Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘peer-reviewed articles

Part 1. Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI): Peer-Reviewed Articles

“Protection Against Domestic Violence in Jordanian Law and International Conventions”

By: Laith K. Nasrawin

Abstract: This article addresses the issue of protection against domestic violence in both Jordanian law and international conventions. It does so by defining domestic violence and its various causes, and by exploring the relevant global standards and best international practices for combating it.

The article also deals with the reality of protection against domestic violence in Jordan by referring to the special protection of the family and to the related follow-up by national and governmental institutions, and the relevant national standards.

The Law Regarding Protection from Domestic Violence (Law No. 6/2008) contains protective provisions and other treatments to reduce this phenomenon, but it fails to provide optimal protection against domestic violence. (Optimal protection? Like changing human passions and myths?)

The article proposes a set of recommendations to improve national standards for protection against domestic violence so that Jordan’s laws concerning protection against domestic violence can conform to international standards.

“Sub-Centres of Power in Shiʿi Islam: Women of ʿAlid descent in the Contemporary Near East”

By: Raffaele Mauriello

Abstract: A peculiar characteristic of the Islamic civilization is represented by the Prophet’s family (Ahl al-Bayt), whose history spans over 14 centuries and whose members have played at different times and places an important role in the Muslim world.

The Prophet’s kinfolk are collectively known either as sādat (sing. sayyid) or as ashrāf (sing. sharīf). Within this kinfolk, the ‘Alids claim to descend from the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima and his cousin ‘Ali.

(Note 1: Muhammad had 2 boys who died before age 5. He had 4 girls who married to sa7abats, those who emigrated to Yathreb (Al Madina) from Mecca)

It has been argued that the ‘Alids represent a formidable example of the necessity to re-formulate the two categories of ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ in accordance with the distinctive features of the Islamic civilization.

In this respect, Biancamaria Scarcia Amoretti has coined the terms centri dislocati (‘sub-centres’ or ‘centres in the periphery’) and centro deputato (‘designated centre’) to analyse the role of the ʿAlids as key actors in the dialectical dynamics that define the ‘centre’ and in initiating political, religious, and cultural movements or changes.

This essay argues for the importance of including ‘Alid women in the human geography framework formulated by Scarcia Amoretti. The case study concerns women of a remarkable ʿAlid family of the Shiʿi religious establishment of the Near East, the al-Sadr.

(Note 2: Women in the 7th century had plenty of power and wrote themselves their marriage contracts. They divorced once a clause was reneged upon. This generation of women were taught and learned their rights from Aicha, the beloved wife of Muhammad)

“Refugees and the Case for International Authority in the Middle East: The League of Nations and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East Compared”

By: Laura Robson

Abstract: In the immediate aftermath of World War I, the newly formed League of Nations saw Middle Eastern refugees—particularly displaced Armenians and Assyrians scattered in camps across the Eastern Mediterranean—as venues for working out new forms of internationalism.

Note: The Armenians and minority religious groups who were transferred from Turkey (genocide) were sheltered by the Syrians in Aleppo and Deir Zour, before many transferred to Lebanon, Europe  and USA. They didn’t feel like living in concentration camps since they could leave any time and work in the cities)

In the late 1940s, following the British abandonment of the Palestine Mandate and the subsequent Zionist expulsion of most of the Palestinian Arab population, the new United Nations revived this concept of a refugee crisis requiring international intervention.

This paper examines the parallel ways in which advocates for both the nascent League of Nations and the United Nations made use of mass refugee flows to formulate arguments for new, highly visible, and essentially permanent iterations of international authority across the Middle East.

“The New Arab Left and 1967”

By: Sune Haugbolle

Abstract: In Arab political culture, the Naksa of 1967 (The term Nakba is reserved for 1948 as Israel transferred Palestinians from their villages to neighboring States, like Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and Gaza) had a number of watershed effects.

Scholars have paid a lot of attention to the decline of secular Arab nationalism, and the concurrent rise of Islamism. Much less research has been done on the way 1967 spurred radical left organizations, also known as ‘the new Arab left’, to organize resistance against Israel as well as gain a foothold in national politics.

This article analyzes what 1967 meant for groups such as P.F.L.P., D.F.L.P., O.C.A.L. and the Syrian Communist Party – Political Bureau, and the wider political culture associated with the new left: its media, journals and art.

Based on readings of this cultural production and new research on the tri-continental movement, revolutionary socialism and Third-Worldism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, this article argues that the defeat of 1967 helped to determine the shape of the revolutionary moment that followed.

This moment has had a lasting impact on Arab political culture and is being re-interpreted in interesting ways today by Arab revolutionaries post-2011.

“Islamizing the Palestinian–Israeli Conflict: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood”

By: Noha Mellor

Abstract: The Arab capitulation in the Six Day War was posited to stimulate the so-called Islamic resurgence in the region since the 1970s, which several scholars see as a sign of Islamic resistance to the Western cultural presence within the Arab world.

This article argues that Islamizing the conflict began well before the 1967 defeat, and that the hegemony of the Islamist discourse has been made possible owing to its penetration into mainstream political and media discourses.

It is also argued that by ‘religionizing’ the Palestinian–Israeli conflict, Islamists provide a new narrative to reshape and reframe the perception of this conflict as being religious rather than political in nature. (Actually, it is the “Christian” Evangelical Zionists that financed and supported politically the establishment of State of Israel)

The article takes the Muslim Brotherhood as a topical case study, demonstrating how its print and digital media highlighted the Islamization of the conflict with Israel, and providing frequent references to the 1967 defeat as evidence of God’s wrath meted out on Arab rulers, not only for abandoning the Islamic State project, but also for oppressing Islamist movements.

Note: Erdogan of Turkey is wrapping himself with the flag of Muslim Brotherhood movement to lead them in Egypt, Syria, Libya and Qatar. This movement was first instituted in Egypt in the early 1920’s.

“In the Shadow of the 1967 War: Israel and the Palestinians”

By: Amal Jamal

Abstract: The 1967 war in the Middle East has had major ramifications on the entire region including Israel. This article focuses on 3 of the major longstanding ramifications, namely the change in the demographic balance between Jews and Palestinians west of the Jordan River, and the challenge that the military regime imposed on the Palestinians in the newly occupied Palestinian territories poses regarding the nature of the Israeli regime as a whole and the reconnecting of Palestinians and citizens of Israel, with their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This article demonstrates how Israeli policies towards Palestinians impacted the disposition of the Palestinian community inside Israel, and how the coming together of Israeli policy changes in the Palestinian struggle for independence and social transformations inside the Palestinian community in Israel have led to different adaptation strategies among the Palestinians to face their in-between reality.

“Syria – From the Six Day War to the Syrian Civil War”

By: Eyal Zisser

Abstract: The story of Syria during the Six-Day War is the story of a state whose leadership was young, inexperienced, reckless, and radical; it sowed fire and reaped a firestorm.

For a while, the war seemed as a turning point in the history of Syria since it led to the rise of Hafiz al-Asad, who gave his country political stability that enabled him to turn it into a powerful and esteemed state at home and abroad.

Asad’s era was marked by freeze, stagnation, and the maintenance of the status quo which became the essence of the Syrian regime’s policies and course of action not only vis-à-vis Israel, but also in its activity domestically, whether in the social, political, or economic sphere.

The ultimate result, as this article argues, was the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, which demonstrated that the appearance of stability and strength projected by the regime was a complete facade.

Note: Syria in that period was the only State with No sovereign foreign debt and was economically independent in matter of foodstuff. It established universal healthcare and free education, even in the universities. 

“From Cooperation to Normalization? Jordan–Israel Relations Since 1967”

By: Ronen Yitzhak

Abstract: This article deals with the relations between Jordan and Israel from 1967 until 2015. The mutual interest of the Hashemite regime and the Zionist movement, namely to oppose the Palestinians, created the first opportunity for cooperation, which developed into economic ties and intelligence exchanges during the reign of the first appointed King by Britain King Abdullah I.

A real strategic alliance between Jordan and Israel was formed in the 1950s, when Egyptian President Gamal Abd al-Nasser, together with other nationalist Arab elements, tried to subvert King Hussein’s regime and topple him.

Israel unhesitatingly came to the side of the Hashemite ruler to protect Jordanian territorial sovereignty. This perception of Jordan informed Israel’s policy, which aimed to aid Jordan in confronting new challenges to the regime.

The fact that Israel has stood by the Hashemite regime through most of its existence indicates a strategic partnership that will sustain, even if the peace treaty were to be revoked one day.

Note: Jordan was created mainly because Britain and the USA expected to chase out the Palestinians after the recognition of Israel. The intelligence agency of Jordan monarchy was trained from its inception to secure Israel and gather intelligence from the neighboring States to back Israel policies. It never changed its objectives till now

 

The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the second 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.

Arab Law Quarterly (Volume 31, Issues 3 & 4)

 

“Two ICC Arbitrations Disturbed by Two Court Orders: The Impact of Ignoring the Power of the ICC Court to Extend the Time Limit for the Award”

By: Mostafa Abu-Hagras

Abstract: The 1994 Egyptian Arbitration Act has conferred the jurisdiction to terminate arbitral proceedings, if the time limit for the award expires, on Egypt’s courts. The Egyptian courts have wrongfully terminated two International Chamber of Commerce arbitration proceedings. Egypt’s Court of Cassation has ultimately reversed the decisions of the Egyptian lower courts, so the two ICC arbitration awards have survived. This article examines the manner in which the Egyptian courts were asked to grant, recognise or refuse to recognise the termination orders, and clarifies how arbitrators, the ICC Court, and parties reacted to them.

“Between Theory(-ies) and Practice(-s): Legal Devices (Ḥiyal) in Classical Islamic Law”

By: Valentino Cattelan

Abstract: By assuming a disconnection between jurists’ doctrines and the reality of social life, Joseph Schacht interpreted ḥiyal (legal devices) in classical Islamic law as ‘the maximum that custom could concede, and the minimum (that is to say, formal acknowledgment) that the theory had to demand’.

Challenging this interpretation, this article argues that ḥiyal were not exclusively the products of commercial customs that were unrelated to the jurists’ ideal law. In actual fact, the diverging contractual theories of the Sunni maḏāhib contributed to the development of diverse ḥiyal practices, whose social acceptance in medieval trade was correspondingly fostered (or rejected) by underlying fiqh doctrines.

“Developing Internet Jurisdiction in B2B and B2C Contracts: Focusing on Iranian Legal System with Comparative Study of American, English and EU Laws”

By: Taher Habibzadeh

Abstract: In the modern world, electronic communications play a significant role in areas of national and international law such as Internet jurisdiction. Private international law provides that the competent court is the court within which jurisdiction the contract is performed, so it is important to know the place of performance of the contract in the case of contracts for digital goods such as e-books or computer software delivered online. It is equally important in the case of electronic services such as e-teaching.

As consumer protection in B2C contracts is important in developing global e-commerce, it is alos important to consider whether the consumer party is able to bring an action against the business party in his own place of domicile or habitual residence. The article analyses these questions and proposes ways in which the Iranian legal system might be developed to address issues of Internet jurisdiction in B2B and B2C contracts.

“Modern Extremist Groups and the Division of the World: A Critique from an Islamic Perspective”

By: Mohamed Badar a, Masaki Nagata b

Abstract: Modern extremist groups have revived the use of certain concepts of Islamic dogma and wilfully misinterpreted them as a means of achieving their own ends. Dae‘sh (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is the most striking example. They have made declarations of takfir (excommunication) regarding Muslim rulers, maintaining that only Dae‘sh land is a dar al-Islam (abode of Islam), and that other lands are dar al-kufr or harb (abodes of unbelief or war), just as the Khawarij sect believed in the 7th century CE.

They do not employ the concept of hijra (migration) in its traditional, defensive sense, but rather as a means of strengthening their own power by recruiting from around the world and launching military jihads- all in order to ‘reclaim’ the dar al-kufr and establish an Islamic state. This article examines the evolution of these terms throughout Islamic history, their misinterpretation by extremist groups, and their modern legal status.

“Does an Islamic Finance Industry Need a Unification of Standards? A Qualitative Discussion”

By: Aminath Amany Ahmed; Azhar Mohamad, Aghilasse Kashi

Abstract: The two main problems faced by the Islamic finance industry in Muslim countries are that of fragmented markets, which give rise to different governing standards, and that of very much region-centric market growth. In this article, using a qualitative approach, we identify the obstacles facing the industry in its quest to unify the differences and implement a uniform standard. We argue that if Malaysia’s Islamic finance industry is to become a leader in the global Islamic finance industry, a key policy must be to reduce the gaps in Islamic finance practices between countries by adopting unified standards.

Unifying standards could enable Muslim countries to accrue greater benefits from the globalization of the Islamic financial sector, and attract more foreign direct investment and portfolio equity flows. It could also enable greater integration of Islamic financial markets, increase diversification opportunities and expand the set of available financial instruments.

“Protection Against Domestic Violence in Jordanian Law and International Conventions”

By: Laith K. Nasrawin

Abstract: This article addresses the issue of protection against domestic violence in both Jordanian law and international conventions. It does so by defining domestic violence and its various causes, and by exploring the relevant global standards and best international practices for combating it. The article also deals with the reality of protection against domestic violence in Jordan by referring to the special protection of the family and to the related follow-up by national and governmental institutions, and the relevant national standards.

The Law Regarding Protection from Domestic Violence (Law No. 6/2008) contains protective provisions and other treatments to reduce this phenomenon, but it fails to provide optimal protection against domestic violence. The article proposes a set of recommendations to improve national standards for protection against domestic violence so that Jordan’s laws concerning protection against domestic violence can conform to international standards.

“Fundamentals of the Real Estate Legislative System and Its Impact on Sustainable Development: Dubai Case Study”

By: Iyad Mohammed Jadalhaq

Abstract: The real estate legislative system is one of the bases of the sustainable development process. This research focuses on the role of the legal system in sustainable development, according to the most prominent and relevant international reports. The UAE ranked forty-first globally in the Human Development Index (HDI). In the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Report’, the UAE ranked second globally and first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for the ‘Dealing with Construction Permits’ indicator. Thus, the Emirate of Dubai is deemed the second-best city in the world in terms of ease of dealing with construction permits. For the ‘Registering Property’ indicator, the UAE ranked tenth globally and first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Despite the UAE’s great achievements in terms of developmental ranking at the global level, there is still more to achieve in the field of development.

British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 44, Issue 4 & Volume 45, Issue 1)

 

“The Rewards of Failure: Persisting Military Rule in Egypt”

By: Robert Springborg

Abstract: The Egyptian military, having been bogged down for almost five years in a losing war in Yemen, had to deal with a crushing defeat in June 1967. Similar defeats elsewhere, such as in Argentina and Greece, have led to militaries being removed from power. In Egypt, however, Nasser salvaged his and the military’s rule by purging elements of the High Command, by repressing the nascent protest movement, and by calling in the Soviets to rebuild and essentially command his armed forces. Half a century later, the military is even more firmly in control of Egypt.

Having ridden out successive challenges to its authority, including Sadat’s attempted civilianization, the global Third Wave of democracy, Mubarak’s effort to establish a family dynasty, the uprising of 2011 and the Muslim Brothers’ one-year interregnum, the Egyptian military’s political persistence is virtually unmatched in the region or indeed, the world. After tracing the historical evolution of military rule from 1967, this article explores the structural bases for the persistence of its power before assessing the overwhelmingly negative consequences of this remarkably protracted military rule of what was once the leading Arab country.

“The New Arab Left and 1967”

By: Sune Haugbolle

Abstract: In Arab political culture, the Naksa of 1967 had a number of watershed effects. Scholars have paid a lot of attention to the decline of secular Arab nationalism, and the concurrent rise of Islamism. Much less research has been done on the way 1967 spurred radical left organizations, also known as ‘the new Arab left’, to organize resistance against Israel as well as gain a foothold in national politics.

This article analyzes what 1967 meant for groups such as P.F.L.P., D.F.L.P., O.C.A.L. and the Syrian Communist Party – Political Bureau, and the wider political culture associated with the new left: its media, journals and art. Based on readings of this cultural production and new research on the tri-continental movement, revolutionary socialism and Third-Worldism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, this article argues that the defeat of 1967 helped to determine the shape of the revolutionary moment that followed. This moment has had a lasting impact on Arab political culture and is being re-interpreted in interesting ways today by Arab revolutionaries post-2011.

“Islamizing the Palestinian–Israeli Conflict: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood”

By: Noha Mellor

Abstract: The Arab capitulation in the Six Day War was posited to stimulate the so-called Islamic resurgence in the region since the 1970s, which several scholars see as a sign of Islamic resistance to the Western cultural presence within the Arab world. This article argues that Islamizing the conflict began well before the 1967 defeat, and that the hegemony of the Islamist discourse has been made possible owing to its penetration into mainstream political and media discourses. It is also argued that by ‘religionizing’ the Palestinian–Israeli conflict, Islamists provide a new narrative to reshape and reframe the perception of this conflict as being religious rather than political in nature.

The article takes the Muslim Brotherhood as a topical case study, demonstrating how its print and digital media highlighted the Islamization of the conflict with Israel, and providing frequent references to the 1967 defeat as evidence of God’s wrath meted out on Arab rulers, not only for abandoning the Islamic State project, but also for oppressing Islamist movements.

“In the Shadow of the 1967 War: Israel and the Palestinians”

By: Amal Jamal

Abstract: The 1967 war in the Middle East has had major ramifications on the entire region including Israel. This article focuses on three of the major longstanding ramifications, namely the change in the demographic balance between Jews and Palestinians west of the Jordan River, and the challenge that the military regime imposed on the Palestinians in the newly occupied Palestinian territories poses regarding the nature of the Israeli regime as a whole and the reconnecting of Palestinians and citizens of Israel, with their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This article demonstrates how Israeli policies towards Palestinians impacted the disposition of the Palestinian community inside Israel, and how the coming together of Israeli policy changes in the Palestinian struggle for independence and social transformations inside the Palestinian community in Israel have led to different adaptation strategies among the Palestinians to face their in-between reality.

“Syria – From the Six Day War to the Syrian Civil War”

By: Eyal Zisser

Abstract: The story of Syria during the Six-Day War is the story of a state whose leadership was young, inexperienced, reckless, and radical; it sowed fire and reaped a firestorm. For a while, the war seemed as a turning point in the history of Syria since it led to the rise of Hafiz al-Asad, who gave his country political stability that enabled him to turn it into a powerful and esteemed state at home and abroad.

Asad’s era was marked by freeze, stagnation, and the maintenance of the status quo which became the essence of the Syrian regime’s policies and course of action not only vis-à-vis Israel, but also in its activity domestically, whether in the social, political, or economic sphere. The ultimate result, as this article argues, was the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, which demonstrated that the appearance of stability and strength projected by the regime was a complete facade.

“From Cooperation to Normalization? Jordan–Israel Relations Since 1967”

By: Ronen Yitzhak

Abstract: This article deals with the relations between Jordan and Israel from 1967 until 2015. The mutual interest of the Hashemite regime and the Zionist movement, namely to oppose the Palestinians, created the first opportunity for cooperation, which developed into economic ties and intelligence exchanges during the reign of King Abdullah I. A real strategic alliance between Jordan and Israel was formed in the 1950s, when Egyptian President Gamal Abd al-Nasser, together with other nationalist Arab elements, tried to subvert King Hussein’s regime and topple him.

Israel unhesitatingly came to the side of the Hashemite ruler to protect Jordanian territorial sovereignty. This perception of Jordan informed Israel’s policy, which aimed to aid Jordan in confronting new challenges to the regime. The fact that Israel has stood by the Hashemite regime through most of its existence indicates a strategic partnership that will sustain, even if the peace treaty were to be revoked one day.

“The Gulf Arab States and Israel Since 1967: From ‘No Negotiation’ to Tacit Cooperation”

By: Uzi Rabi & Chelsi Mueller

Abstract: This article analyses the Gulf Arab states’ changing posture toward Israel since the June 1967 War. Fifty years on, the ‘three no’s’ of Khartoum have been replaced by the Saudi-coordinated Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel normalization in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Furthermore, the meaning of ‘normalization’ has been re-defined over the years in accordance with the changing geopolitical circumstances. Mutually beneficial ties between Israel and the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have grown up in proportion to their shared interests and shared threat perceptions. In the period from the 1967 War to the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, the Gulf Arab states, for the most part, boycotted Israel in line with pan-Arab requirements.

While Iranian propaganda during the Khomeini era (1979–1989) depicted Gulf Arab rulers as lackeys of Zionism and imperialism, GCC–Israel ties were anathema. In the 1990s, the GCC lent cautious support to the Israeli–Palestinian peace process, and two of its members, Oman and Qatar, expanded trade relations with Israel in defiance of Arab and Gulf norms.

The emergence of the Saudi–Iranian regional cold war, after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, gave rise to unprecedented levels of tacit security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“Revisiting the 1967 Arab-Israel War and Its Consequences for the Regional System”

By: Raymond Hinnebusch

Abstract: This paper examines the causes and consequences of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war utilizing Waltz’s three levels of analysis: system, state, and decision-makers. It first examines the causes, looking at why the M.E.N.A. regional system, but particularly the Arab-Israeli subsystem, was so war prone; assessing why a certain bellicosity was built into both Israel and several of its Arab neighbours; and examining the calculations and miscalculations by leaders on both sides that led to war. 1967 was a ‘war of vulnerability’ and miscalculation for Egypt but for Israel the war derived from a mix of vulnerability (from vulnerable borders) and opportunity (to acquire ‘defensible’ borders).

This paper then examines why the 1967 war did not lead to peace, but rather to a chain of new wars. Victory in 1967 reinforced Israel’s territorial ambitions; shifted the power balance decisively toward it; and ultimately shattered Arab unity against it; but because the imbalance in Israel’s favour was insufficient to impose a pro-Israeli peace, the result was new wars in which Arab states sought to reverse and Israel to reinforce the verdict of 1967.

“De-Centring Shiʿi Islam”

By: Morgan Clarke & Mirjam Künkler

Abstract: In the introduction to this special issue, we make the case for ‘de-centring’ the study of Shiʿi Islam conceptually, spatially, and sociologically. After first noting the essentialization of Shiʿi identity within the contemporary public sphere, we question its spatialization within the modern world of nation-states and area studies, and contrast the physical and human geography of Shiʿi Islam.

We then turn to the central theme of religious authority. Much of the study of modern Shiʿi Islam has (legitimately) focused on towering clerical figures and the institution of the marjaʿiyya, the summit of the religious hierarchy. We propose a number of ways in which this focus on the marjaʿiyya might be complicated, through attention to the diversity of forms it takes and the ways in which it is mediated.

We point to the need for more bottom-up studies of Shiʿi authority as a complement to the dominant approach of a top-down perspective, as well as greater attention to contexts where the importance of the marjaʿiyya recedes into the background. We also call for further study of the large part of the Shiʿi population to whom the path towards religious authority was long closed off: women.

“Divergent Processes of Localization in Twenty-First-Century Shiʿism: the Cases of Hezbollah Venezuela and Cambodia’s Cham Shiʿis”

By: Philipp Bruckmayr

Abstract: This contribution discusses two striking twenty-first-century cases of the global spread of Shiʿism beyond the Middle East, with a particular focus on accompanying processes of localization. On the arid Guajira Peninsula shared by Colombia and Venezuela, Teodoro Darnott, a self-declared liberator of an indigenous people, has framed Shiʿism as a revolutionary ideology that helps justify the Wayúu people’s struggle for self-determination.

In Cambodia, Shiʿism has recently entered a Muslim community in this predominantly Buddhist country on somewhat different terms. Here, its localization involved a re-emphasis on ancient traditions of the local Cham people that trace the spread of Islam among them to Imam ʿAli. It is precisely the vastly different contexts of the two cases that highlight that the localization of Shiʿism has, in these cases at least, paradoxically gone hand in hand with cultural revival and a quest for the preservation of local culture.

“Making a Centre in the Periphery: the Legitimation of Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah’s Beirut Marjaʿiyya”

By: Morgan Clarke & Mirjam Künkler

Abstract: Lebanon’s Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah (d.2010) enjoyed, in his later years, a high profile as a ‘source of emulation’ (marjaʿ al-taqlīd) for Twelver Shiʿa in Lebanon and beyond. That high profile stemmed in part from his close association with the Shiʿi Lebanese resistance to Israeli occupation, and Hizballah in particular, but also from his avowedly ‘open-minded’ (munfatiḥ) and frequently controversial Islamic legal positions. His supporters claimed that his independent, Beirut-based marjaʿiyya could be more relevant to the contemporary, cosmopolitan world than those of the traditional scholarly centres of Najaf and Qom.

His detractors, however, challenged the scholarly credentials of a man who had left the seminary (ḥawza) at a relatively young age. In the context of the interest of this special issue in ‘de-centring’ our approaches to Shiʿi Islam, he thus represents a valuable case study of how knowledge and authority can be constituted at the margins by one who seeks to challenge the tradition’s status quo, and in particular the hold of the contemporary ḥawza establishment as represented by the schools of Najaf and Qom. In this article I concentrate on his attempts to legitimize his scholarly authority in particular, vital to his claim to the marjaʿiyya.

“Shiʿi Preaching in West Africa: the Dakar Sermons of Lebanese Shaykh al-Zayn”

By: Mara A. Leichtman & Abdullah F. Alrebh

Abstract: While there has been much emphasis on new types of media for the dissemination of Islamic ideas, this article focuses on the conventional Friday khuṭba. Lebanese Shaykh al-Zayn was trained in Najaf, Iraq and was sent by Musa al-Sadr to serve the Lebanese diasporic business community in Senegal. Estranged from the religious politics of the homeland and traditional centres of Shiʿi learning, Lebanese in Senegal depended on Shaykh al-Zayn to teach them about Shiʿi Islam. The Islamic Social Institute he built was the first Shiʿi institution in all of West Africa.

Shaykh al-Zayn quickly gained a following of both Sunni and Shiʿi Muslims, Arabs as well as Africans. This article focuses on the shaykh’s discursive strategies for addressing his unique following. At times, his Friday sermons stressed the particularities of Shiʿi Islamic practice, but more often he highlighted a universal Islam in an effort to appeal to Senegal’s Sunni Muslim majority. In analysing khutbas given in 2003 during the beginning of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, we pay particular attention to the Lebanese shaykh’s engagement with global politics and how his messages were translated for a community in West Africa detached from the Middle East.

“Sub-Centres of Power in Shiʿi Islam: Women of ʿAlid descent in the Contemporary Near East”

By: Raffaele Mauriello

Abstract: A peculiar characteristic of the Islamic civilization is represented by the Prophet’s family (Ahl al-Bayt), whose history spans over 14 centuries and whose members have played at different times and places an important role in the Muslim world. The Prophet’s kinfolk are collectively known either as sādat (sing. sayyid) or as ashrāf (sing. sharīf). Within this kinfolk, the ‘Alids claim to descend from the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima and his cousin ‘Ali.

It has been argued that the ‘Alids represent a formidable example of the necessity to re-formulate the two categories of ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ in accordance with the distinctive features of the Islamic civilization. In this respect, Biancamaria Scarcia Amoretti has coined the terms centri dislocati (‘sub-centres’ or ‘centres in the periphery’) and centro deputato (‘designated centre’) to analyse the role of the ʿAlids as key actors in the dialectical dynamics that define the ‘centre’ and in initiating political, religious, and cultural movements or changes. This essay argues for the importance of including ‘Alid women in the human geography framework formulated by Scarcia Amoretti. The case study concerns women of a remarkable ʿAlid family of the Shiʿi religious establishment of the Near East, the al-Sadr.

“Challenging Transnational Shiʿi Authority in Baʿth Syria”

By: Edith Szanto

Abstract: From the early 1970s until 2011, the Syrian shrine town of Sayyida Zaynab flourished as a minor centre of Shiʿi learning. It predominantly served Iraqi Shiʿi refugees, but also temporary visitors from Iran and the Gulf countries. The seminaries viewed it as their responsibility to draw in transient Shiʿa and turn them into students and loyal followers of important marājiʿ al-taqlīd or Shiʿi legal scholars who mainly reside in major centres of Shiʿi learning, such as Najaf, Karbala and Qom. While the seminaries in Sayyida Zaynab aimed at strengthening institutional affiliation among lay Shiʿa, they concurrently aided the questioning of authoritative religious edicts and opinions emanating from Iranian and Iraqi centres of learning and produced local religious authorities.

This article examines two spheres in which central authority was challenged in the shrine town of Sayyida Zaynab. First, it was contested in seminaries where students and teachers debated legal rulings. Second, in contested public Muharram practices such as self-flagellation processions, and the showing and selling of recorded laṭmiyyāt, which are chants performed during ritual mourning gatherings

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (Volume 80, Issue 3)

 

“The Arabic of the Islamic Conquests: Notes on Phonology and Morphology Based on the Greek Transcriptions from the First Islamic Century”

By: Ahmad Al-Jallad

Abstract: This paper attempts to reconstruct aspects of the phonology and morphology of the Arabic of the Islamic conquests on the basis of Greek transcriptions in papyri of the first Islamic century. The discussion includes phonemic and allophonic variation in consonants and vowels, and nominal morphology. The essay concludes with a discussion on possible Aramaic and South Arabian influences in the material, followed by a short appendix with remarks on select Arabic terms from the pre-Islamic papyri.

“Why Was the Dome of the Rock Built? A New Perspective on a Long-Discussed Question”

By: Milka Levy-Rubin

Abstract: The existing discussion regarding the motives for building the Dome of the Rock revolves around two suggestions: that the incentive for building was the fierce competition between ʿAbd al-Malik and ʿAbdallah b. al-Zubayr in Mecca, and that it was competition with local Christian monuments that moved ʿAbd al-Malik to building this outstanding edifice. This paper suggests that a third incentive lay in the political and ideological rivalry with Constantinople, which was at its peak during that period. This rivalry drove ʿAbd al-Malik to build a monument that would outdo those of Constantinople, and especially that of the Hagia Sophia. Muslim tradition emphasized that Constantinople had contaminated the site of the Temple and had claimed to inherit its place as God’s throne on earth. The building of the Dome of the Rock, the New Temple of Solomon, was thus meant to redeem the Temple of Jerusalem’s honour as of old against the claims of Constantinople.

“Identification of a Small Fragment of Mani’s Living Gospel (Turfan Collection, Berlin, M5439)”

By: Mohammad Shokri-Foumeshi

Abstract: Heretofore three fragments of Maniʼs Living Gospel – the most important work of Mani – have been recognized in Middle Persian and in Manichaean script: M17, M172/I/ and M644. This article, with a codicological and textological approach, shows that M17 and the new fragment M5439 are two separate pieces of a single manuscript page. The verso-side of M5439 has a new text. Now, after the identification and reading of this damaged fragment, we are able to correct the previous reconstructions and comment on a few Middle Persian words. The text contains a part of the exordium and of the chapter Aleph of the Living Gospel.

“Two Iranian Loanwords in Syriac”

By: Nicholas Sims-Williams

Abstract: This article discusses two Syriac words which have been understood in many different ways by both ancient and modern scholars. The translations and etymologies previously proposed are evaluated and new explanations are offered, according to which both words, sāsgaunā “red” and syānqā “hemi-drachm”, are loanwords from Middle Persian, though unattested in that language.

 

Comparative Studies in Society and History (Volume 59, Issue 4 & Volume 60, Issue 1)

 

“Written and Oral in Islamic Law: Documentary Evidence and Non-Muslims in Moroccan Shari‘a Courts”

By: Jessica M. Marglin

Abstract: This article begins from the premise that the margins can shine light on the center, and uses the experience of Jews (thought of as marginal in the Islamic world) in Moroccan courts (similarly thought of as marginal in Islamic history) to tell a new story about orality and writing in Islamic law. Using archival evidence from nineteenth-century Morocco, this article argues that, contrary to the prevailing historiography, written evidence was central to procedure in Moroccan shari‘a courts. Records of nineteenth-century lawsuits between Jews and Muslims show that not only were notarized documents regularly submitted in court, but they could outweigh oral testimony, traditionally thought of as the gold standard of evidence in Islam.

The evidentiary practices of Moroccan shari‘a courts are supported by the jurisprudential literature of the Mālikī school of Sunni Islam, the only one prevalent in Morocco. These findings have particular relevance for the experience of non-Muslims in Islamic legal institutions. Scholars have generally assumed that Jews and Christians faced serious restrictions in their ability to present evidence in shari‘a courts, since they could not testify orally against Muslims. However, in Morocco Jews had equal access to notarized documents, and thus stood on a playing field that, theoretically at least, was level with their Muslim neighbors.

More broadly, this article explores ways in which old assumptions about the relationship of the written to the oral continue to pervade our understanding of Islamic law, and call for an approach that breaks down the dichotomy between writing and orality.

“Alternative Muslim Modernities: Bosnian Intellectuals in the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires”

By: Leyla Amzi-Erdogdular

Abstract: The Habsburg takeover of Ottoman Bosnia Herzegovina (1878–1918) is conventionally considered the entry of this province into the European realm and the onset of its modernization. Treating the transition from one empire to another not as a radical break, but in many respects continuity, reveals that the imperial context provided for the existence of overlapping affiliations that shaped the means by which modernity was mediated and embodied in the local experience. Drawing on Bosnian and Ottoman sources, this article analyzes Bosnian intellectuals’ conceptions of their particular Muslim modernity in a European context. It comparatively evaluates the ways in which they integrated the modernist discourse that developed in the Ottoman Empire and the broader Muslim world, and how they also contributed to that discourse. I show that their concern with modernity was not abstract but rather focused on concrete solutions that the Muslim modernists developed to challenges in transforming their societies. I argue that we must incorporate Islamic intellectual history, and cross-regional exchanges within it, to understand southeastern Europe’s past and present, and that studies of Europe and the Middle East need to look beyond geohistorical and disciplinary divisions.

“’Essential Collaborators’: Locating Middle Eastern Geneticists in the Global Scientific Infrastructure, 1950s–1970s”

By: Elise K. Burton

Abstract: In the aftermath of World War II, a new international infrastructure based on United Nations agencies took charge of coordinating global biomedical research. Through this infrastructure, European and American geneticists hoped to collect and test blood samples from human populations across the world to understand processes of human heredity and evolution, and trace the historical migrations of different groups. They relied heavily on local scientific workers to help them identify and access populations of interest, although they did not always acknowledge the critical role non-Western collaborators played in their studies.

Using scientific publications, personal correspondence, and oral histories, I investigate the collaborative relationships between Western scientists, their counterparts in the Middle East, and the human subjects of genetic research. I comparatively examine the experiences of Israeli and Iranian scientists and physicians engaged in genetic anthropology and medical genetics between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s, noting how they both applied nationalist historical narratives to their genetic data and struggled to establish the value of their local knowledge and scientific labor. I

argue that the Israeli and Iranian experience of transnational scientific collaboration is representative of how Western scientists relegated their collaborators from “developing” regions to a subordinate positionality as collection agents or native informants. Meanwhile, within their own countries, the elite professional identity of Israeli and Iranian scientists granted them the authority to manipulate their research subjects, who often belonged to marginalized minority communities, and to interpret their biology and history within contexts of Jewish and Persian nationalism.

“Levantine Joint-Stock Companies, Trans-Mediterranean Partnerships, and Nineteenth-Century Capitalist Development”

By: Kristen Alff

Abstract: The Levantine business community—the Sursuqs, Bustruses, Tuenis, Khuris, Debbases, Trads, Tabets, Naggiars, and Farahs—created large agricultural estates in the Levant and established company branches in Beirut, Alexandria, Haifa, London, Liverpool, Paris, and Marseille in the mid-nineteenth century. Against both culturalist and new institutional paradigms, I argue that the trajectories of the Levantine firms were much like those of their European counterparts; Dutch and English capitalism—what came to be recognized as modern forms of capitalism—developed out of long-distance trade and relied on forms of coerced and semi-coerced labor as well as other so-called “non-capitalist” or “precapitalist” elements. Beirut-based companies relied on tenant contracts, sharecropping, and other forms of labor control rooted in the Ottoman social formation.

Drawing upon the unexplored private papers of these business families in Beirut and a diverse collection of documents from Istanbul, Beirut, Jerusalem, London, Liverpool, and Marseille in Arabic, German, Ottoman Turkish, and French, this paper examines the parallels and the links between the business practices of the Levantine joint-stock companies and their European partners. It contends that the development of nineteenth-century capitalism relied on several different institutions and relations of production formulated and articulated on both sides of the Mediterranean and in the competition between them. Only after World War I, because of settler-colonialism, the settlement of nomads, and large-scale European capital investment backed by imperial power, did Levantine capital accumulation begin to take a form that was subordinate to Europe.

Contemporary Arab Affairs (Volume 10, Issue 4)

 

“Reforms in Morocco: Monitoring the Orbit and Reading the Trajectory”

By: Mohamad al-Akhssassi

Abstract: Since 2011, Morocco has been undergoing a series of political, constitutional and institutional reforms, including the issue of rights. These reforms were a response to the February 20 movement that emerged against the background of the Arab Spring. Prompted by this movement and its nationwide protests, the King of Morocco delivered a speech in March 2011 on reform and modernization, resulting in the rapid drafting and adoption of a new Moroccan constitution in June 2011. After a referendum on the constitutional reforms in July 2011, parliamentary elections were held in which a coalition government led by the Justice and Development Party (JDP) came to power. This paper analyzes the context of the 2011 constitution and assesses the trajectory of the constitutional reforms up to 2015.

“The Current Status of Corruption in Egypt”

By: Ahmed Alaa Fayed

Abstract: Given that corruption was one of the primary reasons that pushed the Egyptian masses to rally in 2011, it is important to look at its current status to see whether the levels of corruption have increased, decreased, or remained the same since. This paper overviews the current status of corruption in Egypt according to different national and international perception indices. In an attempt to explain why corruption remains prevalent in Egypt, it looks at the different anticorruption efforts accomplished by the state and non-governmental organizations after 2011.

“Beyond Rentierism: the United Arab Emirates’ Exceptionalism in a Turbulent Region”

By: Osman Antwi-Boateng & Mohammed Binhuwaidin

Abstract: The Arab-Muslim world is often described negatively as undemocratic, intolerant and economically backward. Rare positive commentary about the region is usually reserved for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, based on the belief that their status as rentier states coupled with immense energy resources has enabled them to escape the failures of the larger region. However, this research posits to a United Arab Emirates (UAE) exceptionalism attributed to its internalization of key political, economic, and social norms, and the promotion of such norms as a norm entrepreneur. The attractiveness of the UAE’s accomplishments in the region has made it worthy of emulation and, thus, a soft power.

“Urban Political Culture in the Arab World: the Relationship Between Orientation Towards Democracy and Political Protest”

By: Ben Ahmed Hougua

Abstract: The main hypothesis of this study is based on a causal relation between certain forms of emerging political culture in urban ecology, among the dissatisfied democrats, and the political protest in Arab capitals. This paper’s hypothesis is based on an implicit implication that the modernization factors provided by the capitals’ urban ecology contribute to cultural transformations in emerging generations. These transformations are determined by the adoption of modern value systems represented by independence, self-expression and freedom.

The demographic succession of generations – in addition to the transformations of economic and cultural conditions of socialization within the urban ecology – contributes to the deep and slow transition, and at the same time, to new forms of meanings where modernity plays a significant role in their formulation. Therefore, it is expected that these transformations will take a more visible shape among the young and educated social groups, as they are the most exposed to waves of modernization.

This paper studies the relationship between emerging political culture in Arab capitals and the engagement in political protest. It uses statistical analysis to see if there are substantial differences between the dissatisfied cultural trends and the allegiant trends, in light of demographic, value, moral and political variables. The methodology used is based on a synthesis between the authoritarian/democratic trends and self-esteem for institutional achievement (confidence in democratic political institutions such as parliament and government).

“The Hamas Movement and Its Political and Democratic Practice, 1992–2016”

By: Aqel Mohammed Ahmed Salah

Abstract: The concept of a political opportunity structure contributes to the analysis of the behaviour of political actors and is one of the current central topics that has importance for political systems at the regional and international levels, as well as for political and social scientific research centres. This study falls within the range of studies on ideological movements and political parties, and the political variables that affect the political system and these movements which lead them to adapt their ideology, by changing their position – from one of rejection to one of acceptance – with regard to participation in parliamentary elections. To achieve their aim of getting into power, ideological movements and political parties can adapt to political changes, influence the structure of political opportunities, and exploit ones available to them. This study focuses on the analysis of factors that led to the change in the position of Hamas with regard to democratic practice, from boycotting the first parliamentary elections in 1996 to actively participating in the 2006 elections. It discusses a number of factors: first, the internal organizational factors of the movement; second, the political variables in the Palestinian arena; and third, the internal factors related to the ruling party (Fatah). In light of this, the study principally aims at providing an objective view on the position of Hamas with regard to its political and democratic practice prior to its participation in the Palestinian political system and beyond, using the concept of political opportunities structure. Given that the movement was restricted by its ideology and governed by the political changes that had taken place in the Palestinian political system, it was forced to adapt to the new circumstances that followed the Oslo Treaty by changing its position from opposition and rejection, to political participation.

“The Political Economy of China–Arab Relations: Challenges and Opportunities”

By: Mohamed Hamchi

Abstract: Steady development of China–Arab economic relations has been taking place in a turbulent international environment, especially at political and economic levels. In such a context, this study shifts the attention towards approaching China–Arab economic relations from the perspective of international political economy. It is divided into three sections. The first provides a brief historical introduction to the relations between China and the Arab world. The second examines some of the main challenges that face China–Arab economic relations. The third explores the opportunities in which both parties should invest in order to reach the level of strategic partnership. The study approaches the subject from the perspective of international political economy and concludes with a discussion on how the political can play an incentive role for China–Arab economic relations.

“The Rise of China: Beijing’s Core Interests and Possible Arab Repercussions”

By: Nasser Al-Tamimi

Abstract: China is currently considered to be the world’s largest purchasing power economy, and is the second after the United States by market value- and is expected to become the largest by the end of the next decade. Previous data have shown that the concept of ‘core interests’ from the Chinese point of view may be included with the development of China’s economic and military capabilities. This concept will certainly expand as China grows into a superpower to cover many parts of the world.

With China increasingly dependent on energy imports, the Middle East and Africa and the Maritime Silk Road are expected to become a vital priority for the emerging nation in the future. In the light of this strategic background, this paper attempts to define the concept of ‘core interests’ from the Chinese point of view, and to monitor the most important stages of its application within Beijing’s external trends, highlighting the issues of Chinese policy, especially in East Asia. In the context of expanding China’s global interests, this paper argues that China’s influence in the Middle East will increase, and may be followed by an increased political and military presence, highlighting evidence and a number of trends that support this view.

 

Global Change, Peace & Security (Volume 29, Issue 3)

 

“Building Sovereigns? The UN Peacekeeping and Strengthening the Authority of the State in Lebanon and Mali”

By: Jan Daniel

Abstract: This paper contributes to the debate on the recent ‘stabilization turn’ in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping by inquiring into a changing a set of practices by which the UN intends to ‘strengthen the authority of the state.’ Drawing on Piiparinen’s notion of sovereignty-building as an emerging paradigm of conflict management, the study analyses the support for state authority and sovereignty in two modalities of contemporary UN peace operations – UNIFIL II and MINUSMA. While the two analysed missions significantly differ when it comes to the extent of their tasks, or the rules for the use of force, they both highlight the importance of local politics and agency in the implementations of their mandates and the need to strike a compromise between the contending visions on what form of sovereignty should be supported. By doing so, the paper points out the importance of ‘local’ and contextual emergence of the practices of sovereignty-building.

“Responsibility to Protect, NATO and the Problem of Who Should Intervene: Reassessing the Intervention in Libya”

By: Andrea Carati

Abstract: One of the most challenging issues concerning the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is ‘who should intervene’ in case of gross violations of human rights. After the intervention in Kosovo in 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been increasingly considered a legitimate actor to fulfil the duty to intervene for humanitarian reasons. In 2011, the first military intervention inspired by the R2P in Libya reinforced the appreciation of NATO as a viable enforcer of the doctrine.

The paper problematizes the idea that NATO could be a straightforward solution to the problem of who should intervene. NATO’s constitutive nature comprises aspects that are at odds with R2P as a normative scheme. In this regard, the paper delves into three aspects: (a) the controversial issue of ‘delegated authority’ from the UN to NATO; (b) the tension between the universalistic character of the R2P and the particularistic nature of NATO; (c) the military nature of the alliance and its consequent focus on security/military considerations that rarely, or just occasionally, match with humanitarian concerns. Finally, the paper analyses the intervention in Libya assessing the incongruities between NATO’s military operations and the normative framework of R2P.

 

International Journal of Middle East Studies (Volume 49, Issue 4)

 

“The Ottoman Quagmire: Malaria, Swamps, and Settlement in the Late Ottoman Mediterranean”

By: Chris Gratien

Abstract: During the late Ottoman period, a large influx of migrants and the expansion of cultivation created opportunities for new settlements in the countryside of Anatolia, Greater Syria, and Iraq. However, settlement often brought misery to newcomers in the form of malaria, especially when it occurred in the lowlands of the Mediterranean. This article traces the contours of the encounter with malaria that arose out of settlement, offering an overview of how the Ottoman state and society confronted the conundrum of the swamp and examining the impact of this confrontation on local political economies. It demonstrates that swamps and malaria were a significant concern for late Ottoman state and society, and that policies adopted to address malaria sometimes facilitated the creation of large estates in the countryside of the Mediterranean littoral.

“Circassian Refugees and the Making of Amman, 1878-1914”

By: Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky

Abstract: In the final decades of Ottoman rule, several waves of refugees from the Russian Empire’s North Caucasus region immigrated to Transjordan, where they founded Amman and other agricultural villages. This article examines the economy of Amman in its formative years as a Circassian refugee settlement. By exploring connections between North Caucasian refugees, Syrian and Palestinian merchants, and Transjordanian urban and nomadic communities, this study posits refugees as drivers of economic expansion in the late Ottoman period.

It argues that the settlement of North Caucasian refugees and their active participation in the real estate market in and around Amman contributed to the entrenchment of the post-1858 property regime in Ottoman Transjordan. Through a study of an upper-class Circassian household and its legal battles, this article also illustrates the rise of refugee elites who benefited from the commodification of land and the construction of state-sponsored infrastructure in the late Ottoman Levant.

“Refugees and the Case for International Authority in the Middle East: The League of Nations and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East Compared”

By: Laura Robson

Abstract: In the immediate aftermath of World War I, the newly formed League of Nations saw Middle Eastern refugees—particularly displaced Armenians and Assyrians scattered in camps across the Eastern Mediterranean—as venues for working out new forms of internationalism. In the late 1940s, following the British abandonment of the Palestine Mandate and the subsequent Zionist expulsion of most of the Palestinian Arab population, the new United Nations revived this concept of a refugee crisis requiring international intervention. This paper examines the parallel ways in which advocates for both the nascent League of Nations and the United Nations made use of mass refugee flows to formulate arguments for new, highly visible, and essentially permanent iterations of international authority across the Middle East.

“Middle East Encounters 69 Degrees North Latitude: Syrian Refugees and Everyday Humanitarianism in the Arctic”

By: Nefissa Naguib

Abstract: In late 2015, approximately 2,000 Syrian asylum seekers made their way into Norway via the Arctic passage from Russia. What ensued are “global moments,” breakthrough events that have reshaped lives and futures for both the refugees and those who aided them, and it is the latter group on which this article focuses. As refugees began arriving in Arctic Norway, Refugees Welcome to the Arctic, an ad hoc grassroots organization, was formed to assist them. This group of ordinary people, most of whom had no previous humanitarian experience, took action in defiance of Norwegian government policies, and providing food became the focus of their efforts.

Refugees Welcome to the Arctic members often described being motived to act by their own traumatic memories of the region’s experience of World War II, a time of deprivation and brutality suffered at the hands of the retreating German army. Food, as an enactment of compassion, is shown to be a powerful means through which people connect in very personal, concrete ways to the humanitarian enterprise.

“Whose Misafirs? Negotiating Difference Along the Turkish-Syrian Border”

By: Seçil Dağtaş

Abstract: This article examines the figure of the misafir (guest) as it personifies the combined domains of everyday and institutional hospitality in Hatay, a contested border province annexed to Turkey from French Mandate Syria in 1939, and home today to over 400,000 displaced Syrians. Based on fieldwork conducted between 2010 and 2012 in Hatay’s administrative capital, Antakya, this articla focuses on the perspectives of the region’s bilingual (Turkish-Arabic) Jewish and Christian populations, and about the official misafir status of the first Syrian arrivals.

It argues that the sudden transformation of Syrians from familial misafirs to governmental misafirs in the early days of the Syrian conflict ruptured the hierarchical domains of reciprocity that have historically shaped the cross-border relations between these communities. In this process, Antakya’s religious minorities recognized and negotiated the limits of their own residence, difference, and citizenship in Turkey, and invoked the living practices of hospitality that exist beside- but also transcend- ethnoreligious and national identities. By examining how historical articulations of religious and national difference along the Turkish–Syrian border are entwined with the figure of the misafir at the interpersonal level, this article contributes to debates on hospitality in scholarship on the Middle East and in migration literature.

“Governance Strategies and Refugee Response: Lebanon in the Face of Syrian Displacement”

By: Tamirace Fakhoury

Abstract: This article discusses how the Lebanese state has responded to displacement from Syria (2011–17), and how the resulting policy formulation processes and discourses have constructed the relationship between the hosting state and the refugee. It focuses especially on how this small state has negotiated its politics of reception and choice of policy tools amid dysfunctional institutions and political disputes. To this end, it uses the lens of Lebanon’s model of sectarian power sharing to understand the polity’s response to mass displacement.

This process has been structured by the defining dynamics of the country’s politics of sectarianism: slack governance, an elite fractured model, and a politics of dependence on external and domestic nonstate actors. The Lebanese model offers broader insights into types of coping mechanisms that emerge in the context of forced migration, notably when a formal refugee regime is absent. The article contends that states lacking a legal asylum framework and grappling with various governance hurdles are likely to draw on the repertoire of their political regime to deal with displacement.

“’People Eat People’: The Influence of Socioeconomic Conditions on Experiences of Displacement in Jordan”

By: Giulia El Dardiry

Abstract: This article explores the ways in which refugee and host experiences of displacement in Jordan between 2010 and 2013 were articulated in a socioeconomic register that coincided with, but was also independent of, both state bio-power and historical cross-border regionalisms. It argues that this register became salient due to a shared understanding of everyday life as characterized by what it terms hunger, a state of depredation where “people eat people” to attain their own well-being.

In pursuing this argument, the article has two goals: to show how Iraqis and Jordanians negotiated the complexities of living together in hunger by censuring individuals—locals and foreigners, rich and poor—who contributed to producing hunger rather than to alleviating it, and by consciously resisting the corrosive effects of hunger on social relations; and, more generally, to challenge universalizing understandings of refugee experiences according to which local tensions between refugees and hosts are derivative of a globalized antiforeigner discourse.

International Relations (Volume 31, Issue 4)

 

“Writing the World Into Counter-Hegemony: Identity, Power, and ‘Foreign Policy’ in Ethnic Movements”

By: Ali Balci

Abstract: This article is an attempt to develop a theoretical framework about how to study dissident ethnic movements’ foreign policies. Is it possible to speak about foreign policies of ethnic dissident movements, especially when it is considered that they have no characteristics of modern sovereignty such as territory and recognition? For example, do the Berbers in Morocco, the Catalans in Spain, the Balochs in Iran, and the Kurds in Turkey have a foreign policy? If they do, how do we study their policies toward the outside world? Specifically, focusing on the case of the Kurds in Turkey, this article attempts to provide a theoretical framework for how to study dissident ethnic movements’ foreign policy performances. By looking at the effect of the end of the Cold War on the Kurdish nationalists’ imagination of the United States, this article interrogates how the change in their imagination played a role in the construction and reconstruction of the post-1980 Kurdish identity in Turkey. It also draws on the work of poststructural and postcolonial Ernesto Laclau, David Campell, and Edward W. Said in order to develop the theoretical framework.

“Rhetorical Entrapment and the Politics of Alliance Cooperation: Explaining Divergent Outcomes in Japan and South Korea During the Iraq War”

By: Seo-Hyun Park

Abstract: This article is about rhetorical framing and its effects on foreign policy outcomes – specifically in intra-alliance relations. It argues that leaders’ attempts to change the framing of existing security concepts alter the context – and cost – of alliance cooperation. In particular, it highlights the mechanism of rhetorical entrapment as the causal link between initial rhetorical action and the changed context of alliance cooperation. While previous studies of rhetorical entrapment have focused on individual-level reputational costs – such as moral shaming or political backlash when hypocrisy is exposed – this article focuses on the socially constructed nature of political rhetoric and the consequences of language use.

That is, it explores why leaders are compelled to choose certain security rhetoric in the first place and how social resonance and audience receptivity can present unintended political constraints and hidden costs. In this way, the findings from this article contribute to two separate bodies of work in the field of International Relations that have yet to be examined closely in tandem: the role of foreign policy rhetoric employed by leaders as part of their political legitimate strategies, and the domestic politics of alliance cooperation. Through comparative case studies of Japan and South Korea prior to and during the early stages of the Iraq War, this article demonstrate the role of rhetorical entrapment in explaining the politics of alliance cooperation.

 

Iranian Studies (Volume 51, Issues 1 & 2)

 

“The Many Deaths of Cyrus the Great”

By: Daniel Beckman

Abstract: This article uses narratives of the death of Cyrus the Great as a test case in order to examine the use of propaganda in the Achaemenid empire. By comparing the accounts found in Herodotus, Ctesias, and Xenophon, it is shown that these Greek historians have captured propagandistic messages created in the courts of contemporary Achaemenid kings. While the Greek works were very much the product of their authors’ literary imagination, nevertheless they preserved substantial evidence about the role of propaganda during the Achaemenid period.

“Rhetoric, Narrative, and the Remembrance of Death in ʿAttār’s Mosibat-nāmeh”

By: Austin Michael O’Malley

Abstract: This paper examines the anecdotes of ʿAttār’s Mosibat-nāmeh as temporal phenomena from the perspective of a reader moving progressively through the text; it is argued that that these anecdotes do not function primarily as carriers of dogmatic information, but as dynamic rhetorical performances designed to prod their audiences into recommitting to a pious mode of life. First, the article shows how the poem’s frame-tale influences a reader’s experience of the embedded anecdotes by encouraging a sequential mode of consumption and contextualizing the work’s pedagogical aims.

Next, it demonstrates that these anecdotes are bound together through formulae and lexical triggers, producing a paratactic structure reminiscent of oral homiletics. Individual anecdotes aim to unsettle readers’ ossified religious understandings, and together they offer a flexible set of heuristics for pious living. Finally, it is argued that ʿAttār’s intended readers were likely familiar with the mystical principles that underlie his poems; he therefore did not use narratives to provide completely new teachings, but rather to persuade his audience to more fully embody those pious principles to which they were already committed.

“Signs from Above: Towards a Comparative Symbology of Bird Imagery in Medieval Near Eastern Popular Prose”

By: Rachel Schine

Abstract: This article presents excerpts from two near-contemporary works of popular prose from the medieval Near East: the Persian Dārāb-nāmeh and the Arabic Sīrat Banī Hilāl. In each, birds or birdlike characters (the sīmorgh and the crow, respectively) that share in having had theriomorphic, mythic significance in regional pre-Islamic traditions, dispense premonitory wisdom to Muslim characters.

Comparing these passages, the article contends that the characterization of these birds brokers a pietistic shift in symbolism between the pre-Islamic and Islamic context, while still maintaining the birds’ mystical significance and sustaining the trope of birds as winged, heaven-sent messengers. This modified association between birds and divine ministry is not only prominent in these two texts, but also in the Qurʾān and varied bestiaries, poetry, and belletristic works that comprise these texts’ cultural network.

“Daryā-ye Nur: History and Myth of a Crown Jewel of Iran”

By: Anna Malecka

Abstract: One of the most exceptional among the world renowned historical treasures is the repository of valuables of the olden shahs of Persia found in the Jewels Museum in Tehran. The outstanding jewel among those kept there is the diamond called Daryā-ye Nur, weighing about 182 carats. The history of this stone, according to the literature on the subject, starts in seventeenth century India, in the city of Golconda. Analysis of primary sources, however, allows for the supposition that this stone may have a longer history.

“Middle Class Urbanism: The Socio-Spatial Transformation of Tehran, 1921–41”

By: Ashkan Rezvani-Naraghi

Abstract: Most of the available literature on Tehran between the two world wars deals with the morphological transformation of the city and the role of the Pahlavi state in accomplishing massive urban projects. In contrast, this article focuses on the reciprocal relationship between the sociality and spatiality of the city. It demonstrates how the consolidation of the discourse of modernity resulted in the development of social and political desires for the production of new forms of social life and spaces.

The article argues that the formation of the modern middle class and its alignment with the Pahlavi state’s reform projects contributed to a twofold process: first, the decline of the traditional forms of social life and spaces and, second, the production and prevalence of alternative forms. This process resulted in the establishment of social dichotomies with vast spatial manifestations, and polarized the city both socially and spatially.

“’Where Do I Go without Money?’: Reza Shah’s Finances in Exile”

By: Shaul Bakhash

Abstract: When Reza Shah died in exile in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July 1944, he left in his account at Barclays Bank a deposit of £110,000 (a considerable amount of money). Yet when he went into exile only three years earlier, Reza Shah feared he would be hard-pressed for money, if not left altogether destitute—and with good reason. He left Iran with a “horde” of progeny, family members, and retainers. Before departing, he had ceded all his enormous wealth in cash and property to his son and successor. He did not remain destitute for long. His son, the new shah, continued to send him money, and for a while, the British paid for a major part of his upkeep. Yet his money anxieties did not cease. This article describes and follows the winding trail of Reza Shah’s finances in exile.

“Race and the Aesthetics of Alterity in Mahshid Amirshahi’s Dadeh Qadam-Kheyr”

By: Amirhossein Vafa

Abstract: Focusing on black women Qadam-Kheyr and Sorur in Mahshid Amirshahi’s novel Dadeh Qadam-Kheyr (1999), this article examines literary representations of the African-Iranian presence, and provides a critique of race and slavery in twentieth-century Iran. In light of the history of the Iranian slave trade until 1928, and the reconstruction of race and gender identities along Eurocentric lines of nationalism in Iran, the novel, under scrutiny, is a dynamic site of struggle between an “Iranian” literary discourse and its “non-Persian” others. The “aesthetics of alterity” at the heart of the text is, therefore, the interplay between the repressed title-character Qadam-Kheyr and the resilient minor character Sorur, each registering Amirshahi’s artistic intervention into a forgotten corner of Iranian history.

“Mesopotamian or Iranian? A New Investigation on the Origin of the Goddess Anāhitā”

By: Alireza Qaderi

Abstract: Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā, a popular Zoroastrian yazatā, is celebrated in Yašt 5 (Ābān Yašt). Anāhitā is mostly believed to be an Indo-Iranian or Iranian deity who has absorbed influences from the creed and iconography of Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess, in the course of history. The type and the degree of such influences are still under debate. The paper places this goddess into the context of ancient Western Asia.

Findings are presented in two sections: in the first section, the Indo-Iranian, Iranian, and western Iranian origins of Anāhitā are questioned, and in the following section two points are clarified: first, the Mesopotamian origin for Anāhitā is more consistent with historical and archaeological evidence, and second, Anāhitā is the same as Annunit/Annunitum, Sippar—Amnamum’s goddess of war and victory and the avatar of Antu, who was added to the list of his royal patron deities as a result of political and military developments early in the reign of Artaxerxes II.

“Remnants of Zoroastrian Dari in the Colophons and Sālmargs of Iranian Avestan Manuscripts”

By: Saloumeh Gholami

Abstract: Zoroastrian Dari, also known as Behdini or Gavruni, is an endangered Iranian language spoken by the Zoroastrian minority who mostly live in Yazd and the surrounding areas, as well as in Kerman and Tehran. Zoroastrian Dari is a unique Iranian language on account of its historical background and large number of subdialects. This language is only a spoken language and not a written one, but it seems that remnants of this language are attested in the Avestan manuscripts, particularly in the colophons. This paper provides a study of the existence of Zoroastrian Dari in the personal names in the colophons and Sālmargs of the Avestan manuscripts.

“Satire in the Paintings of ‘Mohammad-e Siāh Qalam’”

By: James White

Abstract: A considerable amount of scholarship has been produced on just over sixty paintings of humans and demons, many of which bear ascriptions to the unidentified artist Mohammad-e Siāh Qalam, and which are now mostly housed in albums H.2153 and H.2160 in the Topkapı Palace Library. Although methods of formal comparison have led to general agreement that the paintings can be dated to either the fourteenth century or the fifteenth, strikingly little attention has been paid to the question of what these images depict.

This paper studies the paintings within the context of documentary, legal, and literary material in Persian and Arabic, and identifies a set of common motifs shared between the Siāh Qalam paintings and a number of later images. While it has been supposed by several scholars that the paintings document life in a marginal geographical environment and faithfully reflect the practices of a syncretic culture, this paper suggests that they engage with a field of satirical ideas which were widespread in the Islamic world in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and which parodied common types of behavior that were deemed by some observers to be illicit or absurd.

“The Iranian Community of the Late Ottoman Empire and the Egyptian ‘Crisis’ through the Persian Looking Glass: The Documentation of the ʿUrabi Revolt in Istanbul’s Akhtar”

By: Tanya Elal Lawrence

Abstract: This article focuses on the coverage of the ʿUrabi rebellion of 1881–82 in the Istanbul-based Persian-language newspaper Akhtar. Akhtar was the first periodical to be published in Persian outside the auspices of the Qajar state, and first appeared on 13 January 1876, from the press owned by Mohammad Tāher Tabrizi in the Valide Han in the Ottoman capital. The objective of this article is twofold. First, it aims to interweave the history of the Persian-language publication Akhtar with broader questions of how the Hamidian state strove to situate itself within a changing international order in a bid to affirm its legitimacy and sovereignty.

It then proceeds to examine the ideological leanings of Akhtar set against the complex background of censorship laws implemented by the Hamidian state (1876–1908). To this end, by scrutinizing the reportage of this one specific event—the Egyptian crisis of 1881–82—it attempts to shed light on how the editors of Akhtar successfully maintained the delicate equilibrium of appeasing both its patrons, namely, the Hamidian state and its readership across the region where Persian was spoken. Thus, the article seeks also to highlight the ways in which inter-imperial dynamics lie at the heart of the history of this “Persian” publication.

“Performance Traditions of Kurdistan: Towards a More Comprehensive Theatre History”

By: Mahroo Rashidirostami

Abstract: This study addresses the gap in the contemporary scholarship on Kurdish oral and performative culture by, for the first time, presenting a review of some of the performance traditions in Kurdistan. By describing these traditions, the article demonstrates that performance has for centuries comprised a vital and meaningful element of Kurdish cultural life. Further, it shows that a more inclusive approach to writing theatre histories enhances understanding of Middle Eastern and, in particular, Iranian performance culture—for the Kurds, as an Iranian people and the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, play an intrinsic part in the culture of the region. All combined, this comprehension fosters a deeper appreciation and fuller picture of Middle Eastern theatre in general, and Iranian theatre in particular.

“Reading Iran: American Academics and the Last Shah”

By: Matthew K. Shannon

Abstract: Despite the nature of American influence in postwar Iran, and despite the fact that Iranian studies has grown into a flourishing field in the United States, scholars have not explored the field’s origins during the Cold War era. This article begins with the life of T. Cuyler Young to trace the critical genealogy within the field as it developed, in cooperation between American and Iranian scholars, during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. It proceeds to analyze two cohorts of American scholars whose political inclinations ranged from liberal reformism to revolutionary Marxism.

As revolutionary momentum swelled in Iran in the late 1970s, critical scholars broke through superpower dogmas and envisioned a post-shah Iran. However, Cold War teleologies prevented them from fully grasping Iranian realities, particularly Khomeini’s vision for Iran. This article argues that the modern field of Iranian studies in the United States was shaped by multiple generations of critical voices, all of which were informed by historically situated encounters with Iran, and expressed through a range of methodological and theoretical perspectives.

 

Israel Studies (Volume 22, Issue 3)

“Diversity Within a Show of Unity: Commemorating the Balfour Declaration in Israel (1917–2017)”

By: Elie Podeh

Abstract: The article analyzes the way in which Jewish and Israeli institutions commemorated the Balfour Declaration from its inception to the 100th anniversary in 2017 with particular emphasis on the 1967 Jubilee celebrations. In contrast to the government’s desire to use the event as a vehicle to strengthen the state’s legitimacy and validate the hegemony of the Labor-oriented Zionist leadership, the event reflected political and ideological fragmentation.

“The Purifying Effect of Truth: Jabotinsky’s Interpretation of the Balfour Declaration”

By: Arye Naor

Abstract: Ze’ev Jabotinsky viewed the Balfour Declaration as a commitment to establish the Jewish State in Mandatory Palestine. He believed that public and diplomatic pressure on decision-makers and opinion leaders in Britain could cause that commitment to be fulfilled, either as an independent state or as a dominion within the framework of the British Commonwealth. Personally, he favored the latter. Even as the conflict of interests between Zionism and Britain became increasingly apparent, Jabotinsky maintained his faith in the Zionist connection with Britain—at least up until the publication of McDonald’s White Paper on 17 May 1939.

As he saw it, the obstacle to fulfil the British obligation was the political game that the Mandatory Administration in Palestine played. He put the blame on the local administration, rather than on His Majesty’s government in London. This article presents the interpretation of the Balfour Declaration—and, by extension, the British Mandate—through the eyes of the leader of Revisionist Zionism.

“Visualizing Democracy, Difference, and Judaism in Israeli Posters, 1948–1978”

By: Inbal Ben-Asher Gitler

Abstract: Israeli posters created during the first three decades of statehood express ideas central to constructing national identity. This article argues that posters produced by the state and its official agencies show the complex relationship between democracy and Judaism, as well as gender and ethnic difference. Democracy was represented by manifestations of modernity, progress, gender equality, and ethnic difference; religious symbols and narratives represented Judaism.

These elements were visually integrated in posters, and express the complexities of Israeli democracy, as well as changing attitudes towards difference and Judaism. This article demonstrates that designers enlisted sophisticated means of both abstract and figurative artistic devices to mediate these ideas, making a significant contribution to the construction of Israeli visual culture.

“’We Were Here First’: Guiding Jewish Israeli Pupils at Christian Sites”

By: Orit Ramon, Ines Gabel, Varda Wasserman

Abstract: The article examines the image of Christianity and Christians as expressed in the narratives used to guide Israeli pupils at Christian sites in Jerusalem. Based on an analysis of tour observations and interviews with tour guides and those who prepare the itineraries, it explores how the presentation of Christianity and Christians serves as a means of constructing a modern Israeli identity. It argues that despite the power of Jews in the Israeli state, there is a growing sense of victimhood in Israeli society, one that leads to the introduction of Jewish-Christian polemics into the Zionist narrative, and to the transformation of tours—ostensibly designed to expose students to cultural/religious pluralism—into a means of perpetuating the notion of hostile “others”.

“Angelo Roncalli Nuncio to Paris and the Establishment of the State of Israel”

By: Paolo Zanini

Abstract: The article analyses the attitude of Angelo Roncalli, at that time Nuncio to Paris and successively Pope John XXIII, toward the establishment of the State of Israel. Through research based on various archival sources and personal papers, it shows how Roncalli’s attitude toward Zionism, the Middle Eastern question, and the establishment of Israel wasn’t the fruit of a deliberate political decision, but the result of a cultural and religious openness toward other faiths and cultures, including Judaism.

Due to his background and experience, Roncalli was certainly one of the Vatican’s most sympathetic diplomats toward Jewish illegal immigration to Eretz Israel immediately after WW II, which he primarily considered a humanitarian issue. At the same time, he frequently showed his friendship toward Israel’s envoys and representatives, even if he never took an overt position toward the political aspects of the Middle Eastern crisis.

“The First Israeli Weapons Procurement Behind the Iron Curtain: The Decisive Impact on the War of Independence”

By: Haggai Frank, Zdeněk Klíma, Yossi Goldstein

Abstract: A fundamental question still asked about the circumstances that enabled the IDF to emerge victorious from Israel’s War of Independence concerns the quantity of weapons possessed by the two sides in the conflict. Although the balance of arms at the war’s outset was decisively in favor of the Arab states, the leadership of the newly established state of Israel managed to close this gap. This article highlights the key role played by Czechoslovakia, which had only then begun its transformation into a Soviet satellite state, as the chief arms supplier of the IDF during Israel’s War of Independence. It considers the process by which the relationship was formed and the arms acquired, the key players involved, and the procured arms’ decisive impact on the hostilities.

“Israel in Revolution—Matzpen, the Palestine Conflict, and the Hebrew Nation”

By: Lutz Fiedler

Abstract: The article presents a short history of the Matzpen group, and aims at scrutinizing their history as a possible approach to broader questions of Jewish, Israeli, and general history. Starting with the political origins of the group as split from Israeli communism, it concentrates mostly on Matzpen’s dealing with the Palestine conflict. Based on a socialist “horizon of expectation”, Matzpen struggled for a so-called de-Zionization of Israeli society and simultaneously for the recognition of Israeli Jewry as a Hebrew Nation within the Arab world. It concludes by discussing the central tension arising from the Israeli Left’s struggle for a Hebrew nation and a socialist revolution. It led them to maintain distance from a new collective notion of Jewishness after Auschwitz, which regarded the existence of a Jewish state as a guarantee for Jewish life after the Holocaust.

“Young American Jews and Israel: Beyond Birthright and BDS”

By: Dov Waxman

Abstract: The article examines the attitudes of young adult American Jews towards Israel and their views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Drawing on the Pew Research Center’s 2013 survey of American Jews, the largest in more than a decade, as well as other empirical data, the article rejects the popular claim that young American Jews are emotionally detached and disconnected from Israel. Instead, the article argues that they are actually more engaged with Israel than their predecessors were, but that they are also more critical of Israeli government policies and feel more sympathetic towards the Palestinians than older American Jews.

A number of reasons for these attitudes towards Israel are put forward, focusing on the political orientation, demographic composition, and formative experiences of this younger cohort of American Jews. In doing so, the article seeks to explain the generational differences between younger and older American Jews when it comes to Israel.

“The Silence Address: Silence as it Emerged from Media Commentators and Respondents, Following Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 2015 Address at the UN”

By: Michal Ephratt

Abstract: A qualitative analysis of the Israeli prime minister’s “silence address” to the UN General assembly in October 2015 provides a kaleidoscope of Israeli perceptions about silence. The model that emerges from field research grounded theory includes silence as an entity in its own right, silence compared with other entities, and silence as belonging to broader contexts. Quotes from primary sources such as live commentaries covering Netanyahu’s address and written materials include professional journalists’ along with non-professional postings on the Internet, and their analyses are interwoven into the discussion of themes and interrelations.

Journal of Arabic Literature (Volume 48, Issue 3)

 

“Sight, Sound, and Surveillance in Baʿthist Syria: The Fiction of Politics in Rūzā Yāsīn Ḥasan’s Rough Draft and Samar Yazbik’s In Her Mirrors”

By: Max Weiss

Abstract: Contemporary Syrian literature bears unmistakable traces of more than four decades of authoritarian rule. This article identifies connections among aesthetics, politics, and affect in two Syrian novels, Rūzā Yāsīn Ḥasan’s Brūfā (Rough Draft) (2011) and Samar Yazbik’s Lahā marāyā (In Her Mirrors) (2010). Through literary representations of state security (the mukhābarāt), surveillance—including the structure and function of mirrors and screens, eavesdropping, and security stations—and new conceptions of the political, state power influences cultural production, even as the contemporary Syrian novel offers a critique of authoritarian dictatorship’s immanent relationship to the practice of narration itself.

“’As You Are Now’: Ibn Isrā’īl’s Elegies for His Daughter”

By: Th. Emil Homerin

Abstract: The 7th/13th century Damascene poet Muḥammad Ibn Isrā’īl (d. 677/1278) was noted for his dedicated discipleship to the controversial Sufi ʿAlī al-Ḥarīrī and for his elegant mystical Arabic verse. Based on his belief in Divine Oneness, Ibn Isrā’īl claimed that all of his poems were in praise of God.

This article will closely read two elegies that Ibn Isrā’īl composed following the tragic death of his adult daughter. In them, Ibn Isrā’īl drew from both the classical Arabic elegiac tradition and Muslim beliefs in immortality to forge a rhetoric of transformation, which denies the ultimate finality of his daughter’s death and reaffirms her continued life in God’s presence, where they may yet meet again. Moreover, these elegies for a daughter are indicative of new trends in Arabic poetry in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods—namely, a focus on more personal matters—only rarely seen in pre-Islamic or classical Arabic verse.

“’It Eclipsed Cairo and Outshone Baghdad!’: Ibn Rashīq’s Elegy for the City of Qayrawan”

By: Nizar F. Hermes

Abstract: Ibn Rashīq’s popularity in the Arab world as one of the most distinguished classical Maghribi poets owes much to what is often called in Arabic school textbooks “Nūniyyat Ibn Rashīq fī rithāʾ al-Qayrawān,” or simply “Nūniyyat Ibn Rashīq.” Ibn Rashīq composed his city-elegy, the nūniyyah, while living in exile to lament the destruction (kharāb) and desolation (khalā̄ʾ) of Qayrawan in the wake of the Hilālī sacking of the city in 1057 CE. A full English translation of Ibn Rashīq’s printed and standardized nūniyyah follows an introductory essay that enumerates salient linguistic and rhetorical features, and offers a manuscript and publication history for the poem.

The essay pivots around the lack of elegiac and nostalgic representation of Qayrawan’s once majestic ‘cityscape’ and iconic worldly buildings in the nūniyyah, finding the mnemonic and nostalgic focus of the Maghrib’s most renowned city-elegy to be rather the loss of the city’s fuqahāʾ (Islamic scholars or jurisprudents).

“Conceiving the Pre-Modern Black-Arab Hero: On the Gendered Production of Racial Difference in Sīrat al-amīrah dhāt al-himmah”

By: Rachel Schine

Abstract: ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s character in Sīrat al-amīrah dhāt al-himmah is but one example of a black hero who figures prominently in a sīrah shaʿbiyyah, or popular heroic cycle, the earliest references to which appear in the twelfth century and several of which remain in circulation today. Like several of his counterparts, not only is he black, but he is also alone among his relatives in being so. The explanation supplied in the text of his mother Fāṭimah’s eponymous sīrah for his “spontaneous” phenotypic deviation makes use of rhetoric also found in various antecedent and near-contemporary belles-lettres sources. Placing ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s case within the context of this literary network illuminates a series of questions concerning the semiotics of race in pre-twelfth-century Arabo-Muslim literature, racially inflected anxieties about control of feminine sexuality, and pre-genetic syntheses of racial and reproductive “sciences.” This paper concludes that ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s blackness is produced through a set of scientific and speculative discourses that go beyond the prominent theories of climate influences and Hamitic genealogy, and that posit instead a racial determinacy that occurs spontaneously, regardless of geography or lineage, through a variety of interventions from and against the maternal body. These include the contamination of seminal fluid, “image-imprinting,” and divine fiat. The concentration of these theories within a single text makes ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s conception narrative a uniquely apt ground for discussing the broader complex of issues of gender and race in pre-modern Arabic literature.

 

Journal of Democracy (Volume 28, Issue 4 & Volume 29, Issue 1)

“Iran’s 2017 Election: The Opposition Inches Forward”

By: Abbas Milani

Abstract: Despite all its flaws, Iran’s May 2017 presidential balloting amounted to another small, but genuine, advance for the cause of democracy.

“Iran’s 2017 Election: Waning Democratic Hopes”

By: Ladan Boroumand

Abstract: Wrongly viewed by many media sources as a victory for “reform” and “openness,” the recent presidential election in Iran actually reflected the demoralization and disengagement of the country’s prodemocratic opposition.

“Fighting Terrorism: The Democracy Advantage”

By: Amichai Magen

Abstract: Despite worries that terror groups can turn open societies’ very openness against them, the numbers reveal that liberal democracies enjoy significant advantages in resisting the threat of terrorism.

“Dashed Hopes and Extremism in Tunisia”

By: Geoffrey Macdonald, Luke Waggoner

Abstract: Tunisia is now one of the Arab world’s most democratic countries, but it has also been producing worrisome numbers of recruits for groups such as ISIS. How can this paradox be explained?

 

Journal of Development Studies (Volume 53, Issues 10-12)

 

“The Fiscal Politics of Rebellious Grievance in the Arab World: Egypt and Jordan in Comparative Perspective”

By: Pete W. Moore

Abstract: In the aftermath of the 2011 protests, narrow economic arguments for revolt have proliferated. This essay broadens the debate by arguing that states’ latent fiscal weakness is an important source of enduring rebellious grievance in the Arab World. This essay makes this claim through a comparison of fiscal decline and policy response in Jordan and Egypt. Both states have endured fiscal crises and periodic revolt starting in the late 1970s.

Both regimes attempted to manage deepening fiscal weakness through similar coping policies, searching for new sources of revenue, and revising public spending. These measures failed to reverse the decline. Instead, new sources of revenue and shifts in spending deepened inequality in new ways, lowered capacities to curtail public-private corruption, and entrenched labour insecurity. In other words, it is the politics of fiscal weakness which explain the prominence of socio-economic grievance voiced before, during, and after 2011.

“Better Teachers, Better Results? Evidence from Rural Pakistan”

By: Marine de Talancé

Abstract: Most of the existing literature examining the determinants of school quality in developing countries has failed to take into account the crucial role of teachers. This study assesses how teachers contribute to knowledge acquisition in Punjab, Pakistan. The baseline specification used is a gain model with three different levels of fixed effects. It find that teacher quality is strongly correlated with student achievement. Increasing teachers’ wages could improve schooling quality, as could the recruitment of local and contract teachers. This analysis also underlines the importance of reforming training programmes and re-thinking wage policies.

“Financial Factors and Manufacturing Exports: Firm-Level Evidence From Egypt”

By: Youssouf Kiendrebeogo, Alexandru Minea

Abstract: This paper focuses on the effects of financial factors on manufacturing firms’ export participation in a panel of Egyptian manufacturing firms over the 2003–2008 period. Our main results show that financial constraints reduce export participation of Egyptian firms, while financial liquidity improves it. Moreover, financial constraints have a negative impact on alternative measures of export activity, namely, export intensity and the time the firm takes before starting to export. Consequently, adding to the scarce literature on developing countries, our results support an important impact of financial factors on Egyptian firms’ participation in international trade.

 

Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 13, Issue 3)

 

“’War Is like a Blanket’: Feminist Convergences in Kurdish and Turkish Women’s Rights Activism for Peace”

By: Nadje Al-Ali & Latif Tas

Abstract: Despite the recent outbreak of violence and conflict, peace continues to be high on the agenda of the Kurdish political movement and many progressive Turkish intellectuals and activists. Based on qualitative research we conducted in Diyarbakır, Istanbul, London, and Berlin in 2015–16, we show that Kurdish activists have struggled to make the eradication of gender-based inequalities and violence central to the wider Kurdish peace movement, while Turkish women’s rights activists have increasingly recognized that the war against the Kurds, “like a blanket,” often papers over gender injustices.

Both Kurdish and Turkish activists stress the necessity of understanding that a just and sustainable peace must include gender equality and that gender justice cannot be achieved in times of war. Thus feminist convergences in Kurdish and Turkish activism present peace and women’s rights as inseparable, and generate the potential to challenge nationalist state power and the militarization of society.

“Disreputable by Definition: Respectability and Theft by Poor Women in Urban Interwar Egypt”

By: Hanan Hammad

Abstract: Court records, police reports, and security statistics indicate that theft was the most frequent crime committed by imprisoned Egyptian women in the interwar period- although scholarship has largely focused on their involvement in prostitution. Theft by women was typically an isolated act motivated by urban conditions of poverty, but many women became skilled repeat offenders who worked individually or in teams, taking advantage of the growing transportation networks that linked villages, towns, and cities. The theft examined includes shoplifting, pickpocketing, burglary, laundry stealing, scams, and stealing from domestic employers. Given their low wages, poor and working-class women had difficulty meeting their material needs in a semicolonial capitalist urban economy even when they worked in legal occupations. In addition, the legal work most available to them, in factories or as domestic servants, violated classed and gendered notions of respectability. Theft offered the possibility of material gain without great loss in status if one were captured, since poor and working-class women who lived in Egypt’s growing cities between the two world wars already had difficulty measuring up to the standards of being mastura, a morally and sexually protected member of society.

“Putting Messianic Femininity into Zionist Political Action: The Race-Class and Ideological Normativity of Women for the Temple in Jerusalem”

By: Rachel Z. Feldman

Abstract: The movement to rebuild the Third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount/Haram ash-Sharif in Jerusalem has grown significantly since 2000. The Orthodox Jewish “Women for the Temple” group has come to play a central role in this activism. Women for the Temple activists perform a messianic femininity that emphasizes maternal duties and women’s redemptive power in Judaism while challenging male religious authorities and religious law in other areas. Activists define themselves as guardians of domestic space and the House of God (the future Third Temple), and redeemers of the Jewish nation.

This project simultaneously empowers women and enables state violence against Palestinians on Haram ash-Sharif. Scholarship that has examined Israel’s messianic right-wing women’s activism has overlooked their Ashkenazi whiteness and their middle-class privileged status in Israel. The race-class normativity of Women for the Temple allows them to access resources and police protection and facilitates the mainstreaming of the Third Temple movement.

“’One Can Veil and Be a Singer!’: Performing Piety on an Iranian Talent Competition”

By: Farzaneh Hemmasi

Abstract: This article explores the media controversy surrounding the victory of Ermia, a veiled female vocalist, on the 2013 expatriate Iranian talent competition Googoosh Music Academy (GMA). A historically and ethnographically informed “ethnotextual” analysis of a selection of Persian-language television programs, articles and news reports, weblogs, and Facebook posts responding to Ermia reveals how a reality television contestant came to disturb simplistic but powerful binaries of modest/immodest, religious/secular, Iranian/Western, and national/diasporic as she combined signifying elements of these positions into one unsettling figure. The article shows how Ermia’s case gathered political valence through the contentious transnational Iranian mediascape and the televised talent genre’s premise—representing “real,” “ordinary” contestants and fostering audience participation. This article argues that GMA became a space for publicly playing with cultural norms, political participation, and the politics of piety at some distance from the pressures that make publicly living difference so challenging.

 

Journal of Palestine Studies (Volume 47, Issue 1)

 

“Taking the Land Without the People: The 1967 Story As Told by the Law”

By: Noura Erakat

Abstract: This paper seeks to show how Israel has deployed Occupation Law in strategic ways to incrementally take the land of Palestine without its people. It argues that Israel has used UN Security Council Resolution 242 to retroactively legitimate those colonial takings in a political framework shaped by U.S. intervention. In themselves, the constituent pieces of the argument are not new and they have been extensively discussed in legal, political science, and historical literature. Rather than consider them as the sum of their parts, this paper attempts to view the issues that have been kept distinct and separate within disciplinary silos as a mutually-reinforcing whole, demonstrating that the United States’ political position made an otherwise bankrupt legal argument effective and showing how the Security Council’s deliberations gave Israel ample room for maneuver in spite of the drafting parties’ original intent.

In examining the relationship between law and political power, the article points to the ways in which the balance of power bears upon the meaning and significance of law in international conflict. Thus, the failure of Occupation Law to regulate the occupation of the Palestinian Territories ultimately reflects the outcome of a political, not a legal, contest: Israel’s legal argumentation that the territories are merely under its administration would have no value were it not for the power politics that shape international relations in the region.

“State Formation from Below and the Great Revolt in Palestine”

By: Charles W. Anderson

Abstract: The Great Revolt (1936–39) represented the most fervent and sustained Palestinian challenge to British and Zionist colonialisms during the thirty years of British rule in Palestine. Although its ultimate defeat has led to negative appraisals of its historical significance, the uprising was in its day the largest mass mobilization in Palestinian history and, at its apex, threatened to overturn the British regime. The rebellion was characterized by considerable organizational ingenuity as Palestinians created novel institutions that embodied their drive for popular sovereignty and an end to colonial domination. This article principally examines two such sets of institutions, the national and popular committees of 1936, and the rebel court system from 1937–39. In doing so, it argues that much like revolutionary peasant-based movements elsewhere in the colonial world, insurgent forces in Palestine embarked on a process of state formation from below. This process aimed to sap the colonial regime of its authority and weaken its capacities while augmenting those of the rebels by integrating broad segments of the population into insurgent frameworks. It further contends that it is the dynamic of state formation from below, and the popular character and leadership of the rebel movement, that lent the revolt its resilience and enabled it to push the colonial state to the wall.

“The ‘Right to Have Rights’: Partition and Palestinian Self-Determination”

By: Leila Farsakh

Abstract: This paper reexamines the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and the extent to which a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was ever truly possible. Such a reexamination seems all the more pertinent today on the hundredth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. It is also seventy years since the UN partition plan to divide historic Palestine and fifty years since UN Security Council Resolution 242, which has been the basis for every peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors but makes no mention of or reference to the Palestinian people. The paper argues that the history of the past fifty years reinforces the claim that a State is central to any attempt to fight Palestinian erasure and ensure “the right to have rights,” as Hannah Arendt put it, but it argues that such an entity needs to be elevated above the nation, rather than made subservient to it if it is to protect the rights of Palestinians and all those living on the land of Palestine.

“The Politics of Commemoration Among Palestinians”

By: Rochelle Davis

Abstract: Thinking about events and dates that Palestinians commemorate, one hundred years after the fateful Balfour Declaration of 1917, reveals a political timeline on which the story of contemporary Palestinian history hangs. Commemoration, as an act, tends to lionize certain events and persons, especially when it is officially created or sponsored. Because Palestinians have long been without an official political entity in Palestine that can produce official commemorative actions, Palestinian commemorations reflect both individual and collective actions that develop and change over time.

This essay analyzes those actions and the different spaces and actors behind them to explicate the politics of commemoration. It posits that the metanarratives of Palestinian history that have developed give primacy to the powers and forces that undermined Palestinian aspirations and actions. As metanarratives, they create frames for understanding history within a political and national discourse of struggle, dispossession, and suffering. And yet, these metanarratives miss the embodied practices of commemoration that define Palestinian life within this struggle. Detailing Palestinians’ commemorations reveals the robust culture that ties commemorations of the past with activism, awareness, and education for the present and the future.

“The First Intifada: Hope and the Loss of Hope”

By: Khalid Farraj

Abstract: In this reflection on the First Intifada (1987–93), Khalid Farraj recounts his very personal experience as an active member of the uprising. In addition to describing the harsh conditions in Israeli detention at the Ansar 3 prison in the southern Negev, Farraj details the ways in which the uprising was organized at the grassroots, fueling the hopes and dreams of an entire generation of Palestinians. He relates his own arrest in March 1988 during a security sweep of Jalazun refugee camp where he grew up and his work as an activist leafleting and disseminating information among the community.

Farraj also provides a glimpse into the workings of the uprising both at the grassroots and at the level of the clandestine local leadership known as the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU, al-qiyada al-muwwahida). Despite the letdown subsequent to the Oslo process, which yielded neither self-determination nor liberation for the Palestinians, the First Intifada remains a pivotal moment of Palestinian history, which Farraj looks back on with feeling but without nostalgia. This first-person text was translated from Arabic by Nehad Khader and Maia Tabet. The original appeared in issue 110 (Spring 2017) of Majallat al-Dirasat al-Filastiniyya.

“Plus ça Change: The 1922 U.S. Congressional Debate on the Balfour Declaration”

By: Khaled Elgindy

Abstract: This essay looks at the hearing held by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in April 1922 on the subject of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, as well as the broader congressional debate over the Balfour Declaration at that crucial time. The landmark hearing, which took place against the backdrop of growing unrest in Palestine and just prior to the League of Nations’ formal approval of Britain’s Mandate over Palestine, offers a glimpse into the cultural and political mindset underpinning U.S. support for the Zionist project at the time as well as the ways in which the political discourse in the United States has, or has not, changed since then. Despite the overwhelming support for the Zionist project in Congress, which unanimously endorsed Balfour in September 1922, the hearing examined all aspects of the issue and included a remarkably diverse array of viewpoints, including both anti-Zionist Jewish and Palestinian Arab voices.

Mediterranean Politics (Volume 22, Issues 3 & 4)

 

“Syrian refugees in Turkey: Multifaceted Challenges, Diverse Players and Ambiguous Policies”

By: Fulya Memisoglu & Asli Ilgit

Abstract: Turkey is rapidly transforming into a country of immigration, in addition to its roles as a country of emigration and of transit. Bearing in mind that existing arrangements in this policy area are increasingly replaced by new legal, administrative, and institutional mechanisms, this paper aims to map out these recent changes in Turkish refugee and asylum policy. In this context, the mass influx of Syrian refugees has become an issue of particular concern due to the complex interplay between its security, humanitarian, and socio-economic dimensions and the multifaceted relationship between the growing number of state and non-state institutions. The numerous reports, policy briefs, and analysis generated so far, however, lack a clear analytical framework that would explain both the domestic contestation and the role of various actors in Turkish asylum debate about the Syrian refugees. This paper thus examines different perspectives and approaches of the Turkish state, local, and national NGOs and international organizations regarding the policies addressing Syrian refugees in Turkey.

“Neoliberalism, the State and Economic Policy Outcomes in the Post-Arab Uprisings: The Case of Egypt”

By: Angela Joya

Abstract: Despite the radical upheavals during the revolution of 2011, whereby the Egyptian public rejected neoliberalism and authoritarianism, Egypt has reverted back to the neoliberal model of economic development. This paper discusses the reasons behind the resilience of neoliberalism focusing on the role of dominant economic ideas, the influence of international financial institutions in policy making, and the challenging domestic political environment, which has so far precluded a break from the neoliberal model. The paper ends with a critical assessment of current policies and their broader social implications for different classes and groups in Egypt.

“Social Protest and Nationalism in Western Sahara: Struggles around Fisheries and Housing in El Ayun and Dakhla”

By: Victoria Veguilla

Abstract: The Gdeim Izik protest emerged in response to Moroccan public policy (the distribution of land for construction), and adopted a nationalist line during the course of the action, provoking a heavy-handed response from Moroccan state security forces. This paper analyses the process and places it in the broader context of protest movements that emerge in situations of occupation and authoritarian rule. To that end, the study addresses the reconfiguration of the protest camp in Western Sahara during the 2000s, including protests that were not explicitly pro-independence struggles, to examine how Sahrawi protest actors perceived and assessed this context, and how this assessment influenced their individual and collective action strategies.

“The New Offshore Frontiers of EU Energy Security in the Mediterranean: The Politics of Hydrocarbon Development in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas”

By: Andrea Prontera

Abstract: Many EU Mediterranean countries are developing national plans for offshore hydrocarbon exploration and production. The transformation of the Mediterranean Sea into a new frontier for EU energy security has raised important concerns about the protection of the fragile marine ecosystem of this semi-enclosed sea. Additional issues have emerged where states’ boundaries at sea are not yet defined. This article analyses the emerging international and transnational politics of hydrocarbon development in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas by highlighting the main drivers and effects of the recent relaunch of offshore activities in this region.

“The Art of Bypassing: Students’ Politicization in Beirut”

By: Bruno Lefort

Abstract: This article explores how students experiment with politicization in contemporary Beirut. The objective is to refine the understanding of the interplay between memorialization, identification, and politics in the Lebanese context. Based on ethnographic material and, qualitative interviews, the article argues that politicization, defined as a twofold process of collectivization and conflictualization, is shaped by interactional positioning between students. It relies on identification along patterned storylines framing the cognition and recognition of the self and others. Largely dependent upon affective and memorial dynamics, these experiences of politicization become constitutive for students’ understanding of identity boundaries within the Lebanese plural society.

“Democratization in the Middle East and North Africa: A More Ambidextrous Process?”

By: Philippe C. Schmitter & Nadine Sika

Abstract: Democratization is always an ambidextrous process. On the one hand, it triggers a universalistic set of norms, events, processes and, symbols. On the other hand, democratization involves a much more particularistic set of ‘realistic’ adaptations to the structures and circumstances of individual countries. In analysing the structures and conjunctures of countries in the Arab World during the past decades, scholars looked at them from the perspective of persistent authoritarianism.

This essay exploits democratization theory – as well as its converse ‒ by analysing the universalistic set of events, processes, and symbols of democratization elsewhere in the world, and then identifying the particularistic characteristics of timing, location, and coincidence that seem likely to affect the political outcome of regime change in the countries affected by recent popular uprisings in the Arab World.

“Leavening Neoliberalization’s Uneven Pathways: Bread, Governance and Political Rationalities in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”

By: José Ciro Martínez

Abstract: Techniques of governance in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan do not follow a single or unifying logic. Despite a more than decade-long shift towards a neoliberal orientation, market-disciplinary policies coincide with important exceptions. This article employs a modified variegated neoliberalization approach to explore one such exception. Specifically, it analyses the recent debate over the country’s bread subsidy to elucidate key elements of Jordan’s socio-economic transformation. The persistence of this long-standing welfare programme is linked to the uneven pathways of Jordanian neoliberalization and two potent political rationalities imbricated in this process.

“Trade Unions and Politics in Cyprus: A Historical Comparative Analysis Across the Dividing Line”

By: Gregoris Ioannou & Sertac Sonan

Abstract: This article is the first comparative study on the historical development of trade unions in Cyprus. It assesses the impact of the historical trajectory and ethnic division on the contemporary condition of the trade unions, which substantially diverge from each other. It compares and contrasts the framework, conditions, and forms of trade unionism across the dividing line, focusing on the current conjuncture and accounts for them using a historical institutionalist approach. It concludes that disparity is likely to persist although recent austerity policies have been posing similar challenges to the trade unions on both sides of the divide.

“Endogenous Versus Exogenous Rules in Water Management: An Experimental Cross-country Comparison”

By: Benedikt Ibele, Serena Sandri & Dimitrios Zikos

Abstract: This paper draws on institutional and experimental economics to investigate the role of exogenous and endogenous rules in irrigation systems. The hypotheses it examines argues that despite the differences between socio-economic and political settings, (1) endogenous rule-crafting can help water users to overcome appropriation and provision dilemmas in water-scarce environments, like in the East Mediterranean countries, and that (2) in market-like water governance systems, institutions other than the market itself are less influential for overcoming appropriation and provision dilemmas than in hybrid governance systems. These hypotheses are being tested comparing the results of field experiments conducted in Jordan, the Republic of Cyprus, and North Cyprus with 70 farmers.

Field experiments simulate asymmetric access to resources and are based on variations of the irrigation game by Cardenas et al. to model and test asymmetric distribution of investment, harvest, and revenue that favours upstream users. Empirical evidence shows that externally imposed allocation rules are able to bring in more equal distribution of revenue among upstream–downstream users but is likely to reduce the volume of investment and revenue, without resolving issues of free-riding.

The authors argue that given the opportunity, water users (small farmers in our experiments) are able to craft their own rules improving the overall performance of the group in terms of investment and revenue, with a parallel improvement of equity in distribution. The implications and policy relevance of such findings are briefly discussed as they contradict typical practices of top-down policy delivery in the selected cases.

Middle East Critique (Volume 26, Issue 4)

 

The Nour Party: Weathering the Political Storm in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

By: Maha A. Ghalwash, Lawrie Phillips

Abstract: This article addresses the role of the Salafi Nour party in the current Egyptian political arena, examining its ability to survive in a tumultuous environment by investigating three junctures in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period: the January 2011 demonstrations, the ouster of President Muhammad Morsi, and the 2015 parliamentary elections. The investigation relied on two theoretical approaches.

The first, framing theory, enabled us to investigate the party’s frames and how these were modified in response to unfolding events. Second, because frame ideas frequently are produced and modified through discourse, this article employs discourse analysis to explore these issues. The combination of these approaches allows this article to examine the statements issued by party leaders on their Facebook pages and in their interviews with local newspapers. Based on these analyses, three claims are made cear: First, that the Nour party’s central frame contained two major components, nationalist and Islamist concerns, which were developed in order to expand party supporters.

Second, the development of the party’s major ideas constituted a contested and shared process, with different leaders articulating diverse views. The ensuing disagreements contributed to the contraction of the party’s support base, as reflected in the 2015 parliamentary elections. Third, the party’s ideational trajectory reflects its pragmatism.

Compressing Scales: Characters and Situations in Egyptian Internet Humor

By: Chihab El Khachab

Abstract: This article examines common political assumptions made in Egyptian internet comics, mainstream television discourse, and everyday conversation in Cairo. These assumptions compress local, national, and global scales of analysis into a manageable set of characters (e.g., the President, the People) interacting in everyday situations. Arguing against psychological interpretations, the article highlights the social and historical context within which humor is ‘entextualized’ on par with television and everyday discourse, based on an analysis of a selection of Egyptian internet comics, television moments, and political talk in Cairo between 2013 and 2015.

Of Monarchs and Islamists: The ‘Refo-lutionary’ Promise of the PJD Islamists and Regime Control in Morocco

By: Mohamed Daadaoui

Abstract: The article engages the literature on political parties in semi-authoritarian regimes to examine the state and Islamists’ strategies in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings in Morocco. The pace of state reforms and the regime’s institutional flexibility pre-Arab spring, the cosmetic reforms in the new constitution, and the 2011 legislative elections so far have insulated the Moroccan regime against any meaningful constitutional and institutional changes. However, the electoral contests produced an opportunity for the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) to enter the Moroccan political scene at the helm of the government.

Using extensive field research and interviews with PJD members, this article argues that the party is pursuing a pragmatic ‘revolutionary’ strategy within the regime’s constitutional rules of the game, aiming to mitigate the authoritarian features of the government while tackling, with limited success, Morocco’s major socio-economic issues. Ultimately, the regime’s control over the political system continues to influence Moroccan politics. The monarchy has a long tradition of managing opposition parties through co-optation and confinement, allowing opposition parties some stake in power, while the king and the palace’s shadow government of advisers are firmly in control.

Beyond Structure and Contingency: Toward an Interactionist and Sequential Approach to the 2011 Uprisings

By: Mounia Bennani-Chraïbi

Abstract: Taking as its starting point the mental earthquake produced by the 2011 uprisings, this article tackles the epistemological questions of causality and contingency in an effort to foster dialogue between comparative political regime studies, the sociology of revolutions, and social movement literature. Based on a comparative analysis of three ‘positive cases’ (Egypt, Syria and Tunisia), and a ‘negative case’ (Morocco), it follows an interactionist and sequential approach to revolutionary situations. Its main objective is to expand the scope of the attempts aimed at reconciling structure and contingency, by focusing on the formation of large coalitions and the spread of mobilization on division or defection from within the repressive apparatus, and on the impact of crisis management by the incumbents.

More specifically, this article highlights the fact that uncertainty affects not only the ‘actors from below,’ but also all the actors present- the challengers as much as the incumbents and their international allies, the ordinary citizens as well as the officers and the recruits.

Iranian Cinema’s ‘Quiet Revolution,’ 1960–1978

By: Ali Mirsepassi, Mehdi Faraji

Abstract: This article analyzes the movies produced in the two decades prior to the 1979 Revolution in Iran. It argues that these films influenced a cultural transformation we call a ‘quiet revolution.’ The Quiet Revolution refers to a new ‘national imagination’ fashioned around the idea of gharbzadegi [Westoxification].

The gharbzadegi discourse grounded an identity based public movement. It countered the autocratic modernization of Iran, in the guise of a ‘spiritual’ or pastoral other. It also positioned its own narrative as the ‘transcendent’ other of secular and modern Iran. This article focuses upon the Iranian New Wave cinema movement. It particularly discusses the works of Daruish Mehrjui, a pioneering Iranian film director of the 1960s and 1970s.

 

Middle East Journal (Volume 71, Issue 4)

 

The “Enemy Within”: Citizenship-Stripping in the Post–Arab Spring GCC

By: Zahra Babar

Abstract: This article reviews the impact of the Arab Spring on citizenship rights throughout the Gulf states, drawing on both internal and external dimensions of security that have become inextricably linked with notions of who has the right to maintain their citizenship. In particular, the article focuses on the phenomenon of citizenship revocation as a mode of disciplining behavior considered to be inconsistent with established norms of state-citizen relations in this region.

Qatar and the UAE: Exploring Divergent Responses to the Arab Spring

By: David B. Roberts

Abstract: During the Arab Spring, Qatar tended to support the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, while the United Arab Emirates opposed them. This article argues that, despite these states’ ostensible similarities, their different political structures fostered contrasting experiences with an ascendant political Islam. Subsequently, the policies reflected each leader’s approach to statecraft: Abu Dhabi crown prince Muhammad bin Zayid Al Nahyan, who steers Emirati foreign policy, reacted with a security-focused check on such groups, while the former Qatari emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani sought to build relations with them.

Justice, Charity, and the Common Good: In Search of Islam in Gulf Petro-Monarchies

By: Miriam R. Lowi

Abstract: The article probes the effects of Islamic doctrine on the allocation of hydrocarbon revenues and vice versa and the significance of this relationship for politics. It explores two areas of (state-directed) distributive activity: government subsidies and charitable giving in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. It demonstrates how both oil revenues and Islamic doctrine are mobilized to consolidate state authority and how both have been manipulated and deliberately interconnected as tools of state power.

The Para-Diplomacy of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and the Kurdish Statehood Enterprise

By: Yoosef Abbas Zadeh, Sherko Kirmanj

Abstract: Despite not having achieved statehood, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq has been increasingly active in the international arena since the founding of its Department of Foreign Relations in 2005. This article assesses how successful this diplomacy has been at advancing the interests of both the KRG and the Kurdish statehood enterprise. This article then situates the KRG’s foreign initiatives in the growing body of International Relations literature on the foreign policies of non-state actors.

The Iraqi Occupation of Kuwait: New Historical Perspectives

By: Joseph Sassoon, Alissa Walter

Abstract: The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was a critical juncture in both countries’ histories. With unprecedented access to internal Iraqi documents about the invasion of Kuwait, this article underscores how the Iraqi leadership perceived Kuwait, assesses the Iraqi regime’s objectives in Kuwait, and analyzes Kuwaiti resistance to the Iraqi occupation. The article ultimately aims to show that Iraq’s policies of violence and dispossession in Kuwait were similar to tactics the Ba’thist regime had used before against internal opponents.

Middle East Law and Governance (Volume 9, Issue 3)

 

The Political and Institutional Impact of Syria’s Displacement Crisis: Introduction

By: Marc Lynch

Abstract: Syria’s war has since 2011 generated an exceptionally severe displacement crisis. How has the forced movement of millions of Syrians, both within the country and across borders, impacted political institutions and behavior? This symposium examines the political and institutional impact of Syria’s displacement crisis through a diverse set of methods and original empirical field research. Contributors explore the changes in the nature of Syria’s borders, the effects on Syrian identity, patterns of activism and organization among refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, the dynamics of international attention to Syrian refugees, and the challenges of resettlement in Germany.

Rethinking Borders: The Dynamics of Syrian Displacement to Lebanon

By: Filippo Dionigi

Abstract: Borders and territoriality are key components of modern forms of statehood, yet their relevance appears to be challenged by interstate movements of peoples. This essay proposes a reconceptualization of borders as “thin borders” to develop an analytical framework of the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon going beyond a conventional understanding of Westphalian statehood. Looking at historical and contemporary events, the analysis highlights several transborder dynamics influencing the process of refugees’ displacement from Syria to Lebanon. It then illustrates the complex nature of borders as multilayered entities regulating the flow of people from Syria to Lebanon in a way that transcends the idea of national territoriality.

“Standoffish” Policy-making: Inaction and Change in the Lebanese Response to the Syrian Displacement Crisis

By: Lama Mourad

Abstract: With the largest refugee population per capita in the world, Lebanon now officially hosts at least 1.1 million Syrian refugees. Until late 2014, the Lebanese government maintained de facto open borders and little to no regulation of Syrians within its borders. This period has largely been understood as one of state absence: referred to broadly as a “policy of no-policy.” This paper looks at the way in which state inaction played a major role in structuring the responses that did emerge, both “below” and “above” the state, from local authorities and international agencies.

It sheds light on how indirect measures taken by the central government facilitated and encouraged greater local autonomy in governing the refugee presence. This, in turn, further decentralized and fragmented the current set of responses to the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon and legitimized discretionary action by municipal authorities.

Aiding Activism? Humanitarianism’s Impacts on Mobilized Syrian Refugees in Jordan

By: Rana B. Khoury

Abstract: A common narrative of the Syrian conflict suggests that it began with a grassroots uprising and devolved into a violent war between armed actors, leaving civilians to become victims or warriors. A more careful consideration of developments in and around Syria uncovers evidence of continued unarmed mobilization among civilians. Indeed, refugees in neighboring countries like Jordan are deeply engaged in humanitarian, developmental, and political endeavors. In this study, qualitative research and a unique survey together demonstrate that Syrians in Jordan have engaged in abundant activism on behalf of the Syrian cause. Still, the overwhelming militarism and humanitarianism that have characterized the Syrian crisis have had their impacts: activist organization is constricted and configured by security imperatives and, paradoxically, by the aid regime assisting civilians in the conflict. In turn, activism has evolved from grassroots mobilization to a formal and aid-based response to a humanitarian crisis.

Dignity and Humiliation: Identity Formation among Syrian Refugees

By: Basileus Zeno

Abstract: Since 2011, half of Syria’s population has been forced to flee its homes. Much research has focused on the macro-level challenges and post-conflict reconstruction plans. In this article, I focus on the micro-level by examining the dialectic of “humiliation” and “dignity” as a dynamic that shapes and transforms Syrian refugees’ identities through sustained interaction, and sometimes through struggle, with others, who can be pro-regime or pro-opposition Syrians, or pro-refugees or anti-refugees in hosting countries. Methodologically, I use an interpretive approach which focuses on context-specific meanings and their relation to power, seeking multifaceted understandings of refugees’ lived-experience.

This research is based on ethnographic fieldwork and ordinary language interviews conducted in the United States, and semi-structured, open-ended interviews with Syrians in Germany and Turkey. I show that researching participants’ meaning-making in their own settings reveals the dynamics of humiliation and dignity as dialectically interwoven in specific situational contexts and shaped by refugees’ lived-experience in both the country of origin (in the past), and the hosting country (in the present).

The New Grand Compromise: How Syrian Refugees Changed the Stakes in the Global Refugee Assistance Regime

By: Rawan Arar

Abstract: The influx of asylum seekers in Europe in 2015 and 2016 changed the incentive structure of the “grand compromise” – the system of global refugee management in which states in the Global South host most of the world’s refugees and states in the Global North finance refugee hosting abroad. Asylum seekers interrupted the established status quo, and in doing so, created new opportunities for states in the Global South. This article argues that a “new grand compromise” emerged. Major refugee host states in the Global South, especially those with large Syrian refugee populations, were able to leverage the value of their refugee hosting capacity and renegotiate policies to promote state-centric agendas. This article elaborates on the case of Jordan to illustrate how government officials strategically capitalized from the influx of asylum seekers in Europe, making Jordanian resilience and development an integral part of the global refugee response.

Culture or Bureaucracy? Challenges in Syrian Refugees’ Initial Settlement in Germany

By: Wendy Pearlman

Abstract: In 2015 and 2016, Germany received more than 1.1 million asylum applications, some 425,000 of them from Syrians. Significant optimism accompanied the peak of this refugee inflow, with many Syrians praising Germany as a haven offering freedom and dignity, and many Germans taking pride in their country’s humanitarian stance and welcoming culture. Since then, various sources of anxiety have emerged, particularly those related to locals’ concerns about threats to their country’s national culture and newcomers’ frustrations stemming from their dealings with state bureaucracy.

Building on field research in Germany in 2016 and 2017, this article offers a preliminary exploration of these issues, with a focus on refugees’ experience of bureaucracy in the realms as legal status, housing, and work. The article concludes with reflections on how juxtaposition of locals and newcomers’ respective concerns can highlight unexpected spaces for exchange and mutual understanding.

 

New Left Review (Issue 107)

Erdogan’s Cesspit

By: Daniel Finn

Abstract: Not available

Oriens (Volume 45, Issue 3-4)

 

The Essence-Existence Distinction: Four Elements of the Post-Avicennian Metaphysical Dispute (11–13th Centuries)

By: Fedor Benevich

Abstract: The essence-existence distinction was a central issue in metaphysical disputes among post-Avicennian thinkers in the Islamic world. One group argued that what a thing is, is different from that which is only conceptual. A rival view would have it that the distinction between essence and existence is real. The purpose of this article is to analyze the philosophical core of the dispute, by isolating the main arguments and their metaphysical foundations. It will study four central issues of the essence-existence debate: (1) the argument that existence is distinct from essence because one can conceive an essence without knowing whether it exists; (2) the argument that if existence were really distinct from essence, existence would itself have to exist, leading to an infinite regress; (3) the question of whether God is responsible for the existence of essences only, or also, for their essential content (this relates to the problem of the ontological status of the non-existent); (4) the problem of whether essences are prior to existence.

The First ‘Proclean’ Section (Chapter 20) of ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Book on the Science of Metaphysics. Is the Pure Good of the Maḥḍ al-ḫayr Aristotle’s First Principle, Intellect in Actuality?

By: Cecilia Martini Bonadeo

Abstract: The first ‘Proclean’ section (Chapter 20) in ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī’s Kitāb fī ʿilm mā baʿd al-ṭabīʿa is titled Fī mā qāla l-ḥakīm fī kitāb īḍāḥ al-ḫayr. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī presents his epitome of the Maḥḍ al-ḫayr. He reproduces all the propositions except numbers 4, 10, 18, and 20 in the same order. He adds Proclus’s proposition 54, on the difference between eternity and time (Mā bayn al-dahr wa-l-zamān), which is recalled twice, and passages from Metaphysics Lambda and the pseudo-theology. Using a Farabian model, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf’s aim is to establish the identification between the First Cause, One, and Pure Good, as presented in the Liber de Causis, and the Aristotelian First Principle, Unmoved Mover, and Intellect in actuality, described in his paraphrase of Metaphysics Lambda.

Not surprisingly, however, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf is unable to reach this goal. Dissatisfied with the Avicennian summae, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf gathers in his Book on the Science of Metaphysics, a syllabus of the ancient doctrines, the foundational sources of falsafa plus al-Fārābī. This syllabus inevitably reflects the antinomy of its sources concerning the nature of the First Principle, i.e. the antinomy of the two main doctrines at the origin of falsafa, the Plotinian One and the Aristotelian Intellect in actuality.

The World-Revealing Cup by Mīr Ḥusayn al-Maybudī and Its Latin Translations

By: Reza Pourjavady

Abstract: Mīr Ḥusayn al-Maybudī (d. 909/1504) wrote a Persian treatise on philosophy, titled, The World-Revealing Cup (Jām-i gītī-numā), in which he provided a survey of the views of recent philosophers on various worldly matters. This work of Maybudī acquired some fame in both the Safavid and the Ottoman empires. This is evident from numerous extant manuscripts of it, and from the Persian commentary on it written by the Ottoman scholar ʿUmar al-Challī (fl. 1077/1666). What is more, the text attracted the attention of some European scholars. Sometime after March 1619, a Scottish traveller and Orientalist, George Strachan, who traveled to Isfahan, made an interlinear Latin translation in his own copy of the work. Some years later, a Maronite scholar of Arabic literature, Abraham Ecchellensis (d. 1664), translated the text based on an Arabic version of it available to him, and then in Paris, in 1641, he published the dual Arabic-Latin translation. This article endeavors to demonstrate the significance of this work based on the broad nature of its reception.

Two Hitherto Little-Studied Turkish Translations by Wojciech Bobowski alias Albertus Bobovius

By: Hannah Neudecker

Abstract: In this contribution, I will discuss two Turkish translations made by the famous Ottoman court official, Wojciech Bobowski, alias Albertus Bobovius (d. ca. 1677 CE). One is his translation of the Anglican Catechism (1654), the other his version of the Ianua linguarum by Johannes Amos Comenius (Komenský, 1592–1670), the Czech philosopher, pedagogue, and theologian (1658). Both texts have only survived as manuscripts and neither has been studied in any depth before. I will present the texts, as well as their historical backgrounds, and shed some new light on the life of the translator as well.

 

Review of African Political Economy (Volume 44, Issue 154)

 

How far does neoliberalism go in Egypt? Gender, citizenship and the making of the ‘rural’ woman

By: Karim Malak, Sara Salem

Abstract: This paper focuses on civil society in Egypt as a site in which the ‘Egyptian rural woman’ is made by looking at processes of microfinance which often ‘fail’ to realise their stated goals of ‘empowerment’, ‘poverty alleviation’, or ‘social mobility’. Using ethnographic material from a microfinance programme in the Egyptian governorate of al-Minya, such programmes are problematised beyond their stated goals. Instead, such initiatives put in place an infrastructure that links micro-borrowers to the market. Thus, what it means to be a ‘liberated’ woman in the Egyptian context is built on access, participation in, and creation of ‘the market’.

 

Review of Middle East Economics and Finance (Volume 13, Issue 3)

 

The Impact of Ownership on Corporate Performance: The Case of the UAE

By: Magda Elsayed Kandil, Minko Markovski

Abstract: This study attempts to identify whether government ownership has an effect on corporate performance, such as Return on Assets (ROA), Price to Book value, and Profits for a sample of 102 listed companies on the UAE stock exchanges, and a subsample of 17 banks listed on the same bourses, over a period of 31 quarters. In the case of the sample of 102 companies, government ownership has a positive impact on some of the corporate performance indicators, as well in the banking subsample. In addition, the analysis evaluates the impact of state ownership on debt accumulated across the two samples. The results indicate that state ownership reduced the need to accumulate debt in general across the larger sample.

Focusing on banks, state ownership facilitates borrowing and accumulating debt. The results point to the positive effect of state ownership on corporate performance. Further, state ownership eases constraints on banks’ borrowing as it boosts confidence in the outlook, facilitating higher ratings and cheaper sources of funding. In the case of the UAE, similar to some other countries, where there is a strong trend toward government ownership in listed companies and banks, it has a positive effect on their performance for the period 2008–2016, i. e., there is a positive relationship between the block-holder ownership and firms’ performance, subject to efficiency control measures.

 

Third World Quarterly (Volume 38, Issue 10 – Volume 39, Issue 1)

 

Media development in Syria: the Janus-faced nature of foreign aid assistance

By: Billie Jeanne Brownlee

Abstract: This article intends to provide responses to some of the many unanswered questions about the making and the transformation of the uprising in Syria by exploring a new avenue of research: media development aid. Most academic interest has been oriented towards the role that the new media played at the time of the uprising. Insufficient interest, by contrast, has been directed to the development of the sector in the years predating it. What emerges from this article is that the Syrian media landscape was strongly supported by international development aid during the years prior to the outbreak of the uprising of 2011. By looking at the complex structure of media aid architecture and investigating the practices and programmes implemented by some representative organisations, this article reflects on the field of media development as a new modus operandi of the West (the EU and US especially), to promote democracy through alternative and non-collateral, bottom-up support.

Migration diplomacy in the Global South: cooperation, coercion and issue linkage in Gaddafi’s Libya

By: Gerasimos Tsourapas

Abstract: Despite a recent resurgence in research on the politics of migration, foreign policy analysts have yet to approach cross-border population mobility as a distinct field of inquiry. Particularly within the Global South, scant work has theorised the interplay between migration and interstate bargaining. This article proposes the framework of migration diplomacy to examine how mobility features in states’ issue-linkage strategies, in both cooperative and coercive contexts. Drawing on Arabic, French, and English primary sources, it empirically demonstrates the salience of its framework through an analysis of Libya’s migration diplomacy towards its Arab, African, and European neighbours under Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya and Europe: imperialism, crisis, and migration

By: Lucia Pradella & Sahar Taghdisi Rad

Abstract: This article examines the recent dynamics of European imperialism in Libya in the light of Marx’s theory of the global reserve army of labour. It analyses the limited advance of Western imperialism in Libya in the decade before the 2011 uprisings, the interactions between local, regional, and international forces during and after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) intervention, and, finally, the evolving migratory patterns from Libya. In this light, the instability along the southern and eastern Mediterranean coastline – a product of the uprisings and the forms of political reactions they unleashed – is simultaneously a security threat and a channel of migratory movements to European capitalism.

When responsibility to protect ‘hits home’: the refugee crisis and the EU response

By: Stefania Panebianco and Iole Fontana

Abstract: While the Syrian refugee crisis unravels at the EU’s doorstep and as the death toll in the Mediterranean continues unabated, questions about the international community’s duty to act on behalf of the afflicted people inevitably arise, thereby fuelling convoluted debates about Responsibility to Protect (R2P). In light of the international community’s inertia and of the EU’s incapacity to adequately manage the worst humanitarian crisis of recent times, this article argues that time is ripe to explore other ways to implement R2P.

There is a ‘missing’ link between R2P and refugee protection and the duty to protect refugees can be framed within the R2P discourse. Building on the idea that asylum is central to the implementation of R2P, the article suggests that the acknowledgment of the linkage between R2P and refugee protection is helpful not only to improve the EU management of the current crisis, but also to uphold R2P when the international community is at a stalemate.

Note: I might re-organize these papers according to their subject matters and post them by extend my comments.

There’s times you are in positions of serious decision making

And you think you have learned the lessons for getting things done

I don’t care about your idea: there are plenty of ideas floating around”

I don’t have patience for your dirty rough drafts”

I have no time for your feeling the ground of my position on an issue”

If you are serious about a project, act as if it is your daydream project, with a serious team of professionals ready to execute your project.

Bring me a neat handwritten (I am tired of copy/paste sheets) and detailed project, neat handmade sketches, names of people willing to participate and cooperate on the project, each person in the team responsible for specific operational phase

If you consider your project to be that important and urgent enough, you have to demonstrate that you are investing time and energy on the plans, even before anyone invest anything on it.

I don’t want a long list of reference of sources. I want description and analysis of a few sources of experiments exhibiting the flaws, limitations and insufficiencies of the “peer reviewed articles“.

I want to know that you are proficient in reading the experimental designs, the procedures, the  controlling variables, the statistical analysis…  and how you would redesign the experiment to answer a few of your unresolved questions.

If you have disseminated your project adequately, you’ll discover that the Tribe of fans is formed already, and all this tribe need is for you to lead it. Get busy spreading your project and lead.

Money shouldn’t be of a major hurdle once the team is dedicated and behave as a tribe to make the project a success story.

There’s times you are in positions of serious decision making

I am ready to sit down and discuss for long hours with you and your team on the feasibility of the project, fine-tune the ideas, the phases of execution, the marketing plan, and re-consider the key personnel who are ready to start on the job full time and drop the redundant jobs.

The personnel anxious to wake up every morning with enthusiasm and confidence to break down the barriers and obstacles…

I want something well thought out and backed by a team of dedicated professionals willing to shoulder their responsibilities.

Get busy disseminating and assembling your team.

Get busy connecting and gathering your fans’ reactions and propositions.

That’s the best approach to convince me to meet with you and facilitate your project.

 

 

 

Is it the “human factor” behind credibility of an expert opinion?

J. Krishnamurti wrote: “If you depend on books (of the left, of the right or on sacred books), then you depend on mere opinion, whether of Buddha, of Christ, of capitalism, communism or what you will. They are ideas, not truth. A fact can never be denied. Opinion about fact can be denied. If we can discover what the truth of the matter is, we shall be able to act independently of opinion.”

The last sentence key opinion is “If we can discover what the truth…” and in my opinion, we cannot discover truth of anything: We have an idea or a feeling of what opinion means, but can we ever know what truth is?

This article is NOT about discriminating among: Fact, observation, experience, experiment, expert opinion, consensus opinion,truth… I have already published several posts on that interesting topic.  This post is about differentiating among “expert opinion” types.

We can differentiate between expert opinions delivered in court of justice and expert opinions disseminated by the “talking heads” in the news media; you know those in the rosters of the news media who are supposedly considered experts in particular political, financial, economic, or social “Hot Topics”.

Both kinds of experts earn a living from their opinions and they have a long CV of credentials, but they differ in their levels of “professionalism” and activism.

For example, the courts admit forensic experts (professional in engineering related fields) because their opinions resolve 90% of the cases before they are brought to justice:  Those expert mediators help reduce congestions and backlogs in courts.

What contribution could talking heads bring to mankind?

For example, most will agree that the expert opinions of Egyptians who are demonstrating and marching in the last two weeks, in every city  of Egypt, are far more convincing and carry higher weights and values than the opinions of Mubarak, his oligarchy, the western media, or the “moderate Arab” dictators, monarchs, theocrats, and one party regimes.

You can also agree that a forensic expert, ready to face examinations and cross-examinations in court is more convincing than a talking head opinion who is not willing to face the firing squad of a dictator for his opinions.

It boils down to the equation: “How much an expert is willing to challenge opinion takers by his actions, perseverance, activities for a cause, and versatile knowledge?”  It is a matter of “human factor” behind the opinion that makes a difference in credibility and acceptance of an expert opinion.

For example, if a community decides to have a blackout on cosmology, in learning, and pictures of planets and stars, then you can be assured that the new generation will believe as Facts that earth is the center of the universe, that the sun revolves around earth, and that earth is evidently FLAT.  The horrifying part of my conjecture is:  “It is very easy to test it“.

What we already know for facts are related to institutions transmitting these facts on a consistent basis.

Institutions, even oral customs for educating children in communities with dying languages, are purposely established to disseminate consensus opinions by the standing power that is running the community.

Professional organizations in all fields of leaning and practices are examples of institutions with objectives of  keeping alive opinions agreed upon to be facts.

Professional organizations and institutions are the last defensive barriers or bastions against the onslaught of paradigm shifts in the fields of knowledge.

Even personal experiences are not immune to changes and to be revisited, as life progresses in varied experience and knowledge:  Experiences that were considered to leave landmark impacts on our impressions, our views, and opinions could be toned down later on, and even literally forgotten. And vice versa with personal experiences that were not judged of much impact in matter of lasting impressions and effects.

Anyone who believes that facts are “stand alone” truths (not in a legal sense) is missing the powerful reality of how life processes can change and alter most of everything, in our knowledge and sets of facts and opinions.

In general, it is the youth and the lazy in the mind who hold absolute conviction in their positions and opinions.

Statistics are not facts and are not neutral:  They are funded and backed by interested parties.

Statistics are fundamentally biased, no matter how “scientifically conducted” the technique is claimed.   You have to realize that the scientific community has set up rigorous rules and set of regulations on how to conduct “peer-reviewed” experiments or research.

Basically, a consensus opinion among the majority of the professionals who have standing power established the scientific procedures and rules to claim which results are facts.

Not only the design of the experiment has to be satisfactory, but the procedures and processes of running the experiment, collecting data, and controlling the confounding variables that may affect the results.  You have to use a statistical computer package to statistically analyze the data, which means you have to agree that the mathematical model is representative of the intended research, you have to take account of the level of significance relative to the seriousness of research, and then you have interpretations that are expert opinions in the final analysis. 

Tell me, how many research can pass all these stringent guidelines in order to claim that the results express facts?

There is a controversy for selecting the 5% significance level to claim that results cannot deny the hypothesis to be very plausible.  It appears that the notion of level of significant is very complex and demanding that researchers include a section explaining their selection of level of significance would be troublesome.

What if the “Claim is extraordinary”, wouldn’t it require extraordinary evidences?  We know that the most dangerous and important events are those falling at the extreme end of the bell-shaped probability:  Thus, if the claim is extraordinary then, the level of significance should be in the 1% range and a special section in the research paper must explain it.

All it takes is a biased step in the experiment in order to have doubt on a proclaimed fact.

Who is to investigate every experiments?

What profession can claim to have the means and the will to double-check the procedures of every experiment or repeat the experiment with an independent team of researchers?  In that case, it is a matter of expert opinions, even if the results were supposed to be accepted as facts.

If you cause is to support the rights of people, you better test again the methods used to taking the statistics and formulate your own framework for controlling the variability.

No facts come the easy way; and they are not “stand alone” immutable facts that time and effort cannot alter. It takes purposeful efforts, time, and determination to untangle complex interactions among human associations.

Facts are the work of willing people in their drive to change current opinions and consensus that disfavor the majority of people in their survival and dignity.

Someone commented on Krishnamurti quote saying: “My view is that all books are written from a point of view, movies are worse, but books telling us about Christ, Buddha, Krishna… Teachings were not written by them, so there’s truth in their teachings but the books can add or delete some views.” This comment is confusing and not standing up properly; since when teachings, not written by the concerned people, may harbor truth, particularly since teaching is a point of view? Most probably, the comment was meant to be read “so there isn’t truth in their teaching…”

Facts are too boring and uninteresting to people; besides, even when someone claims that what he stated is a fact or an observation, people do not believe him unless he shows his “credentials”, meaning that he is close to be recognized as a prophet…

People are far more interested in opinions so that discussions are heated up.

People want to communicate impressions and feeling.

People throw around pieces of facts just to start a dialogue and impress the audience.

There are no “stand alone” facts and opinions:  They are dependent on the “human factors”.

It takes bribing a “credible” eminent personality to express some hesitation to a fact and then enticing an ignorant to vehemently second the credible person for doubt to taking roots.

Professionals who disseminate falsehoods appreciate this technique and apply it consistently.

How many people have the necessary knowledge to read research studies and criticize them judiciously as appropriate for enhancing knowledge?

Who has the patience to critique every article stating that “it is based on facts”?

Scientists have been claiming in the last 30 years that sciences were stranger than science-fiction stories.  So far, the interviewers and the respondents did not attempt to clarify what is meant by “strange” before extending answers and comments.  So far, we have no clear idea what is meant by “science”; are we talking of natural sciences (labeled hard sciences) or are we including human and social sciences such as biology, neuroscience, psychology, medicine…

For example, with the launching of space programs in the late 70’s, many editors of science-fictions complained that actual space programs have pictured space trips fictions as redundant.

It appears that what is meant by science is hard science.  Sciences, meaning natural sciences or “hard sciences”, are so far stranger than science-fiction stories.  Why?

First, sciences are not backed up by any validation process by people, not even by advanced technology:  A few people are specialized and involved in sciences, while most common people take the words of scientists for granted for a single day, until they read or hear other alternative “truths or facts”.  Science-fictions are supported by narrative logic and fictitious rationality, made easy to understand by well-written stories.

Second, Scientists claim that sciences are neutral.  I don’t think anyone can get excited by such neutral approach that disturb their state of mind, though scientists are big liars in matter of neutrality. Science-fictions are based on current frustration, disorientation, doubts, fear… And thus, are not neutral:  They extend a release valve to believing in a better future.

Third, Sciences talk about cosmology, nano particles, expansion of the universe, quantum mechanics, relativity theory, chaos theory…Not of any concern to common people.  Science-fictions describe possibilities of living in different societies, customs, highly man-made environment managed and controlled by robots.  Science-fictions extend our horizon and forces us to re-evaluate our values and the meaning of man and life.

Fourth, Sciences are no longer driving technology advances.  Technology is short-circuiting sciences and has reduced sciences to an “after-thought” validation of a technological invention or processes by trying to explaining why the technology actually works.  Technology is interested in explaining how it works:  Just try to comprehend the manuals of how any device function.  Common people do not care why a device works and are ready to experiment and use it, even if safety and health factors were not investigated and tested before the release of a version.  Science-fictions try to describe why and how in layman terms, and the implication of technology in our daily life; its consequences in our near future.

Five, Sciences are boring and insipid for common people, while science-fictions is here to last in our dreams.

Sixth, Sciences are done within clubs of professionals reading “peer-reviewed” articles, while science-fiction authors communicate with many sources of intelligence and audience:  Safety, health, survival are more important in how heroes and protagonists interacts in the story.

Seventh, sciences are not perceived as factors for change; technology and science-fictions are.  Science-fictions are admitted to be literature for change; a literature that catalyze children to growing in radically different worlds from their parents.

Eight, technology gave science-fictions a big boost via video games and new kinds of movies such as “Star War”, “Matrix”, and the 3D versions.  Sciences do not appear to have made an impact on imagination of science-fiction authors.

Science-fictions were originally based on theories of hard sciences, particularly on mechanical inventions…  It is no surprise that transistors and computer technologies were not predicted in science-fictions:  When Galvani experimented on the reactions of muscles in frogs in the 18th century, applying electrical impulses or shock, it was done on live subjects and in a period when all inventions were focused on mechanical devices, manufacturing mass production tools for the “industrial age”, and boosting colonial expansions… For example, all Jules Verne fictions invariably considered the original people as second grade species good for extermination if they retard “colonial development”…

Suppose the question was: “What is stranger: Social sciences or science-fictions?”  I bet that both common people and social scientists will admit that science-fiction is far stranger.  Why?  Everyone of us consider himself expert in psychology and sociology based on personal experiences, even if based on a single experience that hurts deeply.

In any case, what we call science-fictions nowadays refer to predicting social and human transformations as well as organizational and control mechanisms.  Hard science is not exciting and has stopped inspiring science-fiction authors’ imagination.

I created a new graduate course for students about ready to start finding a PhD proposal.  The idea was to facilitating the task in matter of topics that a student might feel more inclined to selecting for further investigation.  The purpose was initiating graduate students to openly extending feedback to their colleagues and to learn asking the right questions.  The method was getting aware of the various scientific methods available in approaching and resolving problems.

The course intended for each student to researching four topics, among peer-reviewed articles:  Two in different engineering or scientific disciplines and two in social sciences fields of study.  Each topic will be followed up by another supporting or related subject article to be presented in each session.  The final two sessions were reserved for the presentation of a definite topic that students have decided for submitting draft proposals.  That proposal had nothing to do with the advisor’s line of research, but the student would greatly benefit if he shared his interest with his advisor.

There are a few graduate students who directly resume and build upon their MS thesis, saving many years of searching and suffering.  Those particular students were welcomed and encouraged to enroll in the class:  The only condition is that the “potential proposal” presented in the last two sessions should be different from the proposed thesis.  The rational is for a graduate student to learn flexibility in focusing on several topics of research:  The opportunity for that kind of research diversity and availability of alternative perspectives will be rare to come by in a “professional environment” later on.

I got the phone numbers of students and did call them during the semester to follow-up on their academic progress and behaviors.  Students were not forbidden to calling me up:  I lack time and resources for additional tasks that end up within the psychological domain of expertise.

For example, two days after each session, I would reserve an hour to calling up the students with sample questions such as: “Did you find an article? What is the title? You don’t remember the title then you may fill me on the subject matter.  You cannot because you had no time to browse through the article?  What if the day before the session you realized that the title was misleading?  What if the article does not involve any experiment?  You have a few more important courses to focus on?  Define me what is “more important”….

In the first session, I distributed sample articles in many fields, disciplines, and experimental methods.  The articles were distributed in random to students.  I select one student to read his selected article to class.  Actually, every session requires a student to reading to class.

The next session is basically a “looking dumb” experiment:  First, all students were confused explaining new topics they were not familiar with; second, they had no idea what kind of questions to ask that made sense to them; and third, the most important factor, every student was considering the backlash of the other students when his turn comes to present his article.  The student is saying: “If I ask corny questions then, the other students will get their revenge and harass me pretty good.  Let me go through this course in the most advantageous peace of mind.”

Fact is, most students have not be exposed to any kind of “experimental design” courses; they had no idea what is meant by dependent variables, independent variables, control variables, or confounding variable…  The students manipulated equations for years but have no idea what they are manipulating and how to discriminate among the variables.  Students sat in lab courses and still have no idea of experimental methods.

The students are smart, but the logic for designing experiment and controlling variables or factors is not familiar to them:  This logic requires training and frequent initiations.  I tend to believe that knowledge of designing experiments is the basic common denominator method in sciences, whether hard or soft sciences.  I am bewildered that most engineering and scientific fields do not require a single course in the logic or philosophy of designing experiments.  How can any professional comprehend articles outside his domain if he is not initiated to designing experiments?

I gave more weight to social sciences articles because they were sources of demonstrating the far more complex experiments that social scientist are confronted with:  The hundreds of human variables to control in order not to end up with confounding results that ruin months of assiduous work.

Most probably, my course was designed to initiate students on methods of designing experiments before it is too late when approaching their thesis:  It is a way of encouraging the students to enrolling in “design of experiments” courses, even if not required (which was generally the case in engineering and sciences).

I used to retain two students after each session and give them each an article to read.  The following session delivers what I expected:  half the follow-up articles were identical to the one I handed the two students with comical excuses of how they related to their original topic.

The third session was meant to overcoming barriers erected between the presenter and the other students.  Anyway, one of the main objectives of this course is asking openly the right questions with the purpose of comprehending another topic and learning to focus on the presentation instead of worrying on “when is my turn and how stupid will I look?”  This objective must be the hardest to achieving and the most useful, if successful, to a professional career.

Note:  This post is a fictional short story on teaching methods.

Is it you sprout a piece of memory here and there, now and then?

It is hard to chew on the adage in Ecclesiastes that “all is vain” on the premise that we are doomed to die anyway.

How many generations mankind needed to suffer and struggle in order to climb down from trees and then walk on two?

How many generations did mankind need to sprout a piece of memory here and there before fabricating a hand tool?

How many generations before this hand tool was mass-produced?

How many generations to communicating verbally?

How many genration to learning to write?

If pain is far more powerful than life, love, dignity, and loyalty then, how mankind specie managed to barely survive over a million of generations?

Even in the last century, life expectancy was no longer than 40 years:  People died of normal diseases (small-pox, measles…), and all kinds of pains lingered for many years without effective pain killers or any convincing remedies (think of the favored blood-letting method).

What happened that, in just the last four generations, mankind moved from fabricating tools into this world of instant communication facilities, including images and video, and in “streaming” platforms?

Certainly mankind’s brain must have changed, altered, and added a few pieces of hardware to make this qualitative jump!

When scientist throw numbers in the billion and trillion of neurons and synapses in the brain then, you know that efforts are lacking into investigating any additional thousands of neurons and synapses in every new generation.

Certainly the hardware of our current brain has changed in many ways and it is urgent to know how, how much, and why.

Mankind had been observing and recording data from time immemorial since he mastered the written languages, but mostly, mankind has been pondering and working on premises that could not be validated or experimented with (namely measuring the variables).  Galileo said:” measure what can be measured and then, learn to measure what could not be measured”.

In the last four centuries, scientists have been analyzing simple data of simple experiments (mainly, one independent and one dependent (or data) variables and then matching data to a simple equation.)

Then, in 1920, scientific methods for designing complex experiments could be performed because a method for analyzing data was available to scientists: working on the variability of errors (after controlling for consistent errors or confounding variables).

This method might not be that convincing, but it was something to start with.  After the invention of computers, a paradigm shift occurred that says: “collect data and let data talk and reveal the relationships among variables or factors.”

Since then, all kinds of statistical programs have been written to mine abundant data, analyzing them, jugling with far many interrelated variables (interconnection), and then interpreting them.  Instead of cause and effects relationship we frequently hear of correlations.

Fast digital communication and efficient transmission of data and studies have allowed scientists to select vast amount of research studies and data and then evaluate a trend in any subject matter.

Thus, scientists felt inclined to accepting results and conclusions on theories and hypotheses based on the excuse that research studies are peer-reviewed and professional publishers must have validated the reliability and accuracy of data and information.

We have reached a stage that many scientists don’t even bother to using statistical analysis methods or validating experiments:  They are confident relying on the already acquired “scientific evidences and procedures“.

The second qualitative jump is creating sophisticated precision measuring tools and precision manufacturing facilities based on digital computing.

The generations of the 40’s and 50’s had the most exciting and tougher times of all generations:  They lived to witness a halucinating quantity of new inventions that they barely could fathom or use in timely fashion, conmmensurate with the quick stream on the market of new inventions and products.  Any problems using the consumer products? No problem:  We will ponder on these difficulties (after hundreds have been injured and harmed.)

Do you think I went into a tangent?

Let me refocuse on the intended purpose of this article.  Is it too tough chewing on the adage “all is vain in this life?”

Large communication and transmission highways to connecting with people and trends have been established.

First, this mentality of marketing products and services has strengthened the concept “You cannot succeed unless the masses rally to your product.”

Thus, catering to the vast majority of the population is the first step toward other more impotant advances into reducing pain, suffering, famine, and poor economic statuses.  Every one has to be able to afford certain consumer products in order for companies to outpace competitors.

If hungry people can have facilities to communicate and acquire the ability to connect with this illusory world of their’s then, at least hope of being integrated to other populations can come to the rescue of this wretched life.

Forget ethics, moral, and political rights of the downtrodden.

If they can be saved from famine and pain for economic reasons then, invest in poorer States and the poorer classes.  At least, this attitude cannot be vanity under any twisting of the mind.

Note: you may read my previous articles: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/new-generation-newer-brain-structure/


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2020
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Blog Stats

  • 1,440,133 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 783 other followers

%d bloggers like this: