In this essay I chart the ways financial debt has proliferated in Ramallah. ...

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Egypt’s Conservative Nationalism: Discourse and Praxis of the New Regime

[Posters on sale saluting Egypt's presidential generals--Nasser, Sadat, and al-Sisi. Photo by Sharif Kouddous]

Egypt has been witnessing a tidal wave of conservative nationalism since June 30 and particularly as the new regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi takes hold. Conservative nationalism cuts across regime discourse on local politics, the economy, and foreign relations. The usage of the term discourse here goes beyond mere rhetoric that may refer to the employment of empty words and slogans in a way divorced from actual political practice. Conversely, discourse is an analytical tool that intimately links rhetoric with practice. It depicts how the new military-backed regime constitutes itself vis-à-vis its supporters as well as its rivals and how it perceives itself, both ...

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Le projet de ville nouvelle Bio-Istanbul: Un urbanisme spéculatif, ségrégatif et durable

Maquette Bio-Istanbul. Photo Elvan Arik.

Ekolojik (écologique), yeşil (vert), doğal (naturel) ou akıllı (intelligente équivalent du smart anglais), tels sont les nouveaux concepts de plus en plus mis en avant par les brochures publicitaires des projets immobiliers à Istanbul. Labélisés du sceau de la «durabilité» (sürdürülebilirlik en turc), terminologie ayant signé son entrée dans le vocabulaire des politiques urbaines depuis le début des années 2000 en Turquie (Pérouse 2011), ces projets témoignent-ils pour autant des nouvelles manières de penser et de produire l’urbain dans la métropole stambouliote? Pour répondre à cette interrogation, il nous paraît utile dans un temps introductif de ...

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Evden Emlaga Fikirtepe: Rant ve Spekulasyon Ekseninde Kentsel Donusum

[Fikirtepe. Photo by Duygu Parmaksizoglu.]

Evden Emlağa Fikirtepe: Rant ve Spekülasyon Ekseninde Kentsel Dönüşüm  Bir şehir antropoloğunun saha notları Saha çalışmasına başladığım 2013 yılının Mart ayında Fikirtepe bölgesi, kentsel dönüşüm macerasında iki yılı çoktan geride bırakmıştı. Çalışmalara başladığım sırada altmış yapı adasından oluşan bölgede üç ada tamamıyla yıkılmış, bazı adalarda da başta kiracılar olmak üzere bir çok insan evlerini boşaltıp gitmeye, sokaklar yavaş da olsa ıssızlaşmaya başlamıştı. O zamanki notlarıma dönüp baktığımda mahallede yaşayan insanlardan sıklıkla duyduğum şey, içinde yaşadıkları belirsizlikle ilgili duydukları sıkıntılardı. Proje ilk ortaya çıktığında yaşanılan ...

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The Un-Islamic State

[A Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devise (VBIED) after exploding on a street outside of the Al Sabah newspaper office in the Waziryia district of Baghdad, Iraq. Image by Eli J. Medellin.]

Since the Islamic State (IS) movement seized control of Iraq’s second city of Mosul in early June 2014 it has achieved unprecedented levels of success in Iraq and Syria, seized territory in Lebanon, and expanded to the border regions of most surrounding states. As a result the international community, which had virtually forgotten about Iraq and was growing increasingly uninterested in Syria, put these conflicts back at the top of its agenda virtually overnight. The U.S. is once again engaged in hostilities in Iraq and considering direct, less covert means of involvement in Syria, as are a number of its partners. Regional governments, which had previously seen the IS as ...

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ما بعد الناصرية الجزء الثاني

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ميراث دولة للتجاوز لا للتجاهل ولا لإعادة الإنتاج انطلق ثم انحسر الحراك الجماهيري في مصر بين يناير ٢٠١١ ويوليو ٢٠١٤ فكما فتح متظاهرون المجال السياسي بكسر دولة مبارك الأمنية عادوا هم أو غيرهم ليغلقوا المجال نفسه وليأتوا بالجنرال كديكتاتورمفوض من الميدان ثم منتخب من قبل "الشعب" الذي يطمع في عودة الاستقرار بعد سنوات من الاضطراب وغياب الأمن. وإن كان الجمهور الحاضر في الميادين قد أتى وذهب بينما عادت الدولة المصرية العتيدة بسلطويتها كما هي وقد نجت من الحراك الاحتجاجي العارم فإن هذه الدولة لم تتغلب قط على أزمة الشرعية منذ ثورة يناير، ولا تزال سلطة الدولة تبحث عن مصدر لإعادة شرعيتها المفقودة يجعلها تأمن مكر "الشعب" في المستقبل، فلا تزال قطاعات مؤثرة من ...

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Home Surveillance and the Rights of Domestic Workers

[Migrant Rights logo. Image from @MigrantRIghts.]

[The following report was originally published by Migrant Rights on 25 July 2014 under the title "Home Surveillance Marketed Against Domestic Workers' Privacy Rights."] The alleged link between migrants and crime is a commonly regurgitated misconception in much of the migrant receiving world. In the Gulf States, local media particularly dramatize the ‘danger’ of migrant domestic workers to family privacy and child safety. Authorities further fuel these xenophobic narratives, regularly scapegoating migrants for any and all social problems, including the loss of cultural heritage and language. Saudi discourse particularly demonizes Ethiopian migrants, condemning ...

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The Violence of Climate Change in Egypt

[Arab Youth Climate Movement acts against climate change, Mansoura, Egypt. Photo courtesy of Omar Amir via Flickr.]

In the midst of the revolutionary battles of recent years, it is easy not to notice that climate change is fundamentally changing the Middle East and North Africa we live in. This gradual transformation, much of it already inevitable, threatens to displace millions, if not tens of millions, and change the region beyond recognition. Business as usual will allow elite classes to profit from the devastation of the majority–but a just future is possible, if we fight for it. The early arrival of summer this year brought with it a reminder of the violence of climate change. Rising temperatures kill, even if hot weather seems normal for the region. Heat waves like that ...

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What History Books for Children in Palestinian Camps?

[Dar al-Fata al-‘Arabi’s wall newspaper depicting Palestinian history. Courtesy of Dar al-Fata archive.]

Introduction A curious paradox reigns in research and publishing on Palestine and on the Palestinian people. While the post-Nakba importance of education for the Palestinian people is widely acknowledged, and has even given rise to an extensive literature in which many prominent scholars have participated, yet the part played by knowledge of Palestinian history in the field of education has barely been touched on in this literature. Even those writers who have focused on the special educational needs of a “community in exile”—to quote Ibrahim Abu Lughod—do not deeply explore the relationship between national liberation struggle, identity, and historical self-knowledge. ...

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Explaining the Bahraini Regime's Land Reclamation Strategy (Video)

The following Financial Times video report reveals the Bahraini regime’s massive land reclamation projects for luxury developments, which solely benefits the ruling elites and takes place at the expense of affordable housing, and as such, has exacerbated anti-regime opposition since 2011.

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قل انتهاكات الحقوق الاقتصادية ولا تقل جرائم الفساد

كنتُ قد حضرتُ ورشةَ عمل مؤخراً في كيب تاون في جنوب أفريقيا، وهي المدينة التي قضى فيها مانديلا سنوات سجنه السبع وعشرين، قبل أن يُطلق سراحه عام 1990 ليقود مفاوضات مع نظام الفصل العنصري (الأبارتايد) حتى يصبح أول رئيس أسود لجنوب أفريقيا عام 1994، لينتهي بعدها نظام الفصل العنصري في جنوب أفريقيا. لكن برغم انتهاء نظام الفصل العنصري رسمياً وقانونياً، ما زالت التركيبة الاجتماعية والاقتصادية للمجتمع الجنوب الأفريقي كما كانت قبل سقوط النظام، ويعتقد كثير من المهتمين بالشأن العام في جنوب أفريقيا أن الديمقراطية ...

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Beyond Uncritical Optimism: The Challenges for Transitional Tunisia

Tunisia will go to the polls on 26 October in order to decide the composition of the new parliament and the new political balance that will determine the next phases of political transition. Since the uprising, there have been many and important steps toward real political and institutional change. Indeed, Tunisia has undergone a process of policy change involving the liberalization of political landscape, the subsequent participation of new political forces in the electoral process, the marginalization ...

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Liberalizmin tasfiyesi ve Ortadogu'da alacakaranlik

Liberalizmin tasfiyesi ve Ortadoğu'da alacakaranlık Çok umutlar bağlandı Türkiye’ye. Doğu ile Batı arasındaki köprüydü o. 1950’lerde dahi Amerikalı sosyal bilimcilerin gözdesiydi. “Batı-dışı” toplumların (devrimci hayallere kalkışmadan) modernleşebileceğini gösteriyordu çünkü. 1990’lardan itibaren çerçeve bir parça değişti. Artık Türkiye’nin belirleyici özelliği, Müslüman kimliği ile liberalizmi uzlaştırabilmesiydi. Ak Parti iktidarı, bu beklentileri zirveye taşıdı. 2011 Arap ayaklanmalarından sonra da, ...

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From Home to Real Estate: Urban Redevelopment on the Axis of Speculation in Istanbul

A major urban redevelopment project in Fikirtepe had been going on for two years by the time I began my fieldwork in March 2013. During that time, three construction islands out of sixty had been entirely demolished, and many people, including many renters, had left the place. The streets were becoming more desolate every day. Looking back at my notes from those days, the one thing I kept hearing from my informants was the anxieties caused by uncertainty. The excitement that came with the introduction of ...

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Call For Papers: Knowledge-Based Development in the Gulf (Kuwait, March 2015)

Knowledge-Based Development in the Gulf Call for Papers Kuwait, 13-15 March 2015 Deadline: 15 October 2014  The Center for Gulf Studies at the American University of Kuwait will hold its second Gulf Studies Symposium (GSS) on 13-15 March 2015. The GSS is a meeting of worldwide Gulf scholars and researchers held biennially in Kuwait. Each symposium is based on a particular scholarly theme that is timely both to the region and to the field of Gulf studies. The theme of the 2015 GSS is ...

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Arab Bank Case Sets Limited Precedent

On Monday September 22, 2014, a jury in the US District Court of Brooklyn found that the Arab Bank is liable for financing terrorism. This is the first jury trial to find a bank liable for financing terrorism under the 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The Arab Bank contends that the case was riddled with errors that should be rectified upon appeal before the Second Circuit. The Central Bank of Jordan has come out in support of the Bank, whose earnings constitute a quarter of the country’s stock market ...

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Israel's "Operation Status Quo": A Preliminary Assessment

Israel’s massive onslaught on the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014 has been a military and political fiasco. A regional superpower, it failed to impose its will on an isolated enemy operating in a besieged territory without advanced weaponry. Its sub-standard military performance was matched by a failure to reverse Palestinian reconciliation or deepen Palestinian fragmentation, and its overall strategic position has grown weaker. Led by a government too extreme to seize the initiative with proposals that ...

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The Ongoing Ceasefire Negotiations: Al Jazeera English Interview with Jadaliyya Co-Editor Mouin Rabbani

Al Jazeera English hosted Jadaliyya Co-Editor Mouin Rabbani for an interview on the situation in the Gaza Strip on 8 August 2014. The interview focused on current ceasefire negotiations in Cairo between Israeli and Palestinian delegations.   

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On Our Intervention in Kalam al-Nas: Real Estate Development Will Not Realize the Dreams of the Lebanese

On Thursday 26 June 2014, a number of activists from the Civic Campaign for the Preservation of Dalieh infiltrated a live broadcasting of an episode of LBC’s Kalam al-Nas in Downtown Biel’s “Dream Real Estate Expo.” The particular episode tackled the topic of real estate development in Lebanon, and aired live from from Downtown Biel’s “Dream Real Estate Expo.”  This special episode brought together a number of real-estate developers who participated in the Expo, showcasing ...

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تحت الرادار العلاقات الاقتصادية الإسرائيلية ــ الفلسطينية

في أعقاب الحملة التي قامت بها إسرائيل في الضفة الغربية بحثاً عن ثلاثة من المستوطنين الإسرائيليين الشباب المفقودين، واستخدمت فيها قسوة لم تُشْهَد منذ الانتفاضة الثانية، مع تكلفة يومية (أي خسارة) لاقتصاد الخليل وحده بلغت 12 مليون دولار، راحت أصوات فلسطينية متنامية تطالب بوقف «التنسيق الأمني» الإسرائيلي ـ الفلسطيني. وكانت قوات أمن السلطة الفلسطينية تنحت جانباً، في حين انتشر الجيش الإسرائيلي في مدن الضفة الغربية وقراها دون اعتبار لمناطق الولاية الأمنية الاسمية المخصصة للسلطة الفلسطينية بموجب اتفاقات ...

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The Beginning of the End of Palestinian Security Coordination with Israel?

While Mahmoud Abbas’s infamous speech at the conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has sparked widespread condemnation and outrage among Palestinians, it has also provoked renewed questioning of the increasingly suspicious role of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) security sector. In his speech, Abbas defended security coordination with Israel under any and all circumstances, claiming that such coordination is a “Palestinian national interest.” Meanwhile, he had previously characterized it ...

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