Destroying Yemen: Brothers and Friends Alike, Where Art Thou?

This guest post is part of our MESA blog series published in conjunction with the meeting of the Middle East Studies Association in Washington, D.C., Nov. 18-21. #MESA2017DC


By Isa Blumi, author of Destroying Yemen What Chaos in Arabia Tells Us about the World, forthcoming January 2018

I wrote Destroying Yemen with the fumes of anger, frustration, and resignation still potent; friends, family, and enemies alike got whiff and knew to stay away. I cannot help, with now almost 1000 days of incessant violence directed at 18 million Yemenis, to feel my initial, and interim inspiration to write, has any hope of changing a thing. Indeed, it was my conclusion, somewhat reconfirmed in light of the recent events in the region, that ultimately my frustration, fear, and outrage cannot offer much support to the real corrective force of Yemeni resistance. As this book begins its journey as part of a public discussion over what has happened in South Arabia, I hope, therefore, to initiate not only an exchange of reactions, denunciations, and snide competitiveness, but an acceptance to ask broader questions about just what we are doing when writing about Yemen, the larger region, and indeed world.

In much of this effort to account for why Destroying Yemen constitutes the concluding strategic calculation of hitherto obscured global interests, I have tried to identify historic roots, as much as future consequences, to chaos in South Arabia. I believe it is not a regional issue, confined to an arena secured by think-tankers or regional experts. Rather, the destruction of Yemen, as a project, an agenda, a frustrated last-ditch strategic shift, implicates a much broader array of interested parties. This is a war with deep roots, reflective of ideologies that expected, demanded, and justified violence to impose an entirely self-serving process of wealth sequestration. Yemen for decades, in other words, has been at the forefront of globalist projects that objectified Yemen’s millions as collateral to a more potent concern with the natural resources that lay under their feet.

Like most scholars working on the region, I fell in love with Yemen. I had the good fortune to experience Yemen as it just became a unified potential reality in the early 1990s. Traveling the breadth of this stunning land, my wish to keep it entirely romantic could not resist, in the end, the intellectual potential of my growing interests. In Yemen, I recognized counter-narratives that begged for deeper analysis. As evident in Destroying Yemen, I refuse, for example, to surrender the relevance of the Ottoman story in Yemen’s modern story; and in this book, I feel I have made my most emphatic case yet for just how crucial it is to bring historic depth to what are clearly not uniquely (post)modern phenomena. Indeed, Yemen’s destruction is so systematic, so deep a crime, largely because of Yemeni resistance to Empire (be it Ottoman and British, or non-governmental agencies empowered by a mission enshrined in neo-liberal discourse). In this respect, I wrote a book that is contemporary as much as historically revisionist.

And yet, I write while millions are going hungry, dying of cholera, and terrorized (but not defeated) by bombs made in the United States, France, Britain, and Sweden. In this light, I end this blog post as I end my book:

… there has been little to admire from the world’s entanglements with beautiful Yemen. In the end, we must conclude that the imprint of would be global hegemons’ ambitions on Yemen takes its most enduring form in graves, bombed medieval cities, and a whimper from starving children no one wants to hear. And with this stark reality, I have nothing left to do. This in the end is just a book.


Isa Blumi is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish Studies at Stockholm University. In addition to Destroying Yemen What Chaos in Arabia Tells Us about the World he is the author of Ottoman Refugees, 1878–1939, Foundations of Modernity, and Reinstating the Ottomans.


We Live in a Culture of Commentary

This guest post is published in conjunction with the annual meetings of the Middle Eastern Studies Association in Washington, DC and the American Academy of Religion in Boston, MA, both taking place November 18-21. #MESA2017DC &  #AARSBL17


By Joel Blecher, author of Said the Prophet of God: Hadith Commentary across a Millennium

In many ways, we live in the age of commentary. It seems like every cough, sneeze, and throat clearing is swiftly rendered into text, algorithmically circulated across social media, and subject to endless comments from every perspective. A pundit on every phone, a guru in every garage, and an interpreter on every internet browser.

And yet, our commentarial culture, when viewed historically, is remarkably constrained. Terse, even. We even have a phrase for it: “hot takes,” instant reactions that would seem to tap into humanity’s stream of consciousness in a hundred and forty characters or less. Two-hundred and eighty if you’re lucky.

I have spent the last seven years studying a very different culture of commentary—commentary on Muhammad’s sayings or practices, called hadith. While similar to our contemporary commentarial culture in many respects—a key hub of social and intellectual life—hadith commentaries were multi-volume works of art, monuments to knowledge that required deep learning and decades of training and continuous revision. Commentators dedicated their lives to commenting on a collection of hadith—often passing away before they could complete their work—and meticulously crafted their texts to speak not only to their present, but across long periods of time. These commentaries were built for a kind of time travel—their authors bundled up into quires of paper and ink all of the knowledge they could find in the hopes that readers on the other side of the globe and centuries into the distant future might find some benefit in them. While many perished, the greatest ones actually succeeded, and are still read assiduously today.

I first discovered my interest in hadith commentary when I was invited to attend a live commentary session in Damascus, Syria in 2009. The commentator had spent seven years explaining a single hadith collection, and was only a third of the way through explaining the entire work. Attended by hundreds of students from across the globe, the commentator drew on a rich tradition of commentaries from classical Andalusia, medieval Egypt, and modern India to illuminate the meaning of the hadith for his present audiences. Emulating the practices of his predecessors, he read each hadith aloud, and used each word or phrase to digress on almost every aspect of the human experience. But when I returned to Princeton later that year to begin my doctoral research, I found that virtually nothing had been published on this complex and multi-layered tradition. I could not even find an entry dedicated to the subject in the Encyclopedia of Islam.

After a little digging into the sources, it became clear just how important and exciting this understudied field was. A quick search yielded hundreds of hadith commentaries produced over a thousand years, and each one told a unique story. A hadith commentary sparked public furors in 11th-century Andalusia. In Egypt in the 14th and 15th centuries, live hadith commentary sessions were the stage for spectacular and sometimes destructive rivalries among Muslim chief justices, while the sultans and emirs in attendance doled out gifts, jobs, and even tax breaks. The tradition found new life in British India in the age of print and mass literacy, and Urdu and English commentators emerged to address the political challenges of colonialism but also to solve intellectual problems that, they claimed, their pre-modern predecessors had missed.

Said the Prophet of God tells the story of this living tradition across a millennium, and I hope it will be clear why it deserves more than a “hot take.” As a central hub of Islamic social and intellectual life, the story of how Muslims interpreted and reinterpreted hadith has been a missing piece in the academy’s patchwork understanding of Islam and Islamic history. But this tradition is too vast for a single book or a single scholar to undertake. My hope is that this book spurs on future students and scholars to begin to mine this vast literature. In that spirit, Said the Prophet of God does not pretend to offer the last word on the subject, but rather an introduction to further debate, questions, and commentary.


Joel Blecher is Assistant Professor of History at George Washington University. His writings have appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Oriens, and the Atlantic

Said the Prophet of God explores the rich social and intellectual life of hadith commentary and offers new avenues for the study of religion, history, anthropology, and law.

 

 


Women’s Rights in Afghanistan: Strategic Dilemmas

This guest post is part of our MESA blog series published in conjunction with the meeting of the Middle East Studies Association in Washington, D.C., Nov. 18-21. #MESA2017DC


By Torunn Wimpelmann, author of The Pitfalls of Protection: Gender, Violence, and Power in Afghanistan

A few days ago, on the 11th of November 2017, Afghan Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh proudly presented his country’s new penal code. To most legal scholars, justice officials and aid workers it was a moment of satisfaction. Afghanistan’s last penal code was issued in 1976 and outdated. Moreover, since 2001, when the country became awash with expatriate advisors, a large number of standalone codes with criminal provisions had been promulgated, mostly by presidential decree. Regulating issues such as anti-narcotics, money laundering and terrorism, these new codes had been produced in isolation from the overall legal framework, but all (un)conveniently contained a clause stating that it abrogated any other law in contradiction to it, ( and on many occasions there were indeed contradictions, sometimes multiple). Judges was required to refer to ever-increasing number of laws containing criminal provisions, (some fifty according to one estimation) and so the idea of creating a new comprehensive penal code appeared a sensible one.

But one law has not been incorporated into the new code. The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women ( EVAW Law) will continue to exist as a stand alone piece of legislation, due to some considerations, as the Vice President said. He did not elaborate further but in my book The Pitfalls of Protection, Gender Violence and Power in Afghanistan, the EVAW law features centrally, as it has done in the gender politics of Afghanistan over the last decade and a half. To follow the trajectory of the law, how it was conceived, promoted, contested, and (partly) implemented is to travel alongside some of the major political, religious, sexual and ideological faultlines of the order erected upon the US-led invasion in 2001.

The law, criminalizing 22 acts as violence against women was conceived in 2005. After a series of strategic and substantial battles within the country’s women’s movement, it was enacted as a presidential decree four years later. The EVAW law failed however to be ratified in parliament where conservative MPs denounced it as an anti-Islamic, foreign product and objected in particular to the law’s criminalization of underage and forced marriage, as well as certain forms of wife beating and polygamy. As such, the law had an unclear legal standing, but was nonetheless celebrated as an historical achievement by many in Afghanistan, both Afghan women’s activists and their allies in Western embassies who had been important in securing the law’s enactment. For years now, despite its ambiguous status as a decree, the law has been the focus of a massive implementation apparatus underwritten by development aid.

But not without some controversy. The conservative parliament aside, legal scholars argued that the law had technical flaws and unclear terminology, and that women’s protection would be better served by merging its provisions into the upcoming comprehensive penal code, which would anyway be the main reference point for judges henceforth. Yet, supporters of the law refused, arguing that to dispossess Afghan women of the law especially dedicated to them would be a reactionary move and a setback for women’s protection. The position reflected the particularities under which women’s rights advocates had been working in post-2001 Afghanistan. Both enabled and disabled by the international presence, which had offered them unprecedented political leverage yet also strengthened both Islamist actors and resentment to foreign influence more generally, many women activists seized on opportunities to get (sometimes discretely) progressive frameworks and institutions in place with the help of external allies and untainted by compromises with more conservative national actors. Whether this strategy will stand the test of time remains to be seen. One indicator will be whether the EVAW law will be applied alongside the new penal code, or fade into irrelevance as a mainly symbolic item and a product of a particular era.


Torunn Wimpelmann is a researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute.

The Pitfalls of Protection is published in University of California Press’s Luminos open access book program. Click here to download a free digital copy.

Sign up for the Luminos eNewsletter to learn more about future Luminos publications and other Luminos news.


Meet Us at MESA. Save 40% on These Titles in Middle Eastern Studies

If you’re headed to the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association this week in Washington, D.C. (Nov. 18-21), be sure to visit UC Press at booth #21 for a 40% discount. Our recent titles in Middle Eastern studies encourage understanding of the region, its politics, and its histories, offering a wide variety of topics appropriate for your research or classroom use.

Take early advantage of the conference discount and start saving today.  Visit our MESA page to browse these titles and more

Throughout the conference, follow along on our blog as we share guest posts from our authors. #MESA2017DC


Academic Freedom in the Era of Trump

By Sunaina Maira, author of Boycott! The Academy and Justice for Palestine

This guest post is part of the ASA blog series published in conjunction with the meeting of the American Studies Association in Chicago, IL Nov. 9-12—and as part of blog series of contributions by authors in the new series American Studies Now.


Something unthinkable happened in the United States in the last few years: hundreds of academics, senior scholars, graduate students, and untenured faculty came forth in support of an academic boycott of Israel. Beginning in 2013, the movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions expanded rapidly with one major academic association after another endorsing the boycott and adopting resolutions in solidarity with the Palestinian call for an academic boycott.

But this movement emerged several years after Palestinian academics, intellectuals, and activists called for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel in 2004—and after years of military occupation, failed peace negotiations, ever-expanding and illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, ongoing home demolitions, the building of the Israeli Wall, repression, and military assaults. All of these events and the military occupation of Palestine itself have been endorsed, defended, and funded by Israel’s major global ally, the United States. The academic boycott and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement are thus embedded in a significant aspect of the U.S. political and historical relationship to the Middle East, and in a particular, cultural imaginary of Palestine, Palestinians, and Arabs in general, that has become an increasingly central concern of American studies.

I consider this progressive-left academic solidarity to be a potential expression of academic abolitionism. The notion of academic abolitionism is not focused on redeeming the U.S. academy—just as it is ultimately not focused on redemption for the U.S. imperial state—as much as it is ongoing beyond the liberal discourse of academic freedom to highlight other kinds of freedoms, and un-freedoms. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions that are complicit with occupation and apartheid is only one component of a larger politics of refusal grounded in academic abolitionism. An abolitionist view challenges the complicity of the U.S. academy with global militarism, carceral regimes, and settler colonial circuits of power, in which Israel is a key player.

Indeed, the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Trump’s victory spurred more vigorous and vocal progressive mobilization on campuses and in communities, with solidarity campaigns binding together movements against police violence and militarization, and for racial justice, immigrant rights and sanctuary, gender and sexual rights, indigenous sovereignty, environmental justice, and freedom in Palestine. The historic Women’s March in January 2017, which mobilized masses of people to come out in the streets against Trump after his inauguration, was called for by prominent feminist activists such as Angela Davis and Palestinian American Linda Sarsour, who have advocated for BDS as part of a feminist politics. The International Women’s Strike on March 8, 2017, explicitly included a call for “the decolonization of Palestine” in its platform, and for the dismantling of “all walls, from prison walls to border walls, from Mexico to Palestine.” These campaigns build on the solidarities that were created in previous years as the BDS movement made linkages with Black Lives Matter, the antiwar and prison abolition movement, labor unions, faith-based activists, and feminist and queer groups.

As “White supremacy” became a term permissible in discussions on major cable news networks about Trump and his alt-right followers, there were also growing conversations about Zionism, the ways it can become imbricated with anti-Semitism on the right, and the need to challenge racial supremacy and White privilege. Palestine has become central to all of these major contemporary debates and resistance movements. Omar Barghouti writes about the struggle for liberation, equality, and dignity waged through BDS:

The global BDS movement for Palestinian rights presents a progressive, antiracist, sophisticated, sustainable, moral, and effective form of nonviolent civil resistance. It has become one of the key political catalysts and moral anchors for a strengthened, reinvigorated international social movement capable of ending the law of the jungle and upholding in its stead the rule of law, reaffirming the rights of all humans to freedom, equality, and dignified living.

Our South Africa moment has finally arrived!

There really is no turning back.


Sunaina Maira is Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis.

Boycott! is available now as an e-book, and forthcoming in print.


Debuting at ASA 2017: American Studies Now, a New Series

Taking the 2017 American Studies Association conference by storm the new series edited by past presidents of the ASA American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present offers short, timely books on the issues that matter today.

“We need new ways to publish and distribute the work of American Studies scholars. The monograph and the journal article have a crucial role in our field, but they aren’t serving us well in the undergraduate classroom. And they aren’t putting our work into circulation in the pressing, scary political present. This new series is one new way to address those needs — short, accessible books on Black Lives Matter, climate change, neoliberalism, BDS, the continuing urban crisis, indigenous politics, queer and trans issues, the crises in higher education and more. They are designed to provide timely, provocative analysis for teaching, for activism, and for engagement now.”—Lisa Duggan, past president of the American Studies Association & co-editor of American Studies Now

Much of the most exciting contemporary work in American Studies refuses the distinction between politics and culture—focusing on historical cultures of power and protest on the one hand, or the political importance of cultural practices on the other. With a short production schedule, the titles in American Studies Now are able to cover these political and cultural intersections while such teachable moments are at the center of public conversation.

“Given the constant rush and hum of information in our social media saturated worlds, it’s easy to get stuck in the here and now in ways that make it difficult to take a critical perspective on where we are and how we got there. So American Studies Now reflects not only the urgency of the questions raised by each volume in the series but also suggests what we mean by critical histories of the present — scholarship that helps readers think about contemporary problems in terms of their larger historical, social, and cultural significance.”—Curtis Marez, past president of the American Studies Association & co-editor of American Studies Now

Learn more about this exciting, new series in this Q&A with series editors Lisa Duggan and Curtis Marez, and visit UC Press at booth 405 to browse the books. Heading to the conference? Be sure to check out the following session:

  • American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present
    Fri, November 10, 4:00 to 5:45pm
    With UC Press Executive Editor Niels Hooper, series editors Lisa Duggan and Curtis Marez, and series authors Scott Kurashige, Sunaina Maira, Barbara Ransby, Shelley Streeby, and Macarena Gomez-Barris
    View session details here

For more author sessions at ASA, and to see what else we’ll have on view, head here.


The Pitfalls of Predicting Afghan Gender Politics

by Torunn Wimpelmann, author of The Pitfalls of Protection

At UC Press, open access—the free, immediate, unrestricted, online access to peer-reviewed research and scholarly work—is central to our mission. In celebration of 2017 International Open Access Week (October 23-29), we are highlighting open access publishing initiatives at UC Press, including our Collabra and Luminos publishing programs. This year’s OA Week theme “Open in order to . . . ” is an invitation to answer the question of what concrete benefits can be realized by making scholarly publications openly available. Follow the full blog series here#OAWeek #OpenInOrderTo


I should have known better than to try to predict the forever shifting field of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Recently, a press release by the Afghan Ministry of Justice proved me wrong. In my book The Pitfalls of Protection, I had hazarded a guess that the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) , which many Afghan women’s rights activists had fought hard to keep as a separate piece of legislation would nonetheless be merged into the general Penal Code. But that guess had underestimated the strength of the activists. Despite opposition from large parts of the Afghan legal community, many diplomats and seemingly the Afghan President himself, the urgent press release assures the activists that the EVAW law will be kept a distinct law, as befitting its special status.

When I started my research in Afghanistan, in the summer of 2009, I was thrilled to hear that a new law specifically on violence against women was about to be presented to the Parliament. My plan had been to explore what counted as violations against women in Afghanistan—socially, politically and legally. To be able to observe parliamentary debates over exactly this question seemed like unusually lucky timing. Little did I know then how central this law would become to the gender politics in Afghanistan and that almost a decade later, its fate would still be undetermined.

The EVAW law, listing 22 acts as violence against women, was enacted as a presidential decree in 2009. Presented as a favor to women by then President Karzai, the law was refused ratification in the Afghan Parliament dominated by conservative religious actors with links to the newly rehabilitated mujahedin. The parliamentarians called it an anti-Islamic and foreign product. The law was nonetheless celebrated as a historical achievement by many in Afghanistan, both Afghan women’s activists and their allies in Western embassies. For years now, despite its ambiguous status as a decree, the law has been the focus of a massive implementation apparatus underwritten by development aid.

But not without some controversy. The conservative parliament aside, legal scholars argued that the law had technical flaws and unclear terminology, and that women’s protection would be better served by an upcoming comprehensive penal code that would incorporate the proliferating number of stand-alone criminal bills produced since 2001. By the time my book went to press, this position was gaining force, and some went as far as to accuse the supporters of the law of putting personal agendas above reason. Yet in the meantime, the supporters of a separate law have gained the upper hand.

The ongoing story of the EVAW law has women’s position in Afghanistan at its heart, yet it is also about much more than that. It’s about the source of law and moral and political authority in the country. It’s about the extreme contradictions of the unending US-led invasion, micromanaging gender equality on the one hand and empowering Islamists on the other. And it’s about the choices faced by feminists everywhere; do you seize your victories whenever you can find them, however imperfect or ill gotten, or do you prioritize perfection over timing, even if that risks pushing gains further down the horizon.


Torunn Wimpelmann is a researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute.

The Pitfalls of Protection is published in University of California Press’s Luminos open access book program. Click here to download a free digital copy of the book.

Sign up for the Luminos eNewsletter to learn more about future Luminos publications and other Luminos news.


Afghanistan’s Islam: Much More Than the Taliban

by Nile Green, author of Afghanistan’s Islam: From Conversion to the Taliban

At UC Press, open access—the free, immediate, unrestricted, online access to peer-reviewed research and scholarly work—is central to our mission. In celebration of 2017 International Open Access Week (October 23-29), we are highlighting open access publishing initiatives at UC Press, including our Collabra and Luminos publishing programs. This year’s OA Week theme “Open in order to . . . ” is an invitation to answer the question of what concrete benefits can be realized by making scholarly publications openly available. Follow the full blog series here#OAWeek #OpenInOrderTo


In the years after 9/11, perhaps no country in the world became more inextricably associated with Islam than Afghanistan. Book after book was published—about mujahidin and Taliban, Bin Laden and Tora Bora—in which Islam was ever present but never explained. After all, how did Afghanistan become a hotbed for such extreme expressions of Islam; and were things always religiously that way?

Having written a good deal about the history of Islam in the surrounding regions, I decided to fill what was evidently a big gap in our understanding. Not that there were no previous studies: many recondite articles lie scattered in learned journals from Palo Alto to Peshawar. But they leave many holes in the coverage. And what’s always been lacking is a chronological account of the development of Islam in Afghanistan, from the region’s initial conversion from Hinduism and Buddhism through the Muslim renaissance of the medieval Timurids on to the contested history of Afghan secularism and Islamism, and the scope throughout for women’s Islam. Moreover, I wanted to give due coverage to the longstanding Sufi presence in Afghanistan, as well as the fundamentalist versions of the faith that have done so much to extinguish the old ways.

Rather than attempt to write a survey single-handed, I brought together an international team of researchers with origins as diverse as Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, and the United States. This was important for all kinds of reasons, perspective and balance not least. But the most important reason was to draw on a pool of varied expertise. It’s easy to write generalizations about Islam in Afghanistan, or anywhere else for that matter. It’s quite another matter to recognize the divergent and sometimes competing forms of Islam manifested not only in different periods but in languages as dissimilar as Arabic, Persian, Pashto, Uzbek, and Urdu.

I chose open access partly because I believe that, after fifteen years of US involvement in Afghanistan, so important a topic should face as few distribution barriers as possible. But my decision was also motivated by a desire to give access to local researchers in Afghanistan (and neighboring countries like Pakistan) who are increasingly able to read English, but who cannot afford expensive books from abroad.

 


Nile Green is Professor of South Asian and Islamic History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Sufism: A Global History and Terrains of Exchange: Religious Economies of Global Islam.

Afghanistan’s Islam is published in University of California Press’s Luminos open access book program. Click here to download a free digital copy of the book.

Sign up for the Luminos eNewsletter to learn more about future Luminos publications and other Luminos news.


Banned Books Week 2017: Islamic Peace, Tolerance, and Understanding

As part of Banned Books Week we’ll be sharing recommended reading lists that promote the freedom to seek and express ideas. We take pride in publishing scholarship that focuses on the lives of diverse religious and ethnic communities and places value in their voices. Through our mission to advance knowledge and drive progressive change, we seek to promote free expression, understanding of different beliefs, and most importantly, tolerance of difference. #BannedBooksWeek #RightToRead

During Banned Books Week (ending September 30), get a 30% discount on these selected titles below.

Understanding Jihad
By David Cook 

“One of the most helpful of the spate of new books to appear since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, on the debate about jihad in Islam. Cook’s approach is based on historical and textual analyses, and is enhanced by valuable theoretical discussion. This book will help readers find their way through the vast literature by Muslims and non-Muslim scholars on what we can’t seem to get away from calling ‘holy war.'”
—Richard C. Martin, Professor of Islamic Studies, Emory University

“This book is important to current political and religious discourse on the role of Islam in today’s world and increases our understanding of the seemingly odd behaviors we observe through the media. A tremendous contribution.”
—Reuven Firestone, author of Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam

 

A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict
By Gershon Shafir 

“In this thoughtful, sober, and astute study of fifty years of Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Shafir poses the right questions, treats them with the depth of knowledge and analysis they require and deserve, and reaches conclusions that are insightful and nuanced in equal measure. Additionally, and crucially, he helps us to prepare for the future as we better understand the past. This essential book is certain to withstand the tests of time.”
—Mouin Rabbani, Senior Fellow, Institute for Palestine Studies

“An indispensable guide for anyone who wants to understand the occupation that has blighted Israeli and Palestinian lives for fifty years.”
—Peter Beinart, author of The Crisis of Zionism

 

American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear
By Khaled A. Beydoun
Forthcoming April 2018

The term “Islamophobia” may be fairly new but irrational fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims is anything but. Though many speak of Islamophobia’s roots in racism, have we considered how anti-Muslim rhetoric is rooted in our legal system?

Using his unique lens as a critical race theorist and law professor, Khaled A. Beydoun captures the many ways in which law, policy, and official state rhetoric have fueled the frightening resurgence of Islamophobia in the United States. Through the stories of Muslim Americans who have experienced Islamophobia across various racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines, Beydoun shares how U.S. laws shatter lives, whether directly or inadvertently. And with an eye toward benefiting society as a whole, he recommends ways for Muslim Americans and their allies to build coalitions with other groups. Like no book before it, American Islamophobia offers a robust and genuine portrait of Muslim America then and now.

 

Seeking Good Debate: Religion, Science, and Conflict in American Public Life
By Michael S. Evans 

“The religion and science debate has long been central in the public imagination, but, incredibly, until now scholars have not examined the debate itself. In this wonderfully well-written book, Michael Evans takes the scholarship to the next stage. This is the most sophisticated treatment of religion and science in the public sphere available. A great accomplishment!”
—John H. Evans, Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego

“Original, theoretically rich, and potentially groundbreaking, this book brings serious empirical scrutiny directly to questions of religion, science, and deliberative democracy. Carefully investigating how people want deliberation to work, then how it actually works, Michael S. Evans successfully moves the debate forward a quantum leap.”
—Andrew J. Perrin, Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

 

Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom
By Norman Finkelstein 
Forthcoming January 2018

“This is the voice I listen for, when I want to learn the deepest reality about Jews, Zionists, Israelis, and Palestinians. Norman Finkelstein is surely one of the forty honest humans the Scripture alludes to who can save ‘Sodom’ (our Earth) by pointing out, again and again, the sometimes soul-shriveling but unavoidable Truth. There is no one like him today, but in my bones I know this incredible warrior for Humanity and Justice is an archetype that has always been. And will always be. Small comfort in these dark times, perhaps, but a comfort I am deeply grateful for.”
—Alice Walker, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for The Color Purple

“Norman Finkelstein, probably the most serious scholar on the conflict in the Middle East, has written an excellent book on Israel’s invasions of Gaza. Its comprehensive examination of both the facts and the law of these assaults provides the most authoritative account of this brutal history.”
—John Dugard, Emeritus Professor of Public International Law, Leiden University, and former Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 2001-2008

 

Living with Difference: How to Build Community in a Divided World
By Adam B. Seligman, Rahel R. Wasserfall, David W. Montgomery

“Both a work of scholarship of value to the academy and a practical guide for improving intergroup relations. The material is fresh and the work innovative, with new and illuminating insights. I cannot think of a comparable work.”
—David Smock, Vice President of the U.S. Institute of Peace

“This book challenges readers to engage intellectual and human experiential resources to acquire empathy and celebrate differences as part of the knowledge of the self. An interdependent and interconnected reality can be realized when we interact with others in fully authentic ways.”
—Abdulaziz Sachedina, Professor of Islamic Studies at George Mason University

 

Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First 1,000 Years
By Chase F. Robinson 

” …an elegant digest of the many colourful, creative and technologically innovative manifestations that the Prophet Muhammad inspired from his seventh-century oases in the Arabian peninsula.”
—The Economist

“Robinson delivers a fascinating snapshot of Islamic history through 30 brief biographies. By including a mixture of the usual suspects (Muhammad, Ali, Saladin) and the unexpected (Ibn Hazm, Ibn Muqla, Abu al-Qasim), the author offers readers a rich variety of lives in pre-Islamic history.” —CHOICE


Banned Books Week 2017: Promoting Progressive Change

As part of Banned Books Week, occurring September 24 – 30, we’ll be sharing recommended reading lists that promote the freedom to seek and express ideas. At UC Press, we believe that scholarship is a powerful tool for fostering a deeper understanding of our world and changing how people think, plan, and govern. Our mission is to drive progressive change by seeking out and cultivating the brightest minds and giving them voice, reach, and impact.

During #BannedBooksWeek, get a 30% discount on these selected titles that promote progressive change in feminism, politics, Islam, and free speech. #BannedBooks

What’s your favorite UC Press book that you think should have made the list for Banned Books Week? Let us know in the comment section below.