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Arab Studies Journal Announces Spring 2017 Issue: Editor's Note and Table of Contents

Arab Studies Journal Volume XXV, no. 1 (Spring 2017) EDITOR'S NOTE Since the November 2016 elections, the dying gasps of US exceptionalism has meant the intensification of attacks on the lives and movement of people from the Arab ...

[Cover of Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment]

Foucault, the Iranian Revolution, and the Politics of Collective Action

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016. [This is part five of a book symposium on Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi's Foucault in Iran: Islamic ...

[Helen Zughaib's Syrian Migration series #2 (2017). Image copyright the artist]

April Culture

The great American Pop artist James Rosenquist (who died on 31 March) once said "History is remembered by its art, not its war machines." With this in mind, Jadaliyya's Culture Bouquet returns with new art reviews, ...

[Left to right: Brian Edwards and Bassam Haddad.]

Bassam Haddad and Brian Edwards Discuss Middle East Studies and Public Scholarship

This conversation between Bassam Haddad of George Mason University and Brian Edwards of Northwestern University addresses the role of public scholarship and its relation to print publication within the climate of Middle East Studies. The ...

The Problem is the Israeli Occupation: al-Nabi Saleh

[Halamish on the hillside across Road 465 in the background. Photo: Anne Paq/

Early in the morning a car packed with Israelis and internationals leaves Tel-Aviv for al-Nabi Saleh, a small village about 30 kilometers northeast of Ramallah in the central West Bank. Our objective is to observe and participate in the weekly Friday demonstration in the village. We leave very early because Israeli military forces have been sealing off all the entrances to al-Nabi Saleh by 9:30 am, hours before the demonstration begins. The occupation forces hope to deter people from outside the village – Palestinians, Israeli Jews, and internationals – from joining the demonstrations. We are not deterred. We park the car on the outskirts of the ...

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Zapping and Groping are Bad Enough Already; Emulating Israel Will Only Make Them Worse

[Image from]

About a month ago, one of my colleagues was describing to me a forthcoming trip, when he paused and reflected, “I’m still not sure whether I want to be groped or zapped.” It is a question many Americans have contemplated in recent weeks, “groping,” of course, being the instantly-infamous “enhanced pat downs” airport travelers can opt for if they refuse a “zapping,” the new X-ray backscatter or millimeter-wave machines that provide TSA shockingly clear body images. Both types of machine are known as Advanced Imaging Technology [AIT].  A few days ago I traveled internationally and had some opportunities to experience these notorious new security ...

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Locations [Gone to Palestine: 5]

[Image from author's archive]

We chose the hamlet of Beit Jeez in from the hundreds of Palestinian villages that were cleansed in 1948. Maryam was scouting locations for her film, and she was looking for a ’48 village where one scene in particular needed to be shot. It was the scene where the protagonist and his girlfriend go after robbing the bank, the place they hole up while they decide whether to continue going on with their crime spree, or to leave for good. It was important that it take place in the ruins of a ’48 village. Her travels had taken her all around, from the areas around Umm al-Fahim in the triangle, to old villages in the plain between Acre and Haifa, to even the upper Galilee, to ...

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Urban Scars, An Unfinished Essay: Jaffa/Tel Aviv

[Image from author's archive]

Urban scars, cutting deep into the flesh of the city. Lines of division that linger through the civic body, long after their political and social meaning was lost. Areas of inexplicable void within a thriving city. Areas that are constantly on the drawing tables of architects and city planners, who seek to redeem the past, to bring closure to whatever conflict there were, to move on, god dammit. The property value is huge. The return on investment promising. So why do they still stand empty and dead, like in Amsterdam’s former Jewish neighbourhood, lifeless even 65 years after the deportation? And why, even when they are filled with parks and monuments and museums – like ...

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Howl [Gone to Palestine: 4]

Howl Considering the fact that our literature workshop at Birzeit almost didn’t take place at all, it was a real success. We’d applied for a grant to teach a workshop to Palestinian university students through a fund administered by the US Department of Education and the State Department’s Public Diplomacy program. Despite the contacts that the consul in East Jerusalem had set up with our colleagues at Birzeit, we had a difficult time making arrangements. The department chair was away for the summer and didn’t respond to our emails as we tried to confirm our plan. Fortunately, David knew some people in other departments who connected us to Ahlam, a junior member of the ...

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A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman (Part 1)

[Chart of Sex Based Differentiation in Lebanese law; Chart by Maya Mikdashi]

For the past four years I have been researching the histories and the applications of the Lebanese legal system. An understanding of this legal system, which is the architecture of the Lebanese state, has been vital to my dissertation. I have spent thousands of hours poring over legal texts and legal histories, putting together the puzzle of how, when, and why laws are promulgated, amended, and put into practice in Lebanon. I have met with countless lawyers, judges, plaintiffs, clerks, and defendants and have spent days on end in courtrooms, judges’ chambers, law offices, and in the living rooms of ordinary citizens in order to better understand how the legal system ...

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Mardomi-Nejad VS. The Greens: Iran's Political Struggle Captured in Election Posters

[A bumper sticker for Mehdi Karrubi's candidacy reads

Iran’s hotly contested 2009 presidential elections and its tumultuous aftermath have been a source for numerous op-eds, policy speeches, and activist events from Tehran to New York and everywhere in between--to this day. The mass protests and violence that followed the announcement of Ahmadinejad’ s victory overtook the several weeks of campaigning that preceded the June 12 elections that brought 85% of the electorate to the ballot boxes.  One of the vehicles for expressing the platforms of the candidates as well as inspiring voters were the colorful and ever-present election posters.  While previous elections also included banners and posters as ...

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Neoliberal Pregnancy and Zero-Sum Elitism in the Arab World (Part 2)

[Image from, well,]

In the first post (here) I introduced the topic of the new Arab elitism, or, more accurately, the emerging nexus of power between the political and economic elite. In the next post (sorry about posting another series) I'll discuss ways to pursue research on the topic. But below I will start by debunking some anticipated counterclaims regarding this phenomenon, particularly the claim that some on the left assert--ironically. The new elitism that is sweeping the Arab world deserves close attention from scholars, activists, artists, and ordinary citizens. While many observers point to this or that manifestation of the said phenomenon, the full effect can be ...

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Why The Wafd Has To Participate In The Upcoming Elections (Part 3)

[Image from unknown archive]

[See Part 1 here and Part 2 here] The way to critique the Wafd As per the rules of our méconnaissance, most, critical analysts tend to critique the Wafd for whitewashing a brutally rigged election only. That is to say, they limit the problem of the Wafd’s participation to normalizing false elections. So, while the Wafd is committing a mistake, it remains a victim of rigging, nonetheless—as if it were like the Brotherhood or Karama. For some reason no one wants to say that the Wafd, and its siblings, are not like the rest; they are in this because they suppose that rigging the elections will give them more seats this time (as mentioned before, the only one who said it ...

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ماذا تفعل الأنظمة المزورة في يوم الانتخابات؟ [What Will Forging Regimes Do on Election Day?]

[بطلجية في الصفوف الأولى أمام قوات الأمن لمنع ناخبي المعارضة من الوصول لصناديق الاقتراع -المصدر غير معروف]

علمتنا التجارب التي مررنا بها، وكذلك تجارب الدول الأخرى، أن الأنظمة المستبدة عامة ما تتعامل مع يوم الانتخابات بشكل شبه نمطي. وأظنكم تعرفون جميعا جوهر هذا التعامل من واقع خبراتكم الطويلة به، والذي يعتمد على آليات تزوير محددة باتت مكررة مثل "اللبانة الممضوغجة،" مثل تسويد بطاقات الاقتراع، وتزوير بطاقات الانتخاب، وتقفيل الصناديق، والتلاعب بالنتائج، وغير ذلك مما تعرفونه جيدا. لكن الأنظمة المزورة تواجه خطرين آخرين عليها أن تتعامل معاهما ببعض الحنكة ليس فقط في ذلك اليوم وإنما في الفترة السابقة عليه أيضا، وهما تجريس الإعلام للنظام والفعاليات الجماهيرية المناهضة له في الشارع. وتتعامل مع الخطر الأول بتشديد الرقابة على الإعلام حتى وإن تطلب ذلك إغلاق ٢٥ قناة تليفزيونية ...

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Lessons in Morphology [Gone to Palestine: 3]

[Image from Elliot Colla's archive]

It was a strange but mutually beneficial arrangement. I needed to travel north through a number of checkpoints to visit a town that had borne the brunt of the occupation and I needed to get back to Ramallah at a decent hour so as to see friends before I left the next day. They had a service taxi for hire, but little business and few customers. I hired the taxi for a day, and the driver asked if his best friend and his best friend’s son could come along. I said, “The more the merrier.” As we left Ramallah, we passed by the PA’s headquarters, the place where Arafat had been confined for the last three years of his life. They showed me where the prison had been, where the ...

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Rigging The Egyptian Elections: The Organizing Narrative (Why The Wafd Has To Participate In The Upcoming Elections-Part 1)

[The Mubaraks, father and son, voting in the last upper-house elections. Image from]

On 17 September, a number of opposition movements organized a “youth” protest in front of the headquarters of the Wafd Party (the old liberals) to persuade it to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections. The protest was set to coincide with the Wafd’s general assembly meeting that gathered to determine the party’s position on the elections. The protestors chanted slogans against taking part in the upcoming “charade of elections,” threatening the party that participating in these elections would be “a shame that will scar its history forever.”  Meanwhile, a group of party members that calls itself Wafdists Against Inheritance(i.e. Gamal Mubarak inheriting ...

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A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman, Part 2

In Part 1 of A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman, I represented graphically a number of the laws that constitute Lebanese male and female citizens differently. I meant to show how the Lebanese legal system as a whole is built to produce categories of citizenship that are differentiated according to sex. In this post I build on this argument and question why religious personal status is often posited as the “problem” for women in countries where the secular state is just as, if not more, ...

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Neoliberal Pregnancy and Zero-Sum Elitism in the Arab World (Part 3)

This is the third and next to last entry in a series of posts on the emergence and consolidation of a new nexus of power between the political and economic elite across much of the Arab world (See Part 1, Part 2). This development extends far beyond the Middle East, influenced for the most part by the overlap of interests between global neoliberal economic policies/institutions and various manifestations of local power structures (primarily political and economic).[1] For instance, both ...

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عودة الروح لحديث المقاطعة الوهمي [The Return Of The Illusory Boycott Rhetoric In Egypt]

تمر الساحة السياسية المصرية الآن بصدمة ما بعد الانتخابات، التي تتجلى في أشكال عدة وتفرض نفسها على كافة المستويات. فلأسباب لازلنا نجهلها شعر غالبية الناس بصدمة شديدة بسبب ما حدث من تزوير، وذلك على الرغم من ترقبهم مقدما لانتخابات مزورة بشكل غير مسبوق. فلم تزد نسبة الذين تطلعوا إلى انتخابات نزيهة عن ٥٪ في كافة استطلاعات الرأي التي أجريت قبل الانتخابات، لكننا رأينا كيف شاعت مقولات من نوع <<شفت اللي حصل>> في كل مكان لتعكس رد فعل مصدوم من تكرار نفس التزوير الذي ظل ينظم حياتنا السياسية على مدار ...

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The Story of Accountability So Far, At Home and Abroad: Time to Turn a New Page?

The ACLU’s Supreme Court challenge to the lower court decision dismissing a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Data Plan Inc. (about Jeppesen’s complicity in extraordinary rendition) provides a welcome opportunity for several branches of the U.S. government to build a culture of responsibility, alongside private company Jeppesen, for actions undertaken in the “War on Terror”. The federal government could start to move towards accountability by refusing to intervene in the Supreme Court, as ...

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Liberal Elite Discourse and the "Realities" of Jordan

For over a decade now, a diverse array of English-language publications have emerged in Jordan, which in turn have reflected and facilitated discussions amongst the country’s liberal elite circles. Despite a diversity of specializations as well as differences in readership, these publications, which include magazines and blogs, have coalesced around a dominant narrative about contemporary dynamics in Jordan. This narrative, which I refer to as the liberal elite discourse, positions Jordan (its government ...

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On Representational Paralysis, Or, Why I Don't Want to Write About Temporary Marriage

For the past few years, I have been working with a colleague on a collaborative project about leisure in the southern suburb of Beirut. Along the way, there was a moment when we thought that new ideas about temporary marriage among Shi‘i Muslim youth would be a significant part of it. We eventually abandoned that possibility, for reasons that included changes in our primary interests and the difficulties of interviewing young people about what remains for the most part a socially stigmatized ...

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The American Granddaughter (A Review)

Many Iraqis returned to their country after the American invasion in 2003 as members of the entourage that accompanied the invading army and helped it administer its occupation. Some of them were translators recruited by companies back in the US where they were living either as refugees, residents, or Iraqi-American citizens. Some bought into the “liberation” narrative and believed they were helping the old country get back on its feet. Others were simply in it for the six-figure salary. Zina, the ...

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It Is Raining Documents, Hallelujah!

Today’s document dump of over 250,000 US diplomatic cables, courtesy of WikiLeaks, is like Santa Claus came early. These confidential cables were exchanged between 250 US embassies and the State Department, a handful dating back to the 1960s and 1970s but most from the last few years. They contain harsh and diplomatically embarrassing assessments of foreign leaders, information about diplomatic arm twisting and bargaining, and under-the-wire politics such as the request by the Saudi regime for the US to ...

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Celebrating Illiberal Liberalism: The Egyptian Elections (Why The Wafd Has To Participate In The Upcoming Elections-Part 2)

In Part 1 we saw some of the salient features of the story that punctuate Election representation and politics in Egypt. This narrative presumes that the ruling regime is conspiring to reduce the Brotherhood’s share in the parliament form 88 seats to maybe 15, and divide the rest between itself and the “official opposition parties,” especially the Wafd (for a plethora of reasons that were detailed in Part 1). Only two days ago, Al-Youm Al-Saibi’ estimated that regime will take away 61 seats from the ...

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Neoliberal Pregnancy and Zero-Sum Elitism in the Arab World (Part 1)

[This post will probably burst the sweet (though serious) bubble generated by Lisa’s semi-comical/semi-sad post below. So toggle back and forth to withstand the dryness here.]  Beneath the surface and behind the scenes, though smack in the middle of consequential developments, we are witnessing the slow but steady emergence of a new and increasingly fortified nexus of power between the political and economic elite in much of the Arab world. Far deeper than the everyday talk about the “marriage of ...

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Lordy, Lordy, I Declare! Big Brother Is in My Underwear

If you are traveling by air in the United States, your “junk” will be inspected visually or manually by agents working for the Transportation Security Agency. Junk is hipster code for your butt, although it doesn’t discriminate against your balls and/or breasts. Non-hipsters learned the term when a traveler named John Tyner used his cell phone to record his own physical pat-down, during which he balked at the professional groping and said, “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested.” Tyner’s ...

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Choking Mecca in the Name of Beauty — and Development (Part 2)

Mecca During the Hajj  As the annual hajj draws to a close, millions of Muslim pilgrims in Mecca celebrate the four-day Eid al Adha together ritually, festively, and with a jubilant spirit of giving. They will pray, eat, and spend time with loved ones. Those who can afford it will give alms to the less fortunate. Most will resist the temptations of sleep in order to enjoy every remaining hour they have in the holiest of all Muslim places. Thousands of medical doctors and nurses flown in from the ...

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