[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the tenth in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise one-to-three parts, depending on the number of articles included.]
American Journal of Political Science (Volume 63, Issue 4)
Poverty and Divine Rewards: The Electoral Advantage of Islamist Political Parties
By: Sharan Grewal, Amaney A. Jamal, Tarek Masoud, Elizabeth R. Nugent
Abstract: Political life in many Muslim‐majority countries has been marked by the electoral dominance of Islamist parties. Recent attempts to explain why have highlighted their material and organizational factors, such as the provision of social services. In this article, we revive an older literature that emphasizes the appeal of these parties’ religious nature to voters experiencing economic hardship. Individuals suffering economic strain may vote for Islamists because they believe this to be an intrinsically virtuous act that will be met with divine rewards in the afterlife. We explore this hypothesis through a series of laboratory experiments in Tunisia. Individuals assigned to treatment conditions instilling feelings of economic strain exhibit greater support for Islamist parties, and this support is causally mediated by an expectation of divine compensation in the hereafter. The evidence suggests that the religious nature of Islamist parties may thus be an important factor in their electoral success.
Arab Studies Quarterly (Volume 41, Issue 4)
Mohsin Hamid Engages the World in The Reluctant Fundamentalist: “An Island on an Island,” Worlds in Miniature and “Fiction” in the Making
By: Mohamed Salah Eddine Madiou
Abstract: The Reluctant Fundamentalist proves vitally engaged in the concerns of the mind and its passages reveal a struggle with difficulties of a sort that make anxiety seem an innocuous euphemism or outdated scholarly endeavor, which inevitably veers the reader's attention away from their importance in understanding the text and its world. This essay is concerned with the psychological, artistic, historical, and geographical contingencies Mohsin Hamid faces in putting together his novel/la through the travail of production and publication. The Reluctant Fundamentalist has cemented Hamid's reputation and taken on the guise of a relatively autonomous sphere in its own fashion. Hamid resorts to powerful actions of a “begetting” kind, and specifying points of departure for his novel/la grows increasingly problematic. The novel/la is in fact intricate, and its resemblance with many productions is striking nevertheless. Going against the grain of fundamental and dominant traditions through a reluctant ethos, Hamid engages in beginnings and beginnings again to find alternatives, a Saidian reasoning read in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Taking its cue from Hamid's reflection on the manufacturing of his own “fiction” and Said's Beginnings, this essay examines how Hamid builds on Albert Camus's La chute as a point of reference to inaugurate The Reluctant Fundamentalist which owes its genesis to miscellaneous acts of beginning based, among many others, on McEwan's Atonement and Ali's Brick Lane. Hamid also engages world events such as America's beginning as a nation and September 11, which both have inspired the novel/la's impulse to begin and begin again in the process of production. These influences with the alternatives given make up the texture of his novel/la, which is not only creative in nature, but also theoretical and philosophical in trajectories.
Towards an Egyptian Bildungsroman: The National Intellectual after the 1919 Revolution in Naguib Mahfouz's Sugar Street
By: Rania Mahmoud
Abstract: Reading Naguib Mahfouz's Sugar Street (1957) as a Bildungsroman, I argue that Mahfouz creates an Egyptian Bildungsroman that relies on constant revision of European forms and a merging of local and global paradigms to fit the Egyptian socio-historical context. Mahfouz rejects both the traditional Bildungsroman as well as classical indigenous forms as signifiers of mimicry and petrification respectively. While the resolution of the Bildungsroman entails the negation of the Other, whose maturation is requisite upon accepting models that marginalize him/her, classical models render the Other a geographic and temporal anachronism. In place of the traditional Bildungsroman and classical Arabic literary models, Mahfouz advocates for an eclectic paradigm that changes with the historical moment.
Time and Waiting: The Fulcrum of Palestinian Identity
By: Ashutosh Singh
Abstract: The theoretical concepts of time and waiting have evolved mostly around the units of clocks and calendars. The Palestinians have been forced to let waiting be part of their national and cultural life. The forced displacement has scattered many Palestinians in exile around the globe. These Palestinians in diasporas have been waiting to return home one day and this perpetual state of waiting is one of the greatest tragedies of our time. The Palestinians' experience of time and waiting are quite different from most parts of the world. The linearity of time seems to break its rhythm when it enters Palestinian lives. The temporality appears to have multiple dimensions when it comes to Palestine. There are times when the clock is not the reference point of Palestinians' time, and hours and minutes can no longer gauge their waiting. They have given a new meaning to time, waiting and exile through not only the physical existence of their being, but also through their literature and art. Although we live in a culture that denigrates waiting, we have a whole Palestine hanging on for what can put an end to its wait. The concept of time, waiting and exile suddenly jumps out of the theoretical notions and embodies itself in Palestine. Palestinians' literature, movies and other art forms have encompassed these ideas to strengthen their collective memory and identity. The life of a dispossessed Palestinian has many internal contradictions that are at times not obvious but beyond the contradiction typically experienced by individuals in life. The Palestinian struggle for land is also a struggle against the established unitary idea of time and waiting of colonizers. This article will try to delve into such meanings of time and waiting for Palestinians in their cultural lives and their everyday existence.
Comparative Politics (Volume 52, Issue 1)
Sideways Concessions and Individual Decisions to Protest
By: Sarah J. Hummel
Abstract: Sideways concessions to protest are policy reforms that decrease grievance among potential protesters, without being directly linked to the stated demands of the protest. By avoiding both the backlash effect of repression and the inspirational effect of direct concessions, they are theoretically powerful tools for quelling unrest. This article evaluates the effectiveness of sideways concessions at reducing individual mobilization potential using a survey experiment conducted in Kyrgyzstan in October 2015. The evidence shows sideways concessions are effective among respondents who were dissatisfied with the government and not optimistic about the future of the country. The article also demonstrates the plausibility of these results in other settings, drawing on observational data from the 2014 Gezi Park protests in Turkey and the 2013 Euromaidan protests in Ukraine.
Comparative Studies in Society and History (Volume 61, Issue 4)
The American Sufis: Self-Help, Sufism, and Metaphysical Religion in Postcolonial Egypt
By: Arthur Shiwa Zárate
Abstract: This article examines an Arabic commentary on the American self-help pioneer Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, written by a one-time leading intellectual of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Muḥammad al-Ghazālī. Ghazālī’s 1956 commentary was perhaps the earliest manifestation of an influential genre of literature within the Islamic world today: “Islamic self-help.” Although scholars treat Islamic self-help as an effect of neoliberalism, this article reorients the study of Islamic self-help beyond neoliberalism by showing first, that Ghazālī’s early version of it emerged through a critical engagement with several ideological forms that relate in complex ways to neoliberalism's antecedent, liberalism; and second, that his Islamic self-help is best understood in terms of an Islamic encounter with American metaphysical religion made possible by Carnegie's text. It argues that Ghazālī’s Islamic self-help constituted a radical reconfiguration of Western self-help, one that replaced the ethics of self-reliance and autonomy with Islamic ethical sensibilities clustered around the notions of human insufficiency and dependence upon God. In doing so, it highlights how scholars of contemporary Islam might fruitfully pose the question of how novel intellectual trends and cultural forms, like self-help, become Islamic, instead of limiting their analysis to how Islam is reshaped by modern Euro-American thought, institutions, and practices.
Dead Sea Discoveries (Volume 26, Issue 3)
A Gendered Reading of Purity and Boundaries: 4QTohorot A (4Q274) as a Case Study
By: Jessica M. Keady
Abstract: To understand purity from both the male and the female perspective within the Qumran communities, this article will be using 4QTohorot A (4Q274) as a case study to: review the formation and function of gender within the manuscript; permit a broadening of the critique of purity to include a range of gender issues; enable a discussion of the position of women in relation to female purification laws; and permit exploration of the male perspective and experience from a masculinist perspective. By concentrating on the functionality of this particular scroll, further insights will be gained to understand the gendered and identity politics at play behind such strict purity regulations in order to discern—and to imagine—what it actually meant to be a constant threat of potential pollution within communities where purity ruled all aspects of everyday life, and how such regulations worked on a gendered level.
Conceptions of Masculinity in the Scrolls and the Gendered Emotion of Anger
By: Ari Mermelstein
Abstract: This paper considers the sectarian construction of masculinity as it pertains to the emotion of anger. The hegemonic masculinity in antiquity reserves legitimate expressions of anger for men. Sectarian anger, which is a hierarchical emotion bound up in power relations, likewise reflects the sectarian conception of masculinity.
Sectarian Marital Practice: Rethinking the Role of Sexuality in the Dead Sea Scrolls
By: Maxine L. Grossman
Abstract: Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship has historically emphasized a binary between the celibate yaḥad of the Community Rule and the marrying edah of the Damascus Document and Rule of the Congregation. An early focus on celibacy has given way in recent years to arguments for the near ubiquity of marriage in the scrolls movement. In place of dichotomies of marriage and celibacy, the complexities of sexuality in the scrolls are best understood in terms of a sexually-limiting sectarian marital practice. This marital practice is grounded in a theology of perfection and is best understood in light of sociological approaches to the evidence in the scrolls. In addition to better explaining the evidence for sexuality in the scrolls, a reading from this perspective may, potentially, shed light on the perennial question of whether the movement began with marriage or celibacy as its prevailing social norm.
Female Agency by the Dead Sea: Evidence from the Babatha and Salome Komaïse Archives
By: Philip F. Esler
Abstract: The Babatha archive contains thirty-five legal papyri dating from 94 to 132 CE. They belonged to a Judean woman Babatha, from Maoza on the south-eastern shore of the Dead Sea, where date cultivation was a valuable cash crop. The Salome Komaïse archive, also concerning a family of date farmers from Maoza, consists of six papyri dated from 29 January 125 to 7 August 131. Both archives were deposited by their owners in the same cave in Wadi Ḥever at the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt. Maoza formed part of Nabatea until the kingdom became the Roman province of Arabia in 106. These papyri provide a rich array of evidence relating to the life of Babatha, Salome Komaïse and her mother Salome Grapte, and of other women, Judean and Nabatean, in this context. Particularly noteworthy is that women possessed considerable wealth, in cash and real property, and regularly acted as business-women, including by loans to their husbands. The papyri also reveal seizure of assets and frequent recourse to litigation by these women in defense of their rights. Although this was a patrilineal and patrilocal culture, the papyri provide striking examples of potent female agency, as women deployed and protected their wealth by every legal means.
International Interactions (Volume 45, Issue 5)
UN Troop Deployment and Preventing Violence Against Civilians in Darfur
By: Anup Phayal
Abstract: Does the presence of UN peacekeeping force lower civilian fatalities at the local level? If it does, is it because of their coercive military capacity or for other reasons such as their roles in monitoring and reporting violent atrocities? To explore these questions, I study the deployment of peacekeeping units in Darfur and its impact on violence against civilians. Using original geocoded data of UN deployments before and after the intervention, I examine what aspects of such deployments impact one-sided civilian killings by government and rebel groups. Results indicate that deploying UN peacekeepers in an area restrains belligerent from targeting civilians. However, the military capacity of peacekeepers is not a significant predictor of violence against civilians. While their ability to defend themselves is extremely important for peacekeepers, these findings caution against the militarization trend in UN peacekeeping and seek to reshift focus on other substantive aspects of peacekeeping.
Iran and the Caucasus (Volume 23, Issue 4)
On the Structural Aspects of Persian Elites in Achaemenid Persia
By: Ali Bahadori
Abstract: This article, focused on the Persian Gobryas, the head of Patischorian tribe and a member of the mysterious circle bringing Darius I (the Great) to the throne called the “Seven” by Herodotus, aims to argue that the concept of seven families was originally derived from the tribal structure of the Achaemenid society rather than from traditions found in classical writers. Mainly based on the administrative Elamite texts from Persepolis, the paper attempts to add contextual and practical detail to the classical narrative about the status of the “Seven” in the Achaemenid imperial system. This data leads us to the Fahliyān region in southwestern Persia as the house of the Patischorians and shows how Gobryas and his house were involved in the political, economic and administrative structures of the Persian Achaemenid Empire especially during the reign of Darius. The case also provides a valuable context for the study of various aspects of social organization particularly the land tenure.
Jihād in the Mamlūk Sultanate
By: Evgeny I. Zelenev, Milana Iliushina
Abstract: This paper focuses on the theory and practice of jihad in the Mamluk Sultanate, especially during the Circassian period (1382-1517). Some ideas of Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), Ibn Khaldūn (d. 1406), Ibn Kathīr (d. 1373), Ibn al-Naḥḥās (d. 1411), as well as scholars of the pre-Mamluk epoch are taken in consideration. The authors explore the issue of understanding jihad as the responsibility of the community (farḍ al-kifaya) and/or personal duty (farḍ al-ʿayn) and the role of jihad ideology in the inner- and international Mamluk politics.
Kufic Inscriptions of the 10th–13th Centuries from Avaristan
By: Timirlan Aytberov, Shakhban Khapizov
Abstract: The paper presents the publication of several inscriptions in the Arabic Kufic script carved on stone in the period of the tenth to thirteenth centuries and discovered in the Avar ethnic area of Dagestan. All of them, except the first one, are published for the first time. This epigraphic material indicates that the process of the gradual spread of Islam started in Dagestan already at the end of the tenth century.
Barde/askan, the City of Gardens
By: Garnik Asatrian
Abstract: The article is an attempt to interpret the toponym Bardeskan/Bardaskan, which is the name of a city and a šahrestān (“county”) located in the south of the Khorasan-e Razavi province in Iran, on the northern edge of the Great Salt desert (Kavīr-e namak). Parallelly, the author discusses also the origin of a number of other place-names from the same area.
Notes on Language Affinity and Imagined Kinships
By: Victoria Arakelova
Abstract: The paper is an attempt to analyze the emergence of virtual “alliances” based on imagined kinship between some ethnic groups and peoples of the Irano-Caucaso-Anatolian region. It focuses on several illustrative examples, particularly the case of the Talysh-Zaza rapprochement, which has been developed recently as a result of popular interpretation of the postulated theory of the Caspian-Aturpatakan language union, implying a close symbiosis, in the historical past, of the ancestors of the present-day speakers of several New Iranian dialects.
“Fatally Tied Together”: The Intertwined History of Kurds and Armenians in the 20th Century
By: David Leupold
Abstract: More than a century years ago Talât Pasha declared famously that in the Eastern Provinces “The Armenian question does not exist anymore.” Today, far from being resolved, the former binary coding (Armenian/Turkish) is even further complicated by a third element—the ongoing Kurdish question (doza Kurdistanê). While most research and journalistic works frame the Armenian issue and the Kurdish issue as two separate events that merely coincide(d) in the same geographical space, this work explores their interdependence and the historical trajectories of two peoples fatally “tied together” across a spatio-temporal scale.
Salafism in Azerbaijan: Changing the Sunni-Shiite Balance from Within
By: Ronen A. Cohen, Dina Lisnyansky
Abstract: The main effort of the Azerbaijani government regarding the historical conflict between the Shi‘a and the Sunnis in the state, is to keep the status quo between these factions. However, the Arab Spring’s regional impact and the emergence of ISIS (ISIL and IS) led to waves of religious radicalization, especially in the Sunni part of Azerbaijan, which is more Turkic aligned, yet far territorially from the immediate influence of the Islamic radicalism. The article’s main conclusion is that the Islamic radicalization in Azerbaijan could emerge only as a result of the structurally unbalanced status quo, which the Sunnis view as favoring more the Shi‘a.
Journal of Civil Society (Volume 15, Issue 4)
Turkey’s tamed civil society: Containment and appropriation under a competitive authoritarian regime
By: Bilge Yabanci
Abstract: Under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule, Turkey’s civil society has enlarged both in size and diversity of civic engagement. This development is puzzling since Turkey’s weak democratic credentials do not allow an enabling political and legal setting for civil society’s expansion. This study argues that the expansion can be explained through a particular dilemma of rulers in competitive-authoritarian (CA) regimes. The AKP is caught between the conflicting interests of appropriating and containing civil society. While the government needs to cherish civil society to sustain CA regime, it also needs to repress it, as civil society is the only arena where dissenting social forces can still carve pockets of resistance and challenge the dominant paradigms of the regime. Based on extensive fieldwork, this study discusses the patterns of containment and appropriation that have led to the steady expansion of civil society under pressure. The AKP’s dilemma has also rendered Turkey’s civil society “tamed,” namely politicized, disabled and segregated. The study broadens the understanding of relations between civil society and the state in CA regimes by offering essential insights into how these regimes are sustained, entrenched and also contested through and within civil society.
Journal of Institutional Economics (Volume 15, Issue 5)
The evolution of property rights in Hellenistic Greece and the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt
By: Emmanouil M. L. Economou, Nicholas C. Kyriazis
Abstract: In the present paper we trace the development of property rights during the Hellenistic period (third to second centuries BCE), focusing on Athens, the democratic Hellenistic federations and the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt. Property rights had been already well developed and protected by courts and state laws during the previous Classical period in ancient Greece, but we argue that they further evolved during the Hellenistic period due to the introduction of a series of new political and economic institutions. We found that there was a causal relationship between the evolution of property rights and the further development of economic institutions in Hellenistic Athens and the Hellenistic federations. We finally argue that the development and adoption of market-oriented economic institutions by the Ptolemaic Kingdom should be attributed to the great influence that these institutions had in the entire Hellenistic world, which resulted in their diffusion from the democratic states to kingdoms.
What do workers want? Institutional complementarity as a mechanism of social change
By: Arie Krampf
Abstract: This article presents a theory of social protection expansion in late-developing open economies based on actors’ perceptions of complementarity. Drawing on recent theories of institutional change and political economic theories of welfare regimes, the article explains why in late-developing open economies, processes of liberalization often result in social welfare expansion. The explanation is based on the existence of institutional complementarity between the production regime and the social welfare regime. The article offers an agent-based theory of change according to which actors–state or market actors–are likely to promote welfare expansion amid their expectations of higher payoffs and/or improved performance of the liberalized economy. This theory challenges the more conventional Power Resource Theory, according to which welfare regimes are shaped primarily by the balance of power between workers and employers. To test the theory, the article analyzes the enactment of the unemployment insurance law in Israel (1972).
The political economy of property rights in monarchical Iraq: the quest for land reform 1944–1958
By: Omar A. M. El-Joumayle, Bassam Yousif
Abstract: This article explores the challenges of redefining property rights for land, with application to monarchical Iraq from 1944 to 1958. We apply two processes in the analysis of economic institutions to study history: a puzzle-solving method at the micro level, with broader interest in the role of institutions in development and economic growth at the macro level. Thus, we explore the interaction between demanders and suppliers of land reform in the political market, focusing on the parliamentary influence of big landholders as an interest group. We conclude that despite increasing demand for land reform, politicians were able to supply quantitative change only, consisting of the allocation of newly arable land to landless cultivators, rather than the redistribution of existing assets or qualitative change. We analyze these findings in relation to our concern for the role of institutions in development. Our discussion uncovers key insights into Iraq's political economy and its institutions.
Journal of Near Eastern Studies (Volume 78, Issue 2)
Taxing Achaemenid Arachosia: Evidence from Persepolis
By: Rhyne King
Abstract: Not available
Fighting for the Faith? Notes on Women and War in Early Islam
By: Rana Mikati
Abstract: Not available
The Oracle BOQ 1, “Trouble,” and the Dūr-Abiešuḫ Texts: The End of Babylon I
By: Seth Richardson
Abstract: Not available
The Annihilation and Mutilation of Egyptian Deities in Mythological and Ritual Texts
By: Amgad Joseph
Abstract: Not available
Religious Invocations on Umayyad Lead Seals: Evidence of an Emergent Islamic Lexicon
By: Tareq A. Ramadan
Abstract: Not available
Now You See Him, Now You Don’t: Anthropomorphic Representations of the Hittite Kings
By: Müge Durusu-Tanriöver
Abstract: Not available
The Economic Spark of the Burning of the Temple of Apollo in Daphne
By: David R. Edwards
Abstract: Not available
“I Am”: The Function, History, and Diffusion of the Fronted First-Person Pronoun in Syro-Anatolian Monumental Discourse
By: Timothy Hogue
Abstract: Not available
Journal of Qur'anic Studies (Volume 21, Issue 3)
In Pursuit of Consonance: Science and Religion in Modern Works of tafsīr
By: Ayman Shabana
Abstract: One of the most important types of scholarly literature to highlight the contentious debate on the relationship between Islam and modern science has been modern commentary on the Qur'an (tafsir). This paper examines how modern commentators have conceptualized the relationship between religion and science and how, in turn, this modern concern with science has led to the emergence of a new genre within tafsir literature. The article explores the extent to which this new genre represents an extension to earlier forms of tafsir and how authors of this genre relate their work to the extended exegetical tradition. Special attention is devoted to Tafsīr al-manār by Muḥammad ʿAbduh and Rashīd Riḍā and its impact on subsequent works of tafsir, with a particular focus on Tafsīr al-jawāhir by Ṭanṭāwī Jawharī. The article aims to analyze the epistemic authority of science in these works and explore how this authority has been used for the construction of the divine text in light of modern knowledge and sensibilities.
ʿAbd al-Majīd al-Zindānī's iʿjāz ʿilmī Approach: Embryonic Development in Q. 23:12–14 as a Scientific Miracle
By: Melanie Guénon
Abstract: This article focuses on contemporary scientific exegesis of the Qur'an, analyzing ʿAbd al-Majīd al-Zindānī's unique model of embryonic development derived from Q. 23:12–14. Since the majority of Muslim legal scholars consider the three main stages of embryonic development mentioned in Q. 23:12–14 to take place within 120 days, this view has been considered as the majority Muslim view in academic research. However, I claim that since the 1980s al-Zindānī has successfully disseminated the perception that the embryonic stages mentioned in the Qur'anic text take place over 40 days. An examination of al-Zindānī's work and publications by the Commission on the Scientific Miracles in the Qur'an and Sunna (CSMQS) demonstrates that al-Zindānī uses an iʿjāz ʿilmī approach (i.e. seeking to establish harmony between the Qur'an and modern natural science) to advocate a new interpretation of the Qur'anic stages of embryonic development in order to validate the connection between modern science and the Qur'an. I argue that his model rests on three hermeneutical strategies: first, the reformulation of Ibn al-Qayyim's (d. 751/1350) model of embryonic development; second, the modification of the last Qur'anic stage from khalq to nashʾa; and third, his preference for the variant of the so-called Ibn Masʿūd ḥadith canonized in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. Accordingly, he does not follow the fiqh tradition and excludes the stage of the embryo's ensoulment from his model. It is this exclusion of the ensoulment and the reformulation of the developmental stages that enables al-Zindānī to align his model with both the Qur'anic text and modern scientific findings.
The Hermeneutics of Miracle: Evolution, Eloquence, and the Critique of Scientific Exegesis in the Literary School of tafsīr. Part I: From Muḥammad ʿAbduh to Amīn al-Khūlī
By: Shuruq Naguib
Abstract: One of the earliest and more enduring modern critiques of scientific exegesis of the Qur'an (al-tafsīr al-ʿilmī) emerges out of the literary school of tafsir. First advanced by Amīn al-Khūlī in the 1930s and later elaborated by Bint al-Shāṭiʾ, the main premise of their critique is that, first and foremost, a modern hermeneutic appropriate for the Qur'an's textuality must develop from the linguistic and literary traditions of Arabic. This paper focuses on al-Khūlī, situating his critique in the broader context of Muḥammad ʿAbduh's hermeneutic legacy. First, it examines ʿAbduh's reconfiguration of the premodern conception of the Qur'an's miraculousness, and its impact on al-Khūlī's efforts to renew a literary-aesthetic appreciation of the Qur'an's miracle and experiment with the notion of its extraordinary psychological effect. Secondly, based on an enquiry into a number of his writings, the paper demonstrates that al-Khūlī's approach also reflects a faithful espousal of ʿAbduh's ideas about science, and that his literary contribution to the question of the Qur'an's miracle is emphatically configured through a scientific—primarily evolutionary—outlook. In the course of the paper, it becomes apparent that even al-Khūlī's critique of scientific exegesis is largely derived from his evolutionary epistemology. The main contention of this paper is that al-Khūlī's commitment to science was philosophical, but his critique of scientific exegesis was methodological. And it is only by interrogating these aspects of his thought together that we come to understand the underlying hermeneutic assumptions which inform his objections to scientific exegesis.
Creation as Text: The Graphological Trope in Said Nursi's Risāle-i nūr
By: Colin Turner
Abstract: Reading the act of creation as written or spoken narrative seems to have gained currency across the faith traditions from very early on. The Muslim tradition is no exception. As the ‘pen and ink’ verse in the Qur'an shows, the notion of creation as an assemblage of divine words is as old as Islam itself. It was not until the advent of Muslim mysticism, however, that writers began to build on the image's revelatory foundations. The present study is an introductory analysis of extended metaphor in the work of the Ottoman theologian Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, with particular reference to the use of the “graphological trope” in his six-thousand-page exegesis of the Qur'an known as the Risale-i Nur (The Epistles of Light). The aim is to draw attention to Nursi's use of a particular literary conceit that is deserving of further study. Of the few works on Nursi and his teachings that stand up to serious academic scrutiny, nothing of substance has been written about the language of the Risale-i Nur. It is hoped that this exploratory article will spur other scholars on to a more extensive survey and analysis of imagery in Nursi's oeuvre.
The Shāhīn Affair and the Evolution of uṣūl al-tafsīr
By: Sohaib Saeed
Abstract: In 1997, the distinguished linguistics professor ʿAbd al-Ṣabūr Shāhīn of Cairo University published his re-reading of the story of creation, entitled Abī Ādam (My Father Adam). Although the book created a storm of refutations, televised debates, and a blasphemy charge against the author, the Islamic Research Council of al-Azhar University concluded that the book was flawed but not blasphemous. This paper sheds light on Shāhīn's key strategies in arguing for an evolutionary reading of the Qur'an, in which Adam was the first full human (insan) endowed with divine spirit, but born on earth to hominid parents (bashar). Responses by two other linguist scholars, ʿAbd al-ʿAẓīm Ibrāhīm al-Maṭʿanī of al-Azhar and Ḥamza b. Qublān al-Muzaynī of King Saud University, illustrate the contemporary underdevelopment of Qur'anic hermeneutics (uṣul al-tafsir) as a discipline. The paper draws attention to current scholarly developments in the Muslim world and the move from refutations to constructive accounts based on tradition.
Journal of Social History (Volume 53, Issue 1)
Affective Politics of Structural Adjustment: “Cruel Optimism” and Turhan Selçuk’s Cartoons in Turkey, 1983–1986
By: Gizem Zencirci
Abstract: This article contributes to the social history of neoliberalism by analyzing the emotions, feelings, and sentiments through which Turkish people experienced the structural adjustment program of the 1980s. I argue that market reforms were experienced through a paradoxical entanglement of desire and disillusionment—an affective politics that Lauren Berlant defines as “cruel optimism.” This concept captures the ways in which neoliberalism generates a series of aspirations, longings, and yearnings that can never be fully achieved or satisfied but nevertheless pulls subjects toward an imagined future. I examine these collective feelings through a visual analysis of Kemalist intellectual Turhan Selçuk’s editorial cartoons that were published in the center-left newspaper Milliyet between 1983 and 1986. These editorial cartoons function in complex ways, providing relief through satire but also narrating the ways in which a sense of optimism encircled sentiments of anxiety, despair, and precarity. I identify three distinctive instances of cruel optimism in his work: first, the will to retain control over economic affairs despite the dominance of international organizations, second, the hope that trade liberalization shall bring prosperity amidst mounting class inequality, and third, the allure of consumption even when most of the population was unable to afford export commodities. Rather than demonstrating a clear temporal gap between the promise and demise of market reforms, the article reveals the coproduction of two oppositional affective registers and suggests that the fluctuation between willingness and reluctance is a constitutive element of neoliberal subjectivity.
Mediterranean Politics (Volume 24, Issues 3 & 4)
Yarmouk, Jordan, and Disi basins: Examining the impact of the discourse of water scarcity in Jordan on transboundary water governance
By: Hussam Hussein
Abstract: Extensive literature has shown the impact of water scarcity discourses on national policies, however the impact of water scarcity discourses on transboundary water governance has been overlooked. This article contributes to filling this gap by investigating the impact of the water scarcity discourse in the case of Jordan, specifically on three cases of transboundary water governance: the Yarmouk River, the Jordan River and the Disi Aquifer. This article shows that the water scarcity discourse is not enough to explain transboundary water governance, as it needs to be contextualized in the broader context, considering national security, regional geopolitics, inter-sectorial interests, and power asymmetries. This is particularly true when considering that the Arab region has most of its surface waters originating outside of its countries, and transboundary waters represent over two thirds of its overall water resources.
Crafting a business Umma? transnational networks of ‘Islamic businessmen’ after the Arab Spring
By: Marie Vannetzel, Dilek Yankaya
Abstract: This article focuses on the transnational project, led by Turkish Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association (Müsiad), of crafting a community of Islamic businessmen. The Arab Springs opened new opportunities to further this project, especially in Tunisia and Egypt where Islamist groups rose to power after 2011. In both countries, Müsiad supported the creation of two Islamic business associations, exporting its own organizational model. Examining this circulation process, we question the classical dichotomy between economic and advocacy transnational networks. We also show how this transnational activism is constrained by divergent domestic patterns of relationships between Islamists, business and states in each country.
Reconsidering the role of non-public actors in Turkish policy-making
By: Elise Massicard, Claire Visier
Abstract: Indirect forms of government have become increasingly prominent in Turkey over the last few decades. After giving an overview of the growing role of non-public actors in Turkish policy-making, we depart from the common idea that the phenomenon is a result of neoliberalism only and examine the multiple genealogies and complex dynamics at work. The paper then questions the preconception according to which the involvement of non-public actors implies a retreat of the state and frames these developments in terms of changing forms of government. Finally, we question the outcomes of this phenomenon in terms of policy and power reconfigurations.
Collaboration gone awry: The formation of women’s shelters as public institutions in Turkey
By: Berna Ekal
Abstract: Turkey is an interesting case in that its women’s shelters are mainly both established and run by public actors; in many other countries these institutions, though funded by public authorities, are mainly run by NGOs. By looking at the relationship between the feminist movement and the public authorities from the 1990s onwards, this paper argues that in the case of public women’s shelters, the engagement of non-public actors in policy-making processes has resulted in the perpetuation (rather than the retreat) of the state’s presence.
Coproduction of participation policies in Turkey: The making of city councils
By: Melike Yalçın-Riollet
Abstract: This paper uses the case of the city councils to study the introduction of new possibilities for citizen participation in Turkish policy-making. In Turkish political science literature, city councils are simply described either as a result of the coercive influence of international organizations, or a “civil society” initiative included in the agenda by the political power. The paper demonstrates that these participatory mechanisms have been coproduced by a complex network of domestic state and non-state actors, yet are not fully controlled by any of the actors engaged in their making.
The empowerment of Turkish governors within hybrid settings of public administration
By: Cemil Yıldızcan, Ulaş Bayraktar
Abstract: The widespread reforms of Turkish public administration and the machinery of government from 2000s onwards resulted in a gradual delegation of certain state’s functions to local and non-state actors, through a gradual rescaling of the policy-making systems and a remarkable hybridization of governance logics. The relevant literature focuses largely on the rising role and importance of involving non-state actors rather than state officials in policy-making processes. The paper explains how the scope and the method of public agents’ influence adapt to the current context of so-called neoliberalization of public administration in Turkey. The paper discusses in detail provincial governors with regard to their relatively “disguised” power in social and economic policies through new hybrid mechanisms.
When unemployment meets environment. The case of the anti-fracking coalition in Ouargla
By: Naoual Belakhdar
Abstract: The ‘Popular Committee Against Shale Gas,’ which emerged in the city of Ouargla in 2014 to protest governmental fracking plans in the Sahara, constitutes an interesting case of coalition building between a movement of unemployed and environmental activists, operating in Algeria’s uncertain post-electoral context. Given strong fragmentation of the contentious space, the question of what enabled these groups to converge becomes even more relevant. Drawing on research on contentious politics, resistance and participation in authoritarian contexts as well as on ethnographic fieldwork from 2014 to 2016, the paper explores how this unusual coalition was formed, analyzes the unemployed movement’s motivation to join the struggle against fracking, and examines the modalities of how both groups temporarily managed to overcome their differences by producing common mobilization frames. Despite the challenges this coalition faced, especially their differing class identities, diverging long-term interests and authoritarian destabilization strategies, this paper sheds light on the ambivalent power dynamics within the coalition and the transformation processes that become apparent.
Egypt is not for sale! Harnessing nationalism for alliance building in Egypt’s Tiran and Sanafir island protests
By: Jannis Julien Grimm
Abstract: Adopting a discourse-theoretical perspective on contentious politics in Egypt, this article investigates how in early 2016 the transfer of the archipelago of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia became a catalyst for oppositional subject formation and the emergence of an unlikely protest coalition. Drawing on a combination of protest event analysis and discourse analysis, it explores how the land swap provided the opposition with an opportunity to challenge the state’s nationalist prestige, and produced relations that favored cross-movement mobilization. The so-called “Popular Campaign to Protect the Land” brought together leftists, liberals and nationalists, and thus enabled the articulation of broader socio-political demands in an otherwise closed context. The case study illustrates how dissonance between the discourse and practices of nationalist regimes can trigger cross-ideological collaboration. It furthermore shows how the emergence, as well as the trajectory and goals of such alliances, are shaped by interaction with the state.
Corporatist coalitions as agents of civil society: The politics of student and labour unions in Iran
By: Zep Kalb
Abstract: Authoritarian states often establish membership-based associations to channel popular grievances and to engage in mass mobilization. Across the MENA, state-controlled, “corporatist” associations frequently co-exist alongside less state- controlled and more pluralist networks and associations. Scholars argue that such heterogeneity in the modes of state control explains authoritarian adaptiveness and resilience.
Coalitions for change in Egypt: Bridging ideological and generational divides in the revolution
By: Chaymaa Hassabo
Abstract: The Egyptian Movement for Change (Kifaya) was created in 2004 to raise “democratic” demands voiced by a wide range of political actors: Islamists, radical leftists or liberals, as well as “independents.” Using a repertoire based on street demonstrations this movement centered its action on the issue of political change in Mubarak’s Egypt in the late 2000s.
Bridging the gap: Social divides and coalition building in the phosphate-mining industry in Jordan
By: Claudie Fioroni
Abstract: Research on coalitions mainly focuses on the formation of coalitions between well established, formally and politically organized groups. Less attention has been placed on coalitions that form between groups that are not formally organized but, nonetheless, identify themselves and others as clearly distinct social groups. Through the analysis of the coalition of employees that formed in the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company in 2011, this article argues that the study of such coalitions not only opens up new analytical perspectives for a better understanding of coalition building and its “transformative” effects, but also represents an insightful analytical tool to investigate the micro-sociological dynamics of local political arenas. After examining the processes of dissociation and association that make the JPMC employees’ protest movement a coalition, the article discusses the effect of coalition building in reshuffling pre-existing divides, and the political significance of such reshuffling in the Jordanian context.
Middle East Report (Issue 292/3)
Iraqis Demand a Country
By: Zahra Ali
Abstract: Not Available
By: Rima Majed, Lana Salman
Abstract: This uprising is demanding justice beyond sectarian, class, religious or cultural divides. In the clarity brought about by the uprising, the regime’s politics of division has been challenged by the uprising’s politics of solidarity.
Dhiban as Barometer of Jordan’s Rural Discontent
By: Colfax Phillips
Abstract: Dhiban shares with much of rural Jordan a long history of seismic societal shifts and gradual economic marginalization. This history forebodes continued unrest in underdeveloped areas as long as economic problems remain unaddressed.
Resurgent Protests Confront New and Old Red Lines in Jordan
By: Curtis Ryan
Abstract: In response to multiple waves of protests, including a surge of protests in 2019, the Jordanian state has worked hard to establish and enforce five red lines for the protests not to cross in order to rein in the potential impact of unified protests across the kingdom.
Regional Uprisings Confront Gulf-Backed Counterrevolution
By: Jonathan Fenton-Harvey
Abstract: Wealthy, ambitious and emboldened by US acquiescence, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have emerged as key protagonists in thwarting popular movements.
Regional Authoritarians Target the Twittersphere
By: Alexei Abrahams
Abstract: Saudi Arabia’s illicit infiltration of Twitter turns out to be only the tip of the iceberg of regional regime’s efforts to wrest control of political discourse on social media.
Egypt’s Post-2011 Embrace of Russian-Style Misinformation Campaigns
By: Nathaniel Greenberg
Abstract: Since the 2013 coup, Egypt’s posture vis à vis information and cyber warfare has evolved from a defensive one—geared toward domestic surveillance and blocking—to an offensive one also focused on influence operations abroad. This shift has pulled Egypt further into an open embrace of Russia.
Trauma as a Counterrevolutionary Strategy
By: Vivienne Matthies-Boon
Abstract: Recent research in Egypt demonstrates how trauma can be (and has been) weaponized as a counterrevolutionary strategy by military and political elites who seek to maintain and strengthen their economic and political power.
The Political Economy of Erdoğan’s Syria Gamble
By: Şahan Savaş Karataşlı
Abstract: Not Available
The Battle for South Yemen
By: Susanne Dahlgren
Abstract: Despite the recent agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia, it may also be the case that the fight for the future of the country has begun between forces that want militarily either to occupy or liberate South Yemen.
Toward Religious Zionist Hegemony in Israel
By: Yoav Peled
Abstract: Religious Zionism provides ideological leadership to the ascendant right-wing bloc and increasingly to Jewish Israeli society as a whole.
The Washington Quarterly (Volume 42, Issue 3)
Does Al Qaeda Have a Future?
By: Daniel Byman
Abstract: Not Available