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A French Atlas of the Gulf States

[Cover of Philippe Cadène and Brigitte Dumortier,

Philippe Cadène and Brigitte Dumortier, Atlas of the Gulf States. Leiden: Brill, 2013. Mapping as a French Academic Tradition and its Critics It seems that English-speaking geographers and urbanists publish many fewer atlases, and draw fewer maps, than their French and—at least until recently—German counterparts. In France, there has been a frenzy of publishing atlases of everything and everywhere since the 1990s. What was first, at the advent of digital cartography, limited to academia, soon became a larger movement covering many topics and countries or regions of the world. The academic tradition of regional geography contributed to the launching of scientific books ...

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Sympathy for the Devil: Palestine’s Tragic Collaborators

[Film still from Hany Abu-Assad's Omar (2013). Image copyright the filmmaker. Courtesy of Film Press Plus.]

Omar, directed by Hany Abu-Assad. Palestine, 2013. Omar, the most recent film by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad (of Paradise Now fame), opens with a traversing of obstacles—a prefatory homage to the resilient Palestinian spirit. Exuding youthful vigor, the titular character scales the portion of the separation wall isolating his West Bank neighborhood from that of his childhood friends, his resistance brigade, and his love interest. Omar fearlessly scurries along the edges of buildings and leaps across rooftops, exercising what has, by now, become his routine refusal to accept the limits on life, work, and love imposed by the Israeli occupation. We watch him ...

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Do Not Compel Me to Sing

[Still image from

I Left My Shoes in Istanbul, directed by Nigol Bezjian. Lebanon/Turkey, 2013. Nigol Bezjian’s I Left My Shoes in Istanbul begins with its protagonist protesting that he has no desire to go on the journey that lies at the heart of the film. It ends with the haunting voice of a singer, begging the listener, “Do not implore me, I will not sing.” Between these two attempts to escape from a story that nevertheless must be told, Bezjian presents us with a vision that is deeply personal, not always coherent, but remarkably unsparing in documenting the presence of an enforced Armenian absence in Istanbul. Bezjian, who has written, directed, and produced for film and television ...

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The House of Melancholy and Strength

[Nooshin Rostami's

House of Strength  Performance by Nooshin Rostami Choreography by Merisha Mesihovic Industry City Open Studios, Brooklyn 26 April 2014    [House of Strength is a performance by the Iranian Brooklyn-based artist Nooshin Rostami inspired by the traditional Persian gymnasiums called Zoorkhane (House of Strength). The Zoorkhaneh is a place where male participants practice a lengthy series of exercises designed to build their bodies and skills. Women have been traditionally forbidden from participating in these activities at the gyms where male performances are led by a singer who chants sacred poetry and plays drums and bells. In this ...

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NEWTON Summer Reading

As we head into the summer, Jadaliyya would like to remind you of some of the most creative and groundbreaking works in Middle East studies that we have featured in our New Texts Out Now (NEWTON) page during the 2013-2014 academic year. Whether you are an instructor thinking about texts for the fall, a student doing research, or a reader making a summer reading list, you will find a wealth of interviews about and excerpts from works across a range of topics and disciplines. We have provided a list of all the NEWTONs we have published since last summer, divided into categories according to topic and region. To stay up to date with ongoing discussions by scholars and ...

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Representing Hamas (Part 2)

[Cover of Shlomi Eldar, Lehakir et Hamas (“To Know Hamas

Shlomi Eldar, Lehakir et Hamas [“To Know Hamas”]. Jerusalem: Keter, 2012.  [Part one of this review can be found here.] The Military Complex  Eldar structures his narrative around character profiles of Palestinian activists, mainly Hamas leaders, their assassination by Israel, and the broader Israeli military operations. In order to recount the killing of Ahmed Yassin, the founder and leader of the movement, for example, Eldar has researched the decision-making process leading up to it and the real-time execution of the attack. Through this narrative, we learn that as the Israeli leadership was deciding to assassinate Yassin, it worried that it would set off ...

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Representing Hamas (Part 1)

[Cover of Shlomi Eldar, Lehakir et Hamas (“To Know Hamas

Shlomi Eldar, Lehakir et Hamas [“To Know Hamas"]. Jerusalem: Keter, 2012. The latest book by veteran Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar, Lehakir et Hamas [“To Know Hamas], is a must-read for anyone interested in Hamas and the trajectory of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000. Eldar has researched his subject thoroughly, and provides an original and revealing account of the movement. He has had extraordinary access to the movement while also providing a uniquely Israeli perspective. Eldar’s purpose, however, is not simply to present the movement in a new light. One can see this in the double entendre in the name of the ...

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A Creative Upsurge; Syrian Art Today (Part One)

[Nazir Nabaa's

[Syria’s Apex Generation highlights post-uprising art as an introduction to the rich history of painting in Syria. Featuring the works of Abdul Karim Majdal Al-Beik, Nihad Al Turk, Othman Moussa, Mohannad Orabi, and Kais Salman, the exhibition and its accompanying publication explore a new school of painting in the midst of expansion despite the disintegration of the Damascus art scene, its original center. Informed by extensive traditions of expressionism, symbolism, and abstraction, this burgeoning group has forged ahead with the creative objectives of their predecessors, who advocated the social relevance of art. The essay below is reproduced from the exhibition’s ...

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The Black Box of French History

[Book cover image courtesy of Macmillan.]

Andrew Hussey, The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and Its Arabs. London: Granta, 2014. In 2005, a series of disturbing events occurred in France. In February, the parliament attempted to pass a law to force schools to teach “the positive role of French presence overseas, especially in North Africa.” That same autumn, riots erupted in a number of suburbs northeast of Paris, gradually spreading to other French cities and provoking the government to declare a state of emergency that had not been issued since the Algerian War. Many commentators drew a straight line from one to the other: France’s unresolved colonial past was coming to haunt it through an ...

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In Performance: Undeniable Voices, Palestinian Agency and Marginalized Narratives

[Jimmy Whalen and Elizabeth Jernigan in a private reading of Peace, by Hanna Eady and Ed Mast. Photo by Ari Roth]

From 3-5 April 2014, I attended three notable theatrical productions that dealt directly and indirectly with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the Diary of Anne Frank at Raleigh’s Burning Coal Theatre, directed by the Artistic Director of Bethlehem’s Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Society Abdelfattah Abusrour; a workshop production of The Admission by the Israeli playwright Motti Lerner at Washington D.C.’s Jewish Cultural Center; and a private reading of Peace, a new one-act play by the Palestinian playwright Hanna Eady and the Seattle-based playwright Ed Mast.  In all three instances, Palestinian culture makers played a significant role in narrating and performing ...

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Adunis, Mistranslated (Part One)

[Adunis. Image by Mariusz Kubik, from Wikipedia]

Adonis, Selected Poems. Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010. Adunis (1930-) is one of the most influential and dominant Arab poets of the modern era and a perennial Nobel contender since the late 1980s. A number of his individual works have been ably translated into English in previous decades by Mirene Ghossein and Kamal Boullata, Samuel Hazo, and Shawkat Toorawa. More recently, Adnan Haydar and Michael Beard translated his most powerful and enduring work, Aghani Mihyar al-Dimashqi (Songs of Mihyar the Damascene) (1961). However, a panoramic work of selections spanning Adunis’s entire oeuvre and development ...

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New Texts Out Now: Leila Piran, Institutional Change in Turkey: The Impact of European Union Reforms on Human Rights and Policy

[Cover of Leila Piran,

Leila Piran, Institutional Change in Turkey: The Impact of European Union Reforms on Human Rights and Policy (New York: Palgrave, 2013). Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Leila Piran (LP): I wanted to write about democratization and political reform in a Muslim-majority country. Turkey represents a noteworthy example because of the rich history of reforms, ranging from Ottoman reforms aimed at modernization of the Empire to the ongoing Republican reforms starting in 1923. In general, police reform is one of the most challenging projects for any country to undertake, particularly since police departments are authoritarian and hierarchical institutions, ...

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Displaced Intentions

Write Down, I Am an Arab, directed by Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin. Israel/Palestine, 2014. Borrowing the opening line of one of Mahmoud Darwish’s most famous poems, “Identity Card,” filmmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin titled her latest documentary Write Down, I Am an Arab. The film, which had its world premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival in April of this year, is described as a biographical portrait of the poet who became the voice of Palestinian people. However, in her director’s statement, the ...

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Understanding Modernity: A Review of the Kuwait Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

On 6 June 2014, the Kuwait pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia’s 14th International Architecture Exhibition opened with a restaging of an event that took place three decades earlier: the ceremonial opening of the Kuwait National Museum. Under the heading “Acquiring Modernity” (responding to the overall Biennale theme “Absorbing Modernity”), the Kuwait pavilion seeks to “articulate the nation’s history of modernization” by focusing its participation on the history of the national museum, first ...

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Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar in Translation

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, The Time Regulation Institute, translated by Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe, introduction by Pankaj Mishra. New York: Penguin, 2014.   The verbal text is jealous of its linguistic signature but impatient of national identity. Translation flourishes by virtue of that paradox.  — Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Translation as Culture” 1. Traveling Tanpınar 2014 marks the appearance of a second English translation of one of the funniest satirical novels of the ...

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Israel and the Palestinian Territories Lonely Planet: Systematic Erasure and Casual Racism

Haifa is a picturesque city of hills, gardens, and trendy cafes perched along the slopes of Mount Carmel in northern Israel. If the Lonely Planet guidebook is to be believed, Haifa is notable because Arabs and Jews live in “visible harmony,” and residents consider themselves a “model of tolerance” for the region (158). In Israel/Palestine, it seems, all it takes for harmony to prevail is for Arabs and Jews to sip lattes together—or at least close to each other, while speaking in Hebrew of course. After ...

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Popular Neighborhoods and the Arab Spring: Elements for a Renewed Approach

Pierre-Arnaud Barthel and Sylvy Jaglin, editors, Quartiers informels d’un monde arabe en transition. Réflexions et perspectives pour l’action urbaine [Informal Settlements in an Arab World in Transition. Reflections and Perspectives for Urban Action]. Paris: Agence Française pour le Développement, Conférences et Séminaires 7, 2013. Available online. Housing in most of the Arab world cities is an informal affair. After having founded a family, or to remain near employment opportunities, most people ...

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Embedded Poetry: Iraq; Through a Soldier's Binoculars

Critics and reviewers greeted Brian Turner’s Here, Bullet (Alice James Books, 2005) with effusive and unanimous praise. His poems were read as “dispatches from a place more incomprehensible than the moon. . . observations we would never find in a Pentagon press release.” I read the poems back then and was not impressed or moved. I was not surprised that these poems would elicit such praise. Although they were read and were circulating in a climate of timid, but rising opposition to the war (not for the ...

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A Creative Upsurge; Syrian Art Today (Part Two)

[Syria’s Apex Generation highlights post-uprising art as an introduction to the rich history of painting in Syria. Featuring the works of Abdul Karim Majdal Al-Beik, Nihad Al Turk, Othman Moussa, Mohannad Orabi, and Kais Salman, the exhibition and its accompanying publication explore a new school of painting in the midst of expansion despite the disintegration of the Damascus art scene, its original center. Informed by extensive traditions of expressionism, symbolism, and abstraction, this burgeoning ...

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Keep Your Eye on the Wall

There were an impressive number of Palestinians at the 19 May opening in Ramallah of Keep Your Eye on the Wall, a photographic exhibit. “The Wall” (aka Apartheid Wall, Separation Wall, Security Fence, Barrier) is such an omnipresent feature of Palestinians’ lives, it is surprising they would voluntarily choose to look at photographs of it. But they did, and many seemed entranced by the large artistic images. “The striking visual impact is critical,” explained Olivia Snaije who conceptualized the project ...

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Revolution and Return: Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon and the End of Politics

Diana Allan, Refugees of the Revolution: Experiences of Palestinian Exile. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2013.   For some reason while reading Diana Allan’s wonderful new book, Refugees of the Revolution, I had the idea that its title was Ghosts of the Revolution. I am not sure why. It may be because that revolution, in its silences and absences, so insistently haunts the pages of this study, its traces scattered and lingering in the lives of those who lived it and created it and were left ...

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New Texts Out Now: Valeska Huber, Channelling Mobilities: Migration and Globalisation in the Suez Canal Region and Beyond

Valeska Huber, Channelling Mobilities: Migration and Globalisation in the Suez Canal Region and Beyond. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Valeska Huber (VH): The origins of this book lie in my general interest in the history of mobility, particularly as it connects to justice and equality. Does globalization—in the present day or historically—mean that everyone can move at an ever-quicker pace? I wanted to unpack this story for the ...

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Les visages urbains d'un autre Téhéran. Perspectives comparatives sur la mégapole iranienne.

Livre recensé: Mina Saïdi-Sharouz (dir.), Le Téhéran des quartiers populaires. Transformation urbaine et société civile en République Islamique, (Paris: Karthala/IFRI, 2013). Réjouissons-nous de la parution de cet ouvrage. En effet, elle marque le renouveau des études francophones sur la capitale iranienne et des publications de l'Institut français de recherche en Iran (IFRI), via son Observatoire Urbain de Téhéran et des villes d'Iran (OUTI), dont Mina Saïdi-Sharouz est la responsable. Docteure en ...

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New Texts Out Now: Zayde Antrim, Routes and Realms: The Power of Place in the Early Islamic World

Zayde Antrim, Routes and Realms: The Power of Place in the Early Islamic World. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Zayde Antrim (ZA): I was originally motivated by what I saw as easy dismissals of the relationship between Palestinians and the territory that now makes up Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. When the question of their attachment to land came up, it was often in order to deem it both recent and ideologically motivated, ...

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Jadaliyya Reviews offers a place for commentary, debates, and exchanges on books, fims, videos, art, theater, music, new media, conferences, protests, and events. Visit our Call for Reviews page for more information about submitting posts/reviews online! Send your reviews to: reviews@jadaliyya.com

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