ARAB STUDIES JOURNAL
VOL. XV, NO. 2
In this issue, we are proud to feature a series of groundbreaking interventions. Ifdal Elsaket explores anti-Blackness in Egypt through the genre of “jungle films.” She lays bare the racial and imperial fantasies that informed these films’ popularity. Elsaket exposes a process of racialization through which Egyptians positioned themselves as superior and modern, at a time when Egypt’s claims to Sudan took on a greater urgency and Blackness marked otherness. This deeply engrained vision of Africa as a place of inferiority would continue to inflect film and visual culture long after decolonization.
Suhad Daher-Nashif interrogates the national-civic service which has successfully targeted young Palestinian women who are citizens in Israel. Her ethnographic study carefully details the complex web of considerations, interests, and strategies that shape the national-civic service as a “trapped escape.” Women’s participation in the service reveals the mutually constitutive nature of Israeli colonial and Palestinian social structures. By showing how women use a colonial apparatus to escape patriarchal norms Daher-Nashif rethinks Palestinian experience in Israel as well as the imposition of and resistance to gender norms more broadly.
Nisa Ari explores the interaction between local and foreign artistic communities in early twentieth century Palestine. She focuses on the work of Palestinian artist Nicoal Saig (1863-1942) who copied photographs that the American Colony Photo Department (ACPD) produced. The relationship between Saig and the ACPD, Ari shows, reveals a multidirectional artistic exchange between local and foreign. She uncovers a world in which a diverse group of artistic agents employed different practices, produced and sold religious representations and object, and formed a vibrant economic market in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Palestine.
Tamer ElGindi tackles the World Bank’s assessment of the massive uprisings that rocked Egypt and Tunisia as “puzzles,” given both countries’ achievements in poverty rates, access to education, child and maternal mortality, and infrastructure services. Through a close reading of various inequality measures from the developmentalist era of Gamal Abdel Nasser to the subsequent neoliberal eras of Anwar al-Sadat and Husni Mubarak, ElGindi shows that macroeconomic improvements never “trickled down.” Energy and food subsidy systems in particular benefited the wealthiest instead of targeting the needy. He urges for a comprehensive understanding and measurement (of the monetary and the non-monetary) as a prerequisite to understanding and ameliorating inequality.
Manfred Sing revisits the wave of Arab social criticism that marked intellectual life after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Through a careful rereading of five intellectuals Sadiq Jalal al-‘Azm, Yasin al-Hafiz, Mustafa Hijazi, Nawal El Saadawi, and Hisham Sharabi, Sing traces the normative shift in Marxist thought away from a critique of capitalist society and towards theorizing the absence or failure of revolutionary mass movements. Following neither the admirers of Arab criticism nor their countercritics, Sing maps a social criticism that was timely, provocative, polemic, disenchanted, and marred by heuristic fallacies. This issue also features the usual robust array of book reviews.
ARAB STUDIES JOURNAL
VOL. XV, NO. 2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Jungle Films in Egypt: Race, Anti-Blackness, and Empire
Trapped Escape: Young Palestinian Women and the Israeli National-Civic Service
Spiritual Capital and the Copy: Painting, Photography, and the Production of the Image in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine
The Inequality Puzzle in Egypt: What Do We Really Know?
Tamer El Gindi
Arab Self-Criticism after 1967 Revisited: The Normative Turn in Marxist Thought and Its Heuristic Fallacies
Arabic Thought beyond the Liberal Age: Towards an Intellectual History of the Nahda
Edited by Jens Hanssen and Max Weiss
Reviewed by Nader Atassi
Frantz Fanon and the Future of Cultural Politics: Finding Something Different
Anthony C. Alessandrini
Reviewed by Sophia Azeb
The Arab City: Architecture and Representation
Edited by Amale Andraos and Nora Akawi
Reviewed by Deen Sharp
Violence and the City in the Modern Middle East
Edited by Nelida Fuccaro
Reviewed by Nicholas Simcik Arese
Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine: Population, Territory, and Power
Edited by Elia Zureik, David Lyon and Yasmeen Abu-Laban
Reviewed by Charles Anderson
Keepers of the Golden Shore: A History of the United Arab Emirates
Michael Quentin Morton
Reviewed by Kristi N. Barnwell
A History of the ‘Alawis: From Medieval Aleppo to the Turkish Republic
Reviewed by Charles Wilkins
The Kurds of Syria, by Sean Lee
Out of Nowhere: The Kurds of Syria in Peace and War, by Michael M. Gunter
The Kurds of Syria: Political Parties and Identity in the Middle East, by Harriet Allsopp
La question kurde: Passé et présent, by Jordi Tejel Gorgas
Excavating Origins, Assessing Development: The Evolution of Middle East Studies and Its Scholars, by Laurie A. Brand
Anthropology’s Politics: Disciplining the Middle East, by Lara Deeb and Jessica Winegar
Field Notes: The Making of Middle East Studies in the United States, by Zachary Lockman