UC Press is excited to feature several of our new groundbreaking Middle Eastern History & Studies titles for #MESA2020.
A History of People in the Line of Fire
by Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini
Describing the use of human shields in key historical and contemporary moments across the globe, Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini demonstrate how the increasing weaponization of human beings has made the position of civilians trapped in theaters of violence more precarious and their lives more expendable. They show how the law facilitates the use of lethal violence against vulnerable people while portraying it as humane, but they also reveal how people can and do use their own vulnerability to resist violence and denounce forms of dehumanization. Ultimately, Human Shields unsettles our common ethical assumptions about violence and the law and urges us to imagine entirely new forms of humane politics.
Generations of Women’s Activism in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon
by Nicola Pratt
When women took to the streets during the mass protests of the Arab Spring, the subject of feminism in the Middle East and North Africa returned to the international spotlight. In the subsequent years, countless commentators treated the region’s gender inequality as a consequence of fundamentally cultural or religious problems. In so doing, they overlooked the specifically political nature of these women’s activism. Moving beyond such culturalist accounts, this book turns to the relations of power in regional and international politics to understand women’s struggles for their rights.
How Coal Made the Middle East and Sparked Global Carbonization
by On Barak
Focusing on the flow of British carbon energy to the Middle East, On Barak excavates the historic nexus between coal and empire to reveal the political and military motives behind what is conventionally seen as a technological innovation. He provocatively recounts the carbon-intensive entanglements of Western and non-Western powers and reveals unfamiliar resources—such as Islamic risk-aversion and Gandhian vegetarianism—for a climate justice that relies on more diverse and ethical solutions worldwide.
Istanbul, City of the Fearless
Urban Activism, Coup d’Etat, and Memory in Turkey
by Christopher Houston
Based on extensive field research in Turkey, Istanbul, City of the Fearless explores social movements and the broader practices of civil society in Istanbul in the critical years before and after the 1980 military coup, the defining event in the neoliberal reengineering of the city. Bringing together developments in anthropology, urban studies, cultural geography, and social theory, Christopher Houston offers new insights into the meaning and study of urban violence, military rule, activism and spatial tactics, relations between political factions and ideologies, and political memory and commemoration. This book is both a social history and an anthropological study, investigating how activist practices and the coup not only contributed to the globalization of Istanbul beginning in the 1980s but also exerted their force and influence into the future.
Muhammad and the Empires of Faith
The Making of the Prophet of Islam
by Sean W. Anthony
In Muhammad and the Empires of Faith, Sean W. Anthony demonstrates how critical readings of non-Muslim and Muslim sources in tandem can breathe new life into the historical study of Muhammad and how his message transformed the world. By placing these sources within the intellectual and cultural world of Late Antiquity, Anthony offers a fresh assessment of the earliest sources for Muhammad’s life, taking readers on a grand tour of the available evidence, and suggests what new insights stand to be gained from the techniques and methods pioneered by countless scholars over the decades in a variety of fields. Muhammad and the Empires of Faith offers both an authoritative introduction to the multilayered traditions surrounding the life of Muhammad and a compelling exploration of how these traditions interacted with the broader landscape of Late Antiquity.
Conversion to Islam in the Premodern Age
edited by Nimrod Hurvitz, Christian C. Sahner, Uriel Simonsohn, and Luke Yarbrough
Conversion to Islam is a phenomenon of immense significance in human history. At the outset of Islamic rule in the seventh century, Muslims constituted a tiny minority in most areas under their control. But by the beginning of the modern period, they formed the majority in most territories from North Africa to Southeast Asia. Across such diverse lands, peoples, and time periods, conversion was a complex, varied phenomenon. Converts lived in a world of overlapping and competing religious, cultural, social, and familial affiliations, and the effects of turning to Islam played out in every aspect of life. Conversion therefore provides a critical lens for world history, magnifying the constantly evolving array of beliefs, practices, and outlooks that constitute Islam around the globe. This groundbreaking collection of texts, translated from sources in a dozen languages from the seventh to the eighteenth centuries, presents the historical process of conversion to Islam in all its variety and unruly detail, through the eyes of both Muslim and non-Muslim observers.
Crossing Confessional Boundaries
Exemplary Lives in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Traditions
by John Renard
Arguably the single most important element in Abrahamic cross-confessional relations has been an ongoing mutual interest in perennial spiritual and ethical exemplars of one another’s communities. Ranging from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages, Crossing Confessional Boundaries explores the complex roles played by saints, sages, and Friends of God in the communal and intercommunal lives of Christians, Muslims, and Jews across the Mediterranean world, from Spain and North Africa to the Middle East to the Balkans. By examining these stories in their broad institutional, social, and cultural contexts, Crossing Confessional Boundaries reveals unique theological insights into the interlocking histories of the Abrahamic faiths.
Reason and Revelation in Byzantine Antioch
The Christian Translation Program of Abdallah ibn al-Fadl
by Alexandre M. Roberts
What happened to ancient Greek thought after Antiquity? What impact did Abrahamic religions have on medieval Byzantine and Islamic scholars who adapted and reinvigorated this ancient philosophical heritage? Reason and Revelation in Byzantine Antioch tackles these questions by examining the work of the eleventh-century Christian theologian Abdallah ibn al-Fadl, who undertook an ambitious program of translating Greek texts, ancient and contemporary, into Arabic. Poised between the Byzantine Empire that controlled his home city of Antioch and the Arabic-speaking cultural universe of Syria-Palestine, Egypt, Aleppo, and Iraq, Ibn al-Fadl engaged intensely with both Greek and Arabic philosophy, science, and literary culture. Challenging the common narrative that treats Christian and Muslim scholars in almost total isolation from each other in the Middle Ages, Alexandre M. Roberts reveals a shared culture of robust intellectual curiosity in the service of tradition that has had a lasting role in Eurasian intellectual history.
Masculinity, Disability, and Political Violence in Turkey
by Salih Can Aciksoz
Sacrificial Limbs chronicles the everyday lives and political activism of disabled veterans of Turkey’s Kurdish war, one of the most volatile conflicts in the Middle East. Through nuanced ethnographic portraits, Açiksöz examines how veterans’ experiences of war and disability are closely linked to class, gender, and ultimately the embrace of ultranationalist right-wing politics. Bringing the reader into military hospitals, commemorations, political demonstrations, and veterans’ everyday spaces of care, intimacy, and activism, Sacrificial Limbs provides a vivid analysis of the multiple and sometimes contradictory forces that fashion veterans’ bodies, political subjectivities, and communities. It is essential reading for students and scholars interested in anthropology, masculinity, and disability.
Arab Modernism as World Cinema
The Films of Moumen Smihi
by Peter Limbrick
Arab Modernism as World Cinema explores the radically beautiful films of Moroccan filmmaker Moumen Smihi, demonstrating the importance of Moroccan and Arab film cultures in histories of world cinema. Addressing the legacy of the Nahda or “Arab Renaissance” of the nineteenth and early twentieth century—when Arab writers and artists reenergized Arab culture by engaging with other languages and societies—Peter Limbrick argues that Smihi’s films take up the spirit of the Nahda for a new age. Examining Smihi’s oeuvre, which enacts an exchange of images and ideas between Arab and non-Arab cultures, Limbrick rethinks the relation of Arab cinema to modernism and further engages debates about the use of modernist forms by filmmakers in the Global South. This original study offers new routes for thinking about world cinema and modernism in the Middle East and North Africa, and about Arab cinema in the world.
Identity in Exile
by Loren D. Lybarger
Chicago is home to one of the largest, most politically active Palestinian immigrant communities in the United States. For decades, secular nationalism held sway as the dominant political ideology, but since the 1990s its structures have weakened and Islamic institutions have gained strength. Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interview data, Palestinian Chicago charts the origins of these changes and the multiple effects they have had on identity across religious, political, class, gender, and generational lines. The perspectives that emerge through this rich ethnography challenge prevailing understandings of secularity and religion, offering critical insight into current debates about immigration and national belonging.
The City and the Wilderness
Indo-Persian Encounters in Southeast Asia
by Arash Khazeni
The City and the Wilderness recounts the journeys and microhistories of Indo-Persian travelers across the Indian Ocean and their encounters with the Burmese Kingdom and its littoral at the turn of the nineteenth century. As Mughal sovereignty waned under British colonial rule, Indo-Persian travelers and intermediaries linked to the East India Company explored and surveyed the Burmese Empire, inscribing it as a forest landscape and Buddhist kingdom at the crossroads of South and Southeast Asia. Based on colonial Persian travel books and narratives in which Indo-Persian knowledge and perceptions of the wondrous edges of the Indian Ocean merged with Orientalist pursuits, The City and the Wilderness uncovers fading histories of inter-Asian crossings and exchanges at the ends of the Mughal world.
Modern Painting and Politics in Syria
by Anneka Lenssen
In modern Syria, a contested territory at the intersection of differing regimes of political representation, artists ventured to develop strikingly new kinds of painting to link their images to life forces and agitated energies. Examining the works of artists Kahlil Gibran, Adham Ismail, and Fateh al-Moudarres, Beautiful Agitation explores how painters in Syria activated the mutability of form to rethink relationships of figure to ground, outward appearance to inner presence, and self to world. Drawing on archival materials in Syria and beyond, Anneka Lenssen reveals new trajectories of painterly practice in a twentieth century defined by shifting media technologies, moving populations, and the imposition of violently enforced nation-state borders. The result is a study of Arab modernism that foregrounds rather than occludes efforts to agitate against imposed identities and intersubjective relations.